The Federal Reserve Board on Wednesday neared the halfway mark of unwinding its unprecedented bond buying program, reducing its purchases to $45 billion.
With the labor market and economy showing signs of improvement, policymakers agreed to continue to reduce the pace of the Fed's monthly purchases of mortgage and Treasury bonds by an additional $10 billion following a two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting.
"In light of the cumulative progress toward maximum employment and the improvement in the outlook for labor market conditions since the inception of the current asset purchase program, the committee decided to make a further measured reduction in the pace of its asset purchases," the FOMC said in its policy statement.
It is the fourth time that policymakers agreed to reduce the bond buying program while keeping rates steady. FOMC participants cited further improvement in the labor market, but still noted that the housing sector remained slow even while families appeared to be spending more.
Starting in May, the Fed will now begin buying $20 billion and $25 billion of mortgage-backed securities and longer-term Treasury securities, respectively.
Policymakers also reiterated that a wide range of factors would contribute to its decision to lift the federal funds rate, including labor market conditions, inflation expectations and other financial developments. But until then, they viewed it as "appropriate" to continue to maintain near zero interest rates for a "considerable time" after the asset purchase program winds down