Washington (IANS) - The US Federal Reserve left its benchmark interest rates unchanged as the central bank waited on more data to assess the US economic outlook. "The Committee views the slowing in growth during the first quarter as likely to be transitory and continues to expect that, with gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace," Xinhua news agency cited a the Fed statement.
The US economy grew at an annual rate of 0.7% in the first quarter of this year, lower than the 2.1% growth in the previous quarter and the weakest performance in three years, the Commerce Department said last week. Consumer spending, which accounts for about 70% of the US economy, increased only 0.3% in the first quarter, the smallest increase since the fourth quarter of 2009, according to the department.
But Fed played down the significance of weak consumer spending, saying "the fundamentals underpinning the continued growth of consumption remain solid". The Fed also said the inflation measured on a 12-month basis "has been running close to" the central bank's target of 2%, as the unemployment rate has fallen to a level Fed officials see as consistent with full employment. "Near-term risks to the economic outlook appear roughly balanced. The Committee continues to closely monitor inflation indicators and global economic and financial developments," the central bank said in the statement.