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The Federal Open Market Committee revised up its forecast for gross domestic product growth slightly as economic conditions remained mostly in line with staff expectations.
The minutes for the Fed committee’s latest meeting provided more insight on the U.S. economy, including any indications of additional quantitative easing. But only “a couple members indicated that the initiation of additional stimulus” could be needed if the economy loses momentum, according to the notes from the March 13 meeting.
The committee still expects gradual GDP growth in 2012 and 2013, despite conditions in labor and production markets improving more than members expected. Several said they expect unemployment levels to remain elevated.
Inflation will likely run at or below 2%, according to the committee, with energy prices expected to stabilize in the second half of 2012.
A spike in Treasury yields after the release suggests few people still expect a so-called “QE3,” according to Capital Economics' Paul Ashworth.
“The recent improvement in the incoming economic data doesn’t appear to have had much of an impact on Fed officials,” Ashworth said in a statement.
Members saw a “number of factors” that could restrain growth, including foreign economies, a weak housing market and deleveraging among households. The housing market “improved somewhat in recent months,” the committee said, but is still weighed down by foreclosed and distressed properties, tight credit and uncertainty about the economy and home prices.
Warm weather likely boosted new home sales in December and January, and residential mortgage markets remained depressed, the FOMC said, despite low interest rates.
The FOMC held the federal funds rate steady after its March 13 meeting, with Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, the lone dissenter.
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