The Federal Reserve kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 0.25% Wednesday, but said US economic recovery will depend on the course of the novel coronavirus.

Stressing that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing “tremendous human and economic hardship” across the US and around the world, the Fed said economic activity and employment have picked up in recent months but remain below levels at the beginning of 2020.

“Weaker demand and significantly lower oil prices are holding down consumer price inflation. Overall financial conditions have improved in recent months, in part reflecting policy measures to support the economy and the flow of credit to US households and businesses,” the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) said in a statement.

The central bank stressed that the ongoing public health crisis will continue to weigh on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term, adding it poses considerable risks to the economic outlook over the medium term.

The FOMC reiterated it aims to achieve maximum employment and an inflation rate of above 2% moderately in the long run.

“The Committee would be prepared to adjust the stance of monetary policy as appropriate if risks emerge that could impede the attainment of the Committee’s goals,” the statement added.

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