A comparison of the Federal Reserve's statements from its two-day meeting that ended Wednesday and its meeting Dec. 17-18:

A comparison of the Federal Reserve's statements from its two-day meeting that ended Wednesday and its meeting Dec. 17-18:

BOND PURCHASES:

January: Fed policymakers "decided to make a further measured reduction in the pace of its asset purchases," to $65 billion a month.

December: Fed policymakers announced the first cut to their $85 billion monthly bond purchase program, to $75 billion: "In light of the cumulative progress toward maximum employment and the improvement in the outlook for labor market conditions, (policymakers) decided to modestly reduce the pace of its asset purchases."

ECONOMY:

Now: The Fed's assessment is little changed: "Growth in economic activity picked up in recent quarters. Labor market indicators were mixed but on balance showed further improvement."

Then: "Economic activity is expanding at a moderate pace. Labor market conditions have shown further improvement."

CONSUMER AND BUSINESS SPENDING:

Now: "Household spending and business fixed investment advanced more quickly in recent months, while the recovery in the housing sector slowed somewhat."

Then: "Household spending and business fixed investment advanced, while the recovery in the housing sector slowed somewhat in recent months."