While acknowledging that the economy is improving, the Federal Reserve reaffirmed its commitment to keep interest rates at close to zero. "What the Fed is looking for, as is everybody else, is: When does the recovery look like it is sustainable?" said Mickey Levy, an economist at Bank of America. The central bank's statement came ahead of the Senate banking committee's scheduled vote regarding Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's nomination for another four-year term. Bernanke is expected to stay on despite vocal opposition.

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