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Bernanke signals no rush to reverse stimulus

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke signaled on Wednesday that the U.S. central bank is in no rush to scale back its support for the economy with the labor market still in a "very, very deep hole." The Fed trimmed its forecast for 2011 economic growth in a nod to a weak start to the year and bumped up its projections for inflation, which caused some jitters in financial markets. The central bank's policy-setting committee said after a two-day meeting it will complete the purchase of $600 billion in bonds in June to support the economy's recovery, and said it would keep its balance sheet, currently at $2.67 trillion, steady for a time to ensure its support does not fade. It also repeated it plans to keep overnight interest rates, which it has held near zero since December 2008, extraordinarily low for "an extended period." "It is a relatively slow recovery," Bernanke said at a news conference, the first after a policy meeting by a Fed chief in the central bank's 97-year history. "The combination of high unemployment, high gas prices and high foreclosure rates is a terrible combination. A lot of people are having a tough time." Bernanke appeared nervous at the start of the briefing...

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