Fed Will Keep Key Rate Near Zero for ‘Extended Period’

The Federal Reserve acknowledged on Wednesday that an economic recovery was under way, but signaled that it was still much too early to start raising interest rates.

In a statement following a two-day meeting by the Fed’s policy makers, the central bank repeated that it would keep its benchmark overnight interest rate at virtually zero for “an extended period.” That almost certainly means until at least some time in 2010. Policy makers also announced that they would extend the Fed’s program to buy up almost $1.5 trillion worth of mortgage-related securities through the end of March.