Central Bank Says US Economy Expanding ‘Moderately’

Posted April 25th, 2012 at 1:40 pm (UTC-5)
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The U.S. central bank says the American economy is growing “moderately” and is refraining from adopting new stimulus measures.

After a two-day meeting of its chief policy makers in Washington, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday it expects that economic growth will “remain moderate” over the coming months and “then to pick up gradually.”

The central bank said it is keeping its benchmark lending rate at the historically low level of zero to a quarter of a percentage point, and expects to maintain the same interest rate at least through late 2014.

The bank's statement said the country's labor market has improved. But it noted that the jobless rate — 8.2 percent in March — remains high. It said consumer spending and business investment have grown, but described the country's housing market as “depressed.”

The central bank said that overall inflation expectations “have remained stable,” and that increased energy costs will only have a temporary effect.

Meantime, U.S.-based technology giant Apple said its quarterly profits almost doubled the first three months of the year. This was attributed largely to continued demand for the company's popular iPhones.

The state of the U.S. economy is the prime issue in the presidential election campaign, heading to the November contest.

The presumptive Republican nominee, one-time venture capitalist Mitt Romney, has called for less government regulation and lower taxes to sharply boost the economy. He says that President Barack Obama, a Democrat, deserves no credit for recent gains in the economy and that any advances have occurred despite — not because of — his policies.

Mr. Obama has frequently told supporters that the economy is improving, although not as fast as he would like. He has noted that the country's businesses have filled more than 600,000 new jobs since the first of the year. He says the country cannot afford to weaken government controls designed to curb corporate excesses that contributed to the economic downturn, the worst in the U.S. in seven decades.