The Fed's updated economic forecasts will be examined to see whether officials stick to their January assessments or have grown more upbeat about growth and hiring. A brighter Fed forecast would be seen as a sign that officials will be less likely to take further steps to support the economy for fear of causing high inflation.
One Fed bond-buying program is still underway: a $400 billion program dubbed Operation Twist. Under this program, the Fed sells shorter-term securities and buys longer-term bonds, to try to push down long-term rates. That program is scheduled to end in June. Many economists think the Fed will let it end on schedule.
If the Fed signals Wednesday that Operation Twist will end, it might disappoint investors, who could react by sending stock prices lower and bond yields higher.
"I think markets have broadly discounted expectations that we will get any more Fed easing in the form of further bond purchases," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. "But there are some investors who still have hope for further Fed actions, so an announcement of an end to Operation Twist will have a dampening effect on markets."
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