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US economy emerges from winter freeze: Fed's Beige Book

The US economy is showing clear signs of emerging from the brutal winter, with consumer spending picking up broadly, the Federal Reserve's Beige Book survey said Wednesday. "Economic activity increased in most regions" of the country since the early March report, the Beige Book said, with "modest or moderate" expansion in most of the Fed regions surveyed. The review of economic conditions covered mid-February through early April, capturing still-severe winter weather effects that began to fade last month.

Fed chief Yellen says key task of central bank is to respond to US economy's fluctuations

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Wednesday that the U.S. job market still needs help from the Fed and that the central bank must remain intent on adjusting its policy to respond to unforeseen challenges. In her first major speech on Fed policy, Yellen sought to explain the Fed's shifting guidance on its interest-rate policy, which at times has confused or jarred investors. She said the Fed's policies "must respond to significant unexpected twist and turns the economy may make."

U.S. economic activity increased in most regions -Fed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. economic activity picked up in recent weeks as a weather-related drag lifted, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday. In its Beige Book report of anecdotal information on business activity collected from contacts nationwide, the U.S. central bank said eight of its 12 districts characterized growth as "modest to moderate." Chicago reported that growth had picked up, while New York and Philadelphia said activity had rebounded from slowdowns related to severe weather earlier in the year.

Fed should try to align projections with policy statement: Lockhart

ATLANTA (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Reserve should try to make its communications on the expected path of interest rates more consistent with its policy statements, a top official at the central bank said on Wednesday. Dennis Lockhart, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, said the Fed's most recent projections for interest rates had been out of step with its pledges on policy. "It seemed to be inconsistent with the underlying decision of the committee and the underlying guidance," Lockhart told reporters in Atlanta.

Debate unchanged over maintaining Fed's emergency lending rate

(Reuters) - The heads of nine regional Federal Reserve banks voted last month to maintain the U.S. central bank's emergency lending rate at 0.75 percent, against three who voted for a modest rise, minutes of Fed deliberations released on Tuesday showed. The 9-3 breakdown ahead of the Fed's March 18-19 policy-setting meeting was unchanged from voting ahead of a January policy meeting, suggesting comfort among most policymakers with the existing easy stance of U.S. monetary policy.

Dealers shifted rate view after Fed meeting: NY Fed poll

By Ann Saphir (Reuters) - Wall Street bond dealers began anticipating an earlier first interest-rate hike from the Federal Reserve after last month's policy meeting, according to the results of a poll by the New York Fed released on Thursday. That was exactly what Fed policymakers had feared would happen after the central bank published fresh forecasts on interest rates that appeared to map out a more aggressive cycle of rate hikes than previously expected, minutes of the meeting released Wednesday showed.

Fed officials fretted about hawkish 'dots' forecasts: minutes

By Jonathan Spicer and Ann Saphir WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Federal Reserve policymakers fretted last month that investors would overreact to published forecasts that suggested a more aggressive cycle of interest rate increases was coming down the pike than they planned. Minutes of the Fed's March 18-19 policy-setting meeting released on Wednesday shed little new light on what might prompt an eventual policy tightening.

Steady stimulus taper 'likely': Fed minutes

Federal Reserve policy makers expect to continue the steady cutback to its stimulus program, the minutes to their March 18-19 meeting showed Wednesday. The members of the Federal Open Market Committee hedged their commitment on the performance of the economy, but the minutes show that, despite recent economic weakness, they remain on track to wind up the bond-buying program late this year.

Dovish Fed minutes send dollar lower

The US dollar sank against the euro Wednesday after the minutes to the last Federal Reserve meeting showed a clear dovish tilt among policy makers. In the details of the discussions in the March 18-19 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, there was no sign of worries about inflation and little difference on the outlook for an interest rate hike, still seen only in late 2015.

Fed minutes show officials struggling with language to convey future interest-rate levels

WASHINGTON - The Federal Reserve struggled last month over how to convey to investors that it will raise short-term interest rates only slowly once it increases them from record lows. Two weeks before the Fed's regular meeting March 18-19, it held an unusual and previously unannounced videoconference to debate the issue, according to minutes of the meeting released Wednesday.
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