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US Central Bank Holds Key Interest Rates Steady - 2004-03-16

The U.S. Central Bank is keeping the key U.S. interest rate steady at a 45-year low of one percent.

Federal Reserve officials announced the decision Tuesday after a meeting of bank officials in Washington.

The central bankers say they can put off interest rate hikes for a while because inflation is "quite low" and new hiring has "lagged." Raising interest rates is the main tool that officials can use to fight inflation.

Experts say low interest rates have helped pull the U.S. economy out of a slump, but are also blamed for the declining value of the dollar.

Investors apparently liked the news on interest rates, and stock market indexes rose immediately after the announcement.