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Fed funds rate unchanged; FOMC sees improvement despite slowing growth

The FederalOpen Market Committee is leaving its key federal funds rate unchanged at between0.25% and 0.50%.

FederalReserve policymakers announced they are leaving the rate untouched after concludingtheir April meeting. The committee noted in its statement that labor market conditionscontinued to improve since their last meeting "even as growth in economic activityappears to have slowed."

The committeedid not make any major changes to its outlook for the broader economy. The statementsaid that policymakers still "expect that, with gradual adjustments in thestance of monetary policy, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace andlabor market indicators will continue to strengthen."

Fed officialsnoted that inflation continued to fall short of its longer-run 2% target, and thatthey expect inflation will remain low in the short-run as the impacts of energyprice declines dissipate. Over the medium term, the committee said that it expectsinflation will rise toward its longer-run goal.

The committeealso cited further improvement in the housing sector and rising household real incomein its statement, though it also noted that household spending has moderated andbusiness fixed investment and net exports were "soft."

The lonevote against the policy statement was Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City PresidentEsther George, who wished to lift rates at the meeting.