WASHINGTON — With the economy expanding moderately, the Federal Open Market Committee kept the federal funds rate target at zero to 0.25%, saying it anticipates economic conditions to warrant exceptionally low levels for the rate at least through late 2014.

Noting some improvement in overall labor market conditions, FOMC members reiterated concern that the unemployment rate remains elevated.

The panel expects the jobless rate to decline only gradually toward levels that the committee deems to be consistent with its dual mandate. However, the committee noted that strains in global financial markets continue to pose significant downside risks to the economic outlook.

The only dissenter was Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond president Jeffrey Lacker, who preferred to omit the description of the time period over which economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate.

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