The Federal Reserve, saying economic growth had "paused" in recent months, announced Wednesday it will continue its $85 billion monthly bond buying and hold interest rates near zero until unemployment falls to at least 6.5 percent.
The central bank decision, which followed a two-day meeting, had been widely expected, especially after a surprising decline in U.S. economic growth for the fourth quarter.
Earlier Wednesday, the government announced that GDP unexpectedly suffered its first decline since the 2007-09 recession, falling at a 0.1 percent annual rate after growing at a 3.1 percent clip in the third quarter. (Read More: GDP Shows Surprise Drop)
Markets showed relatively little reaction to the GDP report, in part because it reinforced expectations that the Fed will continue to provide stimulus as long as the economy is weak. Stocks were slightly lower after the Fed decision. (Read More: Stocks Listless After Fed Decision)