Federal Reserve to keep long-term interest rates low, will keep buying $85 billion a month in bonds

Fed could be moving closer to reducing stimulus

 WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Federal Reserve says it will maintain the pace of its program to keep long-term interest rates at record lows, but offered a slightly more optimistic outlook for the U.S. economy and job market.

The brighter outlook could be a hint that the Fed is moving closer to reducing its stimulus. But the statement gave no indication of when that might happen.

In a statement after its meeting, the Fed says economy is growing moderately. And for the first time said the "downside risks to the outlook" had diminished since fall.

The Fed says it will keep buying $85 billion a month in bonds until the outlook for the job market improves substantially.  It's maintaining its plan to keep short-term rates at record lows at least until unemployment reaches 6.5 percent.

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