WASHINGTON – Two weeks before a U.S. election largely focused on the economy, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday that its help is still needed to increase growth and lower unemployment.

The Fed took no action after a two-day policy meeting. It wants time to assess whether the aggressive steps it launched in September will help the economy.

Last month, the Fed began buying mortgage bonds to try to push long-term interest rates lower and make home buying more affordable. It also said it planned to keep its benchmark short-term rate near zero through mid-2015.

The Fed’s statement said the U.S. economy is improving moderately, but job growth has been slow. It said inflation has recently risen slightly because of higher energy prices. But it said inflation over the long run should remain mild.