Expectations low for any major Fed moves this week
WASHINGTON (AP) — Six weeks after rolling out a bold plan to boost the U.S. economy, the central bank is meeting again amid low expectations for further help.
Private economists believe the Fed will send a simple message after its two-day meeting that it wants to give its previous actions time to work before doing more.
"They have done enough right now. There is no reason to do any more at the moment," said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial. She said she expects the Fed to deliver further help to the economy but not until the last meeting of the year on Dec. 11-12.
The Fed's meeting will conclude with a brief announcement at mid-afternoon Wednesday. But there will be no news conference by Federal Chairman Ben Bernanke.
The Fed announcement is expected to affirm officials' plan to keep buying $40 billion per month in mortgage bonds as long as necessary to make home buying more affordable. The Fed is also expected to reaffirm its intention to keep short-term interest rates at record lows through mid-2015 and hold out the prospect of further action if hiring doesn't pick up.
Those policies are intended to support an economy that's shown flashes of strength but isn't growing fast enough to create many jobs or to increase Americans' income. The economy grew at a meager 1.3 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter.
Economists think it grew slightly faster in the July-September quarter, a figure that will not be announced by the government until Friday.
Still, many employers remain wary of hiring, in part because of tax increases and spending cuts set to kick in next year and in part because of a slowing global economy.
The bond purchases the Fed launched last month are designed to lower interest rates and cause stock and home prices to rise, creating a "wealth effect." When consumers feel wealthier, they're typically more willing to spend, thereby boosting the economy.
Fed officials made clear in September that they would likely hold rates low even after the economic recovery has strengthened. That was a signal that it will keep intervening until the economy grows fast enough to reduce unemployment sharply.
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