Updated from 2:46 p.m. EDTThe Federal Reserve on Wednesday cut its main interest rate by a quarter-point to 1%, its lowest level in nearly a half-century, saying sustainable economic growth remains elusive despite scattered signs of firming. The fed funds rate, the Federal Open Market Committee's main monetary lever, is now at its lowest level since 1958. By cutting the rate by 25 basis points instead of 50, the Fed leaves the door open for a possible future easing. Robert Parry, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, was the only member to vote for a more aggressive 50-basis-point cut. "Recent signs point to a firming in spending, markedly improved financial conditions and labor and product markets that are stabilizing," the FOMC said in its statement. However, the panel said the economy "has yet to exhibit sustainable growth." The latest move was the Fed's 13th rate cut in two-and-a-half years. "With inflationary expectations subdued, the committee judged that a slightly more expansive monetary policy would add further support for an economy which it expects to improve over time," the FOMC said. Recent economic data have been mixed. The housing market, generally a beneficiary of monetary easing, continues to hum, with sales of new homes up 12.5% in May to a record 1.157 million annual rate. Existing-home sales rose 1.2% in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.92 million units. Earlier Wednesday, however, the Commerce Department said durable goods orders fell 0.3% in May. Separately, the latest Philadelphia Fed manufacturing survey showed contraction in new orders, shipments, and employment. "The committee perceives that the upside and downside risks to the attainment of sustainable growth for the next few quarters are roughly equal," the Fed said in its release. "In contrast, the probability, though minor, of an unwelcome substantial fall in inflation exceeds that of a pickup in inflation from its already low level. On balance, the committee believes that the latter concern is likely to predominate for the foreseeable future." Since May, the Fed has indicated a resolve to fight deflation. "It looks like this will be a staple of Fed statements going forward, until the risks dissipate," said Tony Crescenzi, chief bond market strategist at Miller Tabak and a contributor to RealMoney.com. "I think many will be comforted by the fact that the Fed has its eye on deflation."