The Federal Reserve said the economy has slowed and foreshadowed new steps to boost the weakening expansion.
â€œEconomic activity decelerated somewhat over the first half of this year,â€ the Federal Open Market Committee said today at the conclusion of a two-day meeting in Washington. â€œThe committee will closely monitor incoming information on economic and financial developments and will provide additional accommodation as needed to promote a stronger economic recovery and sustained improvement in labor market conditions in a context of price stability.â€
Chairman Ben S. Bernanke held off on stepping up record stimulus even as consumer spending flagged, economic growth slowed and unemployment persisted at 8.2 percent. Before their next meeting starts Sept. 12, Bernanke and his colleagues will assess reports on unemployment in July and August, and the European Central Bank may take steps to ease Europeâ€™s debt crisis at a meeting tomorrow.
The FOMC said in todayâ€™s statement that â€œhousehold spending has been rising at a somewhat slower pace than earlier in the year.â€
The Fed said it will continue swapping $667 billion of short-term debt with longer-term securities to lengthen the average maturity of its holdings, an action dubbed Operation Twist. The central bank will also continue reinvesting its portfolio of maturing housing debt into agency mortgage-backed securities.
The Fed left unchanged its statement that economic conditions would likely warrant holding the benchmark Fed funds rate near zero â€œat least through late 2014.â€