Fed stays course, shrinks bond purchases by $10B

The Federal Reserve stuck with its slow exit from its stimulus project, trimming yet again the size of its monthly bond purchases to $35 billion.

The $10 billion trim to its quantitative easing came as the Fed said the economy had “picked up recently” after a harsh winter. However, the Fed noted in its policy statement that unemployment was still elevated and the housing market slow, and household spending and business investment were on the upswing.

The Fed added that it was keeping interest rates near zero as expected, and plans to do so “for a considerable time” after it wraps up its monthly purchases.

Economic projections released by the Fed alongside its policy statement show 12 of 16 Fed officials believe the first rate hike will come sometime in 2015, with one expecting it to happen this year and three others holding off until 2016.

The Fed has consistently trimmed the size of its easing ever since it announced its eventual exit at the end of 2013. All Fed officials backed the latest statement, including Stanley Fischer and Lael Brainard, who were just sworn in to join the central bank on Monday.

Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen will discuss the Fed's latest policy shift in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.