The Federal Reserve will start updating the public four times a year on how long it plans to keep short-term interest rates at record lows, according to minutes from its December policy meeting.

The first forecast will be included in the central bank's economic projections after its Jan. 24-25 meeting, the minutes said.

The change in the Fed's communication strategy could help assure investors, companies and consumers that rates won't rise before a specific time. This might help lower long-term yields further -- in effect providing a kind of stimulus.

The Fed has previously said that it plans to keep its key short-term rate near zero until at least mid-2013, unless the economy improves.

 

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