The Federal Open Market Committee was a little more upbeat than in December, but left the bond-purchase program known as QE2 intact. The FOMC statment was little changed, with the Fed noting a pickup in both household and business spending late in the year, the rise in commodity prices, and the fact that the drop in the December unemployment rate doesn't represent "a significant improvement in labor market conditions."
There was no dissent among voting members, a reflection of annual turnover in the rotating committee spots with a vote. Kansas City Federal Reserve Board President Thomas Hoenig -- the lone dissenter in 2010 -- rotated out and there was no disagreement, at this point, among those rotating in.
The next FOMC meeting is March 15, and in the interim we'll see two employment reports, two estimates on fourth quarter gross domestic product, and a full cycle of monthly economic data. While the Fed isn't inclined to end QE2 prematurely, the March and April meetings may see a formal recognition from the Fed that they'll have no further stimulus once QE2 expires in June.