WASHINGTON — The Federal Open Market Committee yesterday held its key policy rate, the federal funds target rate, unchanged at zero to 0.25%, and reiterated that economic conditions warrant “exceptionally low” interest rates “for an extended period,” even though “economic activity has continued to strengthen and that the labor market is beginning to ­improve.”

For the third straight meeting, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City president Thomas Hoenig was the lone dissenter. He believes the continuation of the language “exceptionally low” interest rates “for an extended period” limits the committee’s “flexibility to begin raising rates modestly.”

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