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Healthcare

UPDATE 1-NY Fed's Williams says "a lot of positives" ahead for the economy

(Adds more of Williams comments and context)

NEW YORK, March 30 (Reuters) - As more Americans are vaccinated and households and businesses benefit from fiscal support, there are reasons to be optimistic about the U.S. economy, New York Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams said on Tuesday.

“I’m optimistic about the overall economy,” Williams said during a virtual event organized by the New York Fed and AARP about small businesses. “We’re making great strides on the vaccination program...I think we have a lot of positives going forward.”

The policymaker said low interest rates caused by the Fed’s rate cuts reduce borrowing costs and can help the economy rebound, he said.

Fed officials agreed at their March meeting to leave interest rates at near zero levels and to keep purchasing $120 billion a month in bonds until “substantial further progress” is made for the central bank’s goals on inflation and the labor market.

But fiscal support, including aid to households and small businesses, will also be important for the recovery going forward, Williams said.

Earlier on Tuesday, the New York Fed and AARP released research showing that the coronavirus pandemic dealt a heavy blow to small businesses owned by older Americans from minority groups, and that Asian-owned firms were particularly hard hit by closures and revenue declines. (Reporting by Jonnelle Marte, Editing by Franklin Paul and Sonya Hepinstall)

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