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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Federal Reserve says the economy is improving only moderately and still needs its support to help lower unemployment.
The Fed took no new action after a two-day policy meeting. It wants time to assess whether aggressive steps launched in September will boost growth and job creation.
The central bank says consumer spending was a little stronger, but business investment slowed. It also said inflation picked up slightly because of higher energy prices.
The Fed last month began buying mortgage bonds to try to push long-term interest rates lower and make home buying more affordable. It also said it plans to keep its benchmark short-term rate near zero through mid-2015.
The unemployment rate fell in September to 7.8 percent, the first time it's been below 8 percent since January 2009.