The Federal Reserve, as expected, left interest rates near zero and restated its vow to keep them low for "an extended period."
Fed officials are also debated their exit strategy from an unprecedented dose of monetary stimulus employed to counter the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Weak holiday-period retail sales and further setbacks in the battered U.S. housing market have dampened talk of any immediate rush for the doors. Instead, policy-makers continued to debate the merit of various tools that might be used to drain credit from the banking system.
The Fed gathered amid a firestorm in Washington over Ben Bernanke's nomination to a second term as chairman of the U.S. central bank.
Once expected to sail through the Senate, his confirmation vote ran into stiff resistance last week, sending Wall Street, which strongly backs the chairman, sharply lower on Friday.
Financial markets, which took a drubbing last week, have stabilized as Bernanke's confirmation began looking more certain.
The latest Reuters tally showed 48 out of 100 senators were likely to vote for Bernanke, while 19 vowed to vote against him. The rest remain undecided.
The Senate will take up the nomination on Thursday with a vote to overcoming procedural roadblocks. A final confirming vote could also come the same day.
Bernanke's term expires on Jan. 31, at which point Vice Chairman Donald Kohn would likely take over if the vote has not yet gone through.
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