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Fed Notes Better Economy, Takes No Policy Action

The Federal Reserve offered a more positive view of the economy after a burst of hiring since its last meeting. It held off taking further steps to boost the recovery and reiterated its plan to keep short-term interest rates near zero until at least late 2014. The Fed's statement issued after Tuesday's one-day meeting was more upbeat than the one it released in January.

All Areas of the Country Show Growth, Fed Reports

The U.S. economy started the year off well with busier factories, higher retail sales, more jobs and growth in home sales. The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that all 12 of its banking districts reported some level of growth in January and the first half of February. Manufacturing output rose in all districts. Auto manufacturing, steel makers and other metal producers all reported solid growth.

Fed Unlikely to Raise Rates Until at Least 2014

The Federal Reserve went further than ever Wednesday to assure consumers and businesses that they'll be able to borrow cheaply well into the future. The Fed pushed back the earliest date for any likely increase in its benchmark interest rate by at least a year and a half, until at least late 2014. It said record-low rates are still needed to help boost an improving but still sluggish economy.

Fed Takes No New Action at Final Meeting of 2011

The Federal Reserve says the economy has grown moderately as hiring and consumer spending have improved. As a result, it's holding off on any new steps to boost the economy. But Fed officials, noting that unemployment remains high and global economic growth has slowed, left open the possibility of taking new steps next year if the economy worsens.