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WASHINGTON-For about three quarters now, the Federal Open Market Committee has kept its federal funds target rate at 1%. The Federal Reserve’s monetary policy group announced March 16 that it would continue its “accommodative stance of monetary policy, coupled with robust underlying growth in productivity, is providing important ongoing support to economic activity.” According to an FOMC statement, the period between meetings has demonstrated continued solid expansion of output. However, new hiring is still lagging, but job losses have slowed. Inflation remains low, the FOMC pointed out, and it should continue to remain low. “The Committee perceives the upside and downside risks to the attainment of sustainable growth for the next few quarters are roughly equal,” the FOMC said in a statement. “The probability of an unwelcome fall in inflation has diminished in recent months and now appears almost equal to that of a rise in inflation. With inflation quite low and resource use slack, the Committee believes that it can be patient in removing its policy accommodation.” At least one credit union economist has said the rate will likely remain at 1% through August 2004. [email protected]

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