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WASHINGTON (AP) -- With the economy on the mend, Federal Reserve policymakers last month felt comfortable slowing the pace of one of its economic revival programs and not changing any others, according to documents released Wednesday.
Minutes of the central bank's closed door deliberations, held Aug. 11-12, also showed Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues striking a much more hopeful note about the economy's prospects compared with an assessment made in late June. Many Fed officials saw "smaller downside risks," the documents stated.
Fed officials expected the pace of the recovery to "pick up" in 2010, but there was a range of views -- and considerable uncertainty -- about the likely strength of the upturn because of concerns about how consumers will behave.
After being pounded by the recession, consumer spending finally appeared to be leveling out, the housing market was firming and manufacturing was stabilizing, the Fed said. Plus, the outlook for other countries' economies improved, auguring well for the sale of U.S. exports.
All that strengthened the confidence of Fed officials that "the downturn in economic activity was ending." They also repeated a prediction that the economy would start growing again in the second half of this year.
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