WASHINGTON — When the Federal Reserve offers its latest word on interest rates this week, few think it will telegraph the one thing investors have been most eager to know: when it will slow its bond purchases, which have kept long-term borrowing rates low.
The Fed might choose to clarify a separate issue: when it may raise its key short-term rate. The Fed has kept that rate near zero since 2008. It has said it plans to keep it there at least as long as unemployment remains above 6.5 percent and the inflation outlook below 2.5 percent. Unemployment is now at 7.6 percent; the inflation rate is roughly 1 percent.