Fed likely to back low-rate policies despite gains


Economists say the Federal Reserve isn't taking its foot off the accelerator even as the U.S. economy is strengthening on the fuel of more job growth, rising home prices and solid retail sales.

Fed policymakers begin a two-day meeting starting Tuesday and it's expected that record low interest rates will continue.

On Wednesday, the Fed will issue a policy statement and update its economic forecasts and Chairman Ben Bernanke will hold a news conference.

The unemployment rate, at 7.7 percent, remains well above the 5 percent to 6 percent range associated with a healthy economy. The Fed has said it plans to keep short-term rates at record lows at least until unemployment falls to 6.5 percent, as long as the inflation outlook remains mild. And it foresees unemployment staying above 6.5 percent until at least the end of 2015.

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