In its last scheduled meeting of the 2009 calendar year, a committee of top Federal Reserve officials said on Wednesday that it would continue to keep interest rates at record low levels for an extended period, as expected, but acknowledged that the labor market deterioration is abating.

Despite continuing constraints on household spending, the Federal Open Market Committee said financial market conditions had become more supportive of economic growth.

The Fed kept its key interest rate, the federal funds rate, at 0 to ¼ percent.

It also noted that Businesses were slowing the rate of fixed investment cutbacks and were making progress in bringing their inventories into alignment with sales.

The Fed also confirmed that it still expected to end various facilities to add liquidity to the markets at the start of February “in light of ongoing improvements in the functioning of financial markets.”