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The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee (FOMC) has left the outlook for additional quantitative easing ambiguous. The summary from the most recent meeting of Fed policy makers expresses confidence that inflation will remain contained and concern over sluggish economic growth, unemployment and the threat of “global financial strains.” The FOMC promises, in response, to keep short-term interest rates low, with the target federal funds rate between 0 and 25 basis points into late 2014. It also promises to continue through year-end “Operation Twist,” in which it buys longer-term Treasury bonds, to sell nothing from its now-extensive portfolio of mortgage-backed securities and even to reinvest any interest and principal payments it receives. But on the crucial issue, the one that weighs on Wall Street’s collective mind, of a third quantitative easing—QE3 in the Street’s jargon—the Fed remains coy and promises only to respond to the flow of economic and financial information as needed.

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