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Fed Feeds Expectations, Maintains Economic Stimulus

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The Federal Reserve will maintain its $85 billion in monthly asset purchases, the central bank said in its policy-making statement on Wednesday.

The decision to continue purchasing $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities and $45 billion in longer-term Treasuries failed to surprise investors, as economists and analysts had anticipated no change from the central bank following a weak September jobs report and the government shutdown.

A survey by Bloomberg data showed that economists weren't expecting the Fed to begin so-called tapering, when the bank would reduce the amount of asset-backed purchases it makes each month.

The Federal Reserve, as anticipated, continued to keep the short-term federal funds rate at a range of zero to 0.25%, which has remained unchanged since late 2008.

Below is the full text of the statement:

Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in September generally suggests that economic activity has continued to expand at a moderate pace. Indicators of labor market conditions have shown some further improvement, but the unemployment rate remains elevated. Available data suggest that household spending and business fixed investment advanced, while the recovery in the housing sector slowed somewhat in recent months. Fiscal policy is restraining economic growth. Apart from fluctuations due to changes in energy prices, inflation has been running below the Committee's longer-run objective, but longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.

Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. The Committee expects that, with appropriate policy accommodation, economic growth will pick up from its recent pace and the unemployment rate will gradually decline toward levels the Committee judges consistent with its dual mandate. The Committee sees the downside risks to the outlook for the economy and the labor market as having diminished, on net, since last fall. The Committee recognizes that inflation persistently below its 2 percent objective could pose risks to economic performance, but it anticipates that inflation will move back toward its objective over the medium term.

Taking into account the extent of federal fiscal retrenchment over the past year, the Committee sees the improvement in economic activity and labor market conditions since it began its asset purchase program as consistent with growing underlying strength in the broader economy. However, the Committee decided to await more evidence that progress will be sustained before adjusting the pace of its purchases.

Accordingly, the Committee decided to continue purchasing additional agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $40 billion per month and longer-term Treasury securities at a pace of $45 billion per month. The Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities and of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction. Taken together, these actions should maintain downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, support mortgage markets, and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative, which in turn should promote a stronger economic recovery and help to ensure that inflation, over time, is at the rate most consistent with the Committee's dual mandate.