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Fed Set to Roll Out New Low-Rate Pledge

In this Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, file photo, Janet Yellen, followed by her husband, Nobel Prize winning economist George Akerlof, smiles as she walks into a room of applause by staff members before she is administered the oath of office as Federal Reserve Board chair, at the Federal Reserve in Washington. Yellen is the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
In this Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, file photo, Janet Yellen, followed by her husband, Nobel Prize winning economist George Akerlof, smiles as she walks into a room of applause by staff members before she is administered the oath of office as Federal Reserve Board chair, at the Federal Reserve in Washington. Yellen is the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The Federal Reserve has said again and again that it wants to keep interest rates low for a long time. But it keeps fiddling with how to express that commitment.

Another shift in that communications strategy is set to occur when the central bank’s interest-rate-setting committee gathers for two days of talks on Tuesday and Wednesday, as it’s the first meeting to be led by Janet Yellen, the new chairwoman. The Fed will release a policy statement and updated economic forecasts at 2 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, and Yellen will hold a press conference at the end of the deliberations at 2:30 p.m.

With the Fed and the markets basically on the same page on the economy, the current near-zero interest-rate policy, and the rate of reduction in bond purchases, the central bank has an opportunity to revamp its forward guidance tool, now the chief policy instrument.

“They’ve got a little room to unanchor these things,” said Lewis Alexander, chief economist at Nomura Holdings Inc. in New York.

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