In her press conference afterward, Fed Chairman Janet Yellen left open how soon the Fed would might actually start raising rates. Still, many investors were relieved that the central bank was essentially on hold for some time.
Here are some of the highlights from her Q&A with reporters.
1. Investors Don't Need to Worry About Rate Hikes
Yellen wouldn't define what she meant by a "considerable time," but the consensus is that the central bank isn't likely to consider raising rates until mid-2015. That means stocks are likely to remain the place to invest in this low-yield environment.
2. Economy Is Still Struggling from the Financial Crisis
Yellen said the outlook for economic growth hasn't changed much since June. So investors can expect more of the slow, unspectacular growth that they've seen in recent years.
Many FOMC members "cite the residual effects of the financial crisis which although slowly diminishing, are likely to continue to restrain household spending, constrain credit availability and depress expectations for future growth in output and incomes," Yellen said.
3. Labor Market/Wages Remain Soft
Along with the economy, jobs and wages continue to recover slowly. Yellen didn't see much change in that either.
"There are still too many people who want jobs but cannot find them, too many who are working part time but would prefer full time work and too many who are not searching for a job but would be if the labor market was stronger," Yellen said.
4. Inflation Isn't Really a Problem
Yellen said inflation had firmed a bit and wasn't likely to remain below the Fed's target of 2%. Still, there wasn't much danger of significant price rises ahead.
"With longer term inflation expectations appearing to be well-anchored and the economic recovery continuing, the Committee expects inflation to move gradually back to its objective," she said.
5. Fed Won't Sell Assets Anytime Soon
Although the Fed will soon stop buying new securities, it will maintain its $4.4 trillion balance sheet until it starts raising interest rates. So proceeds of maturing bonds will simply be reinvested.
Assuming "ongoing improvement in the labor market and inflation moving back over time toward its 2% longer-run objective," the bond purchase program will end at the next FOMC meeting, Yellen said.
-- Reported by Dan Freed in Washington, D.C.