WASHINGTON -- With economic growth slowing in recent months, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday it would keep short-term interest rates near zero and continue its latest bond-buying stimulus program.
Following a two-day meeting, Fed policymakers said recent information "suggests that growth in economic activity paused in recent months, in large part because of weather-related disruptions and other transitory factors."
Those disruptions included the Midwest drought and Superstorm Sandy.
The statement from the Federal Open Market Committee, the central bank's policymaking arm, came after the Commerce Department unexpectedly reported the economy contracted at a 0.1% annual rate in the fourth quarter of last year.
It was the first time the economy shrank since the end of the great recession in 2009.
But most economists said the slowdown was an anomaly caused in part because of concerns about the fiscal cliff. They predicted the economy would grow about 2% in the first quarter of this year.