(Bloomberg News) Federal Reserve policy makers said they expect growth to gradually accelerate, while refraining from new actions to lower borrowing costs.
"The committee expects economic growth to remain moderate over coming quarters and then to pick up gradually," the Federal Open Market Committee said in a statement at the conclusion of a two-day meeting today in Washington. "Despite some signs of improvement, the housing sector remains depressed," the panel said.
Policy makers led by Chairman Ben S. Bernanke are holding off on additional steps to boost the economy amid signs the more than two-year expansion is gaining strength. Still, the jobless rate isn't declining fast enough to satisfy central bankers, who repeated their view today that borrowing costs are likely to remain "exceptionally low" at least through late 2014.
Today's statement said that "strains in global finanancial markets continue to pose significant downside risks to the economic outlook." The Fed has cited the risk from "strains in global financial markets" in its previous five meetings. In March it said those strains had "eased."
The Fed will release policy makers' forecasts for growth, inflation, unemployment and interest rates at 2 p.m. today. Chairman Bernanke will hold a press conference at 2:15 p.m. to explain the forecasts and the Fed's statement.
The central bank said it would continue its swap of $400 billion of short-term debt with long-term debt to lengthen the average maturity of its holdings, a move dubbed Operation Twist. The Fed is scheduled to complete the program at the end of June. The Fed also didn't alter its policy of reinvesting its portfolio of maturing housing debt into agency mortgage-backed securities.
Inflation "has picked up somewhat, mainly reflecting higher prices of crude oil and gasoline," the Fed said today. Gas prices will affect inflation "only temporarily," it said.
Oil prices have declined since the Fed's March meeting, and the national average cost of gasoline has fallen to $3.84 a gallon from a 2012 peak of $3.94 on April 4, according to the American Automobile Association.
Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker dissented for the third meeting in a row. Lacker has said he believes the first increase in interest rates will likely be necessary in 2013.