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Fed holds rates at 45-year low

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Federal Reserve policy makers, worried about companies' inability to create new jobs, held interest rates at a 45-year low on Tuesday and signaled anew that they will be slow to order any future increase that could cramp the economy's recovery.

Private economists viewed the Fed policy statement as more somber than its comments after a similar meeting in late January, reflecting the fact that the central bank has seen two disappointing monthly employment reports since then.

Some economists said it was very likely that the Fed would not raise its target for the federal funds rate, the interest that banks charge each other, from 1 percent until sometime in 2005. That represented a change from the previous view that the Fed simply would wait until after the November election before starting to raise rates.

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