The Federal Reserve will continue to extend the average maturity of its securities holdings through end of the year, but it elected not to provide further stimulus to the economy.
“Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in April suggests that the economy has been expanding moderately this year. However, growth in employment has slowed in recent months, and the unemployment rate remains elevated. Business fixed investment has continued to advance. Household spending appears to be rising at a somewhat slower pace than earlier in the year,” the Federal Open Market Committee said in a statement.
The Fed will purchase Treasury securities with remaining maturities of six years to 30 years at the current pace and will sell an equal amount of Treasurys with maturities of three years or less. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said in a separate statement that about $267 billion in Treasury securities would be bought and sold by the end of 2012 under the program.
This program known as Operation Twist was expected to expire in July and was extended by six months. Some in the market anticipated another round of quantitative easing to help boost a slowing economy, especially in light of continued uncertainty in Europe.
But the Fed continues to focus on merely keeping interest rates low. The federal funds rate will continue to remain between 0% and 0.25% through the end of 2014. The Fed will also continue reinvesting principal payments on its mortgage bond holdings to buy more agency mortgage-backed securities.
“Despite some signs of improvement, the housing sector remains depressed,” FOMC said.
Yields on the 10-year Treasury fell after the announcement.
Jeffrey Lacker was the only committee member who opposed continuing the maturity program.
“The committee is prepared to take further action as appropriate to promote a stronger economic recovery and sustained improvement in labor market conditions in a context of price stability,” according to the statement.
“While there was no QE3 today, the statement again warned that ‘strains in global financial markets continue to pose significant downside risks to the economic outlook,'” said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist for Capital Economics. “If those risks increase then we suspect the Fed would be pretty quick off the mark in taking further action.”