WASHINGTON - The Federal Reserve says the economy is growing moderately while cautioning that risks from Europe remain. It's holding off on taking any further steps to boost the recovery.
In a statement after a two-day meeting, the Fed said Wednesday that the job market has improved slightly but that unemployment remains elevated. It said the housing market has improved somewhat but remains depressed. It also pointed to a pickup in inflation but said it should be only temporary.
The Fed stuck with its plan to keep a key short-term interest rate near zero through at least late 2014. It announced no new plans for further bond buying after a current program ends in June.
Its decision to leave policy unchanged had been widely expected and had little impact on financial markets.
The Fed's stay-the-course decision was approved on a 9-1 vote of the central bank's key policy panel, the Federal Open Market Committee, composed of Fed board members in Washington and five regional bank presidents.
As he has at the past two meetings, Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Richmond Fed, opposed the late-2014 target date. The statement said Lacker didn't think economic conditions will warrant a record low rate late that long.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will meet with reporters later Wednesday, marking a year since he began holding quarterly news conferences as a way of providing more openness about the Fed's decision-making process.