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US Central Bank Weighing Actions to Boost Weak Economy

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Financial Services Committee to deliver the annual Financial Stability Oversight Council report, Washington, July 25, 2012.
U.S. central bank officials are meeting in Washington, to consider whether new measures are needed to boost economic growth and cut the stubbornly high jobless rate.

Federal Reserve policy makers are discussing options Tuesday and Wednesday before announcing any actions to try to spur the U.S. economy, the world's largest. The American economy only advanced 1.5 percent in the April-to-June period, while the unemployment rate has been stuck for 41 straight months above eight percent, an unusually high level.

U.S. economists are divided on whether the central bank will act now or wait until September, after collecting more information on the country's economic trends. The government is to release unemployment and job-growth numbers for July on Friday.

Central bank efforts have not significantly boosted the economy from the depths of the country's 2009 recession, its worst in seven decades. The Federal Reserve has twice bought U.S. bonds and mortgage-back securities in an effort cut long-term interest rates, which some analysts say it could do again.

In part, the U.S. economy has been hurt by the stagnant economy in Europe's 17-nation euro currency union, one of its main trading partners. European Central Bank policy makers are meeting Thursday to consider whether to make direct purchases of Spanish and Italian bonds to help cut the borrowing costs for the debt-ridden Madrid and Rome governments.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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