The Federal Reserve on Wednesday resumed a two-day meeting that was expected to end with a statement emphasizing the U.S. economy's fragile state, an effort to dissuade financial markets from expecting an increase in interest rates this year.

A Fed official said the meeting resumed at 9 a.m. EDT A statement outlining the U.S. central bank's thinking on the economy and monetary policy is due at about 2:15 p.m.

Economists widely expect the Fed to hold the overnight federal funds rate in a zero to 0.25 percent range, the level reached in December.

In addition, few if any changes are expected to its previously announced plans to purchase $300 billion of longer-dated U.S. government bonds and $1.45 trillion of mortgage debt, an effort it has launched to drive down borrowing costs set in financial markets.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Neil Stempleman)