WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve expects to keep its benchmark interest rate pegged near zero at least through 2023 as it strives to accelerate economic growth and drive down the unemployment rate.

The central bank also said Wednesday that it will seek to push inflation above 2% annually. The Fed also left its benchmark short-term rate unchanged at nearly zero, where it has been since the pandemic intensified in March. The Fed’s benchmark interest rate influences borrowing costs for homebuyers, credit card users, and businesses.

Fed policymakers hope an extended period of low interest rates will encourage more borrowing and spending.

(Story written by CHRISTOPHER RUGABER/AP)