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Fed Decision Signals Optimism for Economy

The Fed decided Wednesday to keep short-term interest rates at a record low to help stabilize the economy. Jeffrey Brown speaks with a Washington Post reporter about the economic outlook.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    The Federal Reserve signaled confidence today in the economy's ability to come back.

    As expected, the central bank held a benchmark interest rate near zero, a record low. And in a statement, policymakers said, "Economic activity is leveling out." They also said financial markets "have improved further" since their last meeting in June.

    In response, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 120 points to close at 9,361 today. The Nasdaq rose nearly 29 points to close at 1,998.

    Jeffrey Brown has more on our lead story.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    And for that, I'm joined by Washington Post business reporter Neil Irwin.

    Well, Neil, that line Jim just quoted, "Economic activity is leveling out," that's Fed-speak for things are looking better, I guess. What are they seeing?

  • NEIL IRWIN, Washington Post:

    Well, they're seeing the same things that private economists are seeing and ordinary Americans are seeing, which is, even though the economy is still in bad shape, we're not seeing growth just yet probably, things are a lot better than they were six months ago.

    And we seem to be in a bottoming process where the economy isn't shrinking at the same pace it was. It probably isn't shrinking at all anymore. And, you know, that doesn't mean that we're going to get a roaring recovery in the months ahead, but it is better than where we were. And they're acknowledging that and explaining some of the reasons that seems to be happening.

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