Fed Holds Ground Again

The central bank keeps its target rate at 5.25% and says it will remain on guard against inflation.
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Updated from 2:17 p.m. EDT

Federal Reserve

policymakers, as expected, kept the fed funds target rate at 5.25% after concluding a two-day meeting Thursday.

The decision by the Federal Open Market Committee was unanimous, and the statement that accompanied it again illustrated the difficult task facing the central bank as it tries to help the economy continue to grow but not at so quick a pace that inflation becomes a concern.

For months, data have been mixed, and for every report that suggests prices could be rising too fast, another indicates a slowdown may be on the horizon.

To the Fed, economic growth "appears to have been moderate during the first half of this year, despite the ongoing adjustment in the housing sector. The economy seems likely to continue to expand at a moderate pace over coming quarters."

Readings on core inflation, the Fed said, have "improved modestly in recent months. However, a sustained moderation in inflation pressures has yet to be convincingly demonstrated."

The high level of resource utilization could sustain that pressure, the central bank said.

"In these circumstances, the

FOMC's predominant policy concern remains the risk that inflation will fail to moderate as expected," it said. "Future policy adjustments will depend on the evolution of the outlook for both inflation and economic growth, as implied by incoming information."