Tuesday, the Federal Open Market Committee voted to leave the Fed Funds Rate unchanged within its current target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.
For the fourth consecutive month, the Fed Funds Rate vote was nearly unanimous. Just one FOMC member dissented in the 9-1 vote.
The Fed Funds Rate has been near zero percent since December 2008. It is expected to remain near-zero through 2014, at least.
In its press release, the Federal Reserve noted that the the U.S. economy has “expanded moderately” since the FOMC’s January 2012 meeting, adding that growth is occurring despite “strains in the global financial markets” that pose “significant downside risks” to long-term outlooks.
The Federal Reserve now expects moderate economic expansion through the next few quarters and a gradual easing in the national Unemployment Rate.
The Fed also noted that :
- The housing sector remains “depressed”
- Labor conditions have “improved further”
- Household spending has “continued to advance”
With respect to inflation, the Fed said that rising oil and gasoline prices will “push up” inflation temporarily, but not over the long-term.
At its meeting, the Federal Reserve neither introduced new economic stimulus, nor discontinued existing market programs. The Fed re-affirmed its intentions to hold the Fed Funds Rate at “exceptionally low” levels through late-2014, and to buy mortgage-backed bonds in the open market.
Immediately following the FOMC’s statement, mortgage markets worsened slightly, pressuring mortgage rates higher in and around Walnut Creek.
The FOMC’s next scheduled meeting is a two-day event slated for April 24-25, 2012.