The lone dissenter in the Fed's vote last month to continue its current policies was Esther George, president of the Fed's Kansas City regional bank.

The minutes noted that officials thought the economy was showing signs of modest improvement at the start of 2013. Policymakers observed that the job market had been improving gradually and that super-low interest rates had helped boost sales of autos and other consumer products.

But Fed officials also cautioned that threats remained. They pointed to possible economic disruptions from budget debates in Washington, including the scheduled start of across-the-board spending cuts on March 1 â¿¿ cuts that could slow the economy's growth.

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