Fed forecast: More growth, lower unemployment
Economic growth: In an updated forecast Wednesday, the Fed predicted that the economy will grow between 2.4 percent and 2.9 percent in 2012. That compares with its forecast in January, when it estimated growth this year between 2.2 percent and 2.7 percent.
Unemployment: The Fed is estimating that unemployment, now at a three-year low of 8.2 percent, will be between 7.8 percent and 8 percent at year's end. That compares with its forecast in January, when it estimated an unemployment rate as high as 8.5 percent at the end of 2012.
Inflation to rise: The Fed slightly increased its estimate for inflation by year's end to between 1.9 percent and 2 percent. In January, it predicted inflation between 1.4 percent to 1.8 percent. Still, the higher inflation forecast is still lower than the Fed's official 2 percent target for inflation. And in its statement, the Fed said it expected higher oil and gasoline prices this year to result in only a temporary boost in inflation.
Interest rates: In the new forecast, 11 Fed officials expect the first interest rate hike will not occur until 2014 or later, the same number who said so in January. But no official is looking for the first rate hike to occur as late as 2016; in January, two Fed officials had put the first rate hike that far out. Three Fed officials expect a rate hike this year and another three expect it next year.