The Federal Open Market Committee voted to leave the Fed Funds Rate within its target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.
It also reiterated plans to support the mortgage market to the tune of $1.5 trillion.
In its press release, the FOMC noted that the U.S. economy is “picking up following its severe downturn” and that financial markets have “improved further”.
It’s the second consecutive post-FOMC statement in which the Fed appears somewhat optimistic — a signal that the recession will end soon, or has already ended.
That said, the economy still has some soft spots and the Fed made a point to single them out. Each poses a distinct threat to economic recovery.
- Ongoing job losses
- Sluggish income growth
- Tight credit conditions
Also in its statement, the Fed confirmed its plan to hold the Fed Funds Rate near zero percent “for an extended period” and to honor its $1.25 trillion commitment to the mortgage bond market.
However, the FOMC changed its timeframe on the mortgage-backed bond buys, extending its deadline to March 2010. This move should help the Fed keep mortgage rates from rising too high as the economic expansion takes hold.
Market reaction to the Fed’s press release is positive. After an early day sell-off that drove rates higher by about a quarter-percent, most of the pressure is easing. Pricing is worse on the day overall, but well off its lows.
The FOMC’s next scheduled meeting is November 3-4, 2009.