U.S. Central Bank Holds Rates Near Zero

Nothing much changed in Washington Wednesday, with word the U.S.' central bank has decided to stand pat.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday held its benchmark interest rate near zero and said the economy continues to progress despite concerns over the pandemic spread.

As expected, the Federal Open Market Committee concluded its two-day meeting by keeping interest rates in a target range between zero and 0.25%.

Along with that, the FOMC said in a unanimously approved statement that the economy continues to "strengthen."

Despite the optimism about the economy, Chairman Jerome Powell said the Fed is nowhere near considering a rate hike.

"Our approach here has been to be as transparent as we can." said Powell "We have not reached substantial further progress yet," he said. "We see ourselves having some ground to cover to get there."

Equity and bond markets had been watching for the Fed’s views on the spread in the COVID-19 delta variant, but Powell and his fellow officials were relatively sanguine at least in terms of the threat the virus poses to the economy.

Stocks shaved some losses during Powell’s remarks, with the Dow negative but the S&P 500 and NASDAQ in the green.