Fed gathers to take U.S. economy's pulse

Meanwhile, the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility is intended to spark lending to consumers and small businesses. It got off to a slow start in March and is slated to shut down at the end of December. Despite the TALF, many people are having trouble getting loans, analysts say. More recently, the program was expanded to provide relief to the commercial real-estate market.

The Fed isn't expected to launch any new revival efforts or change another existing program that aims to push down mortgage rates. In that venture, the Fed is on track to buy $1.25 trillion worth of securities issued by mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by the end of the year. The central bank's recent purchases have totaled about $542.8 billion.

Inflation, meanwhile, is expected to stay low.

The government reported Tuesday that workers' productivity grew sharply in the second quarter, while their hourly compensation — adjusted for inflation — fell. Productivity gains helps to tamp down inflationary pressures. While good for the economy, the second-quarter gain came at the expense of layoffs. Companies simply produced more with fewer workers.

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