Bernanke: Fed expects "relatively weak" first quarter growth due to "transitory" reasons 

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke, speaking at the board's first ever news conference, said on Wednesday that the nation's first quarter growth is expected to be "realitively weak" due to "transitory" reasons such as lower than expected military spending, weaker exports and bad weather.

However, he said he expected those issues won't be a factor in coming quarters and the economy would begin to gather steam in the following quarters.

While the Fed expects less than 2 percent GDP growth in the first quarter, its new projections see growth of 3.1 percent to 3.3 percent at the end of the year. Also, by this year's fourth quarter, the Fed sees unemployment of 8.4 percet to 8.7 percent, a rate that it expects to drop to 7.6 percent to 7.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, when Obama is up for reelection.

Policywise, the Fed announced it would maintain its current historically low interest rate target of 0 percent to .25 percent, because it doesn't see a long-term threat from inflation despite current increased gas prices. It said it would also continue its round of bond purchases.

Here's the table (PDF) of the Fed's economic projections and here's it's announcement.

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