Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, chief inflation-watcher for the U.S. economy.(Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP)
WASHINGTON (AP) - Investors and analysts will be hanging on every word uttered Wednesday by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke when he testifies before a joint economic committee on Capitol Hill. They'll be looking for any sign of a policy shift.
The Fed is currently pursuing an aggressive program of bond purchases to try to keep long-term interest rates down and encourage borrowing and spending.
Some Fed officials have said the central bank should start to curtail its bond purchases before year's end, so long as the economy has improved. Other officials have suggested the opposite -- an expansion of bond buying if the economy needs it.
In recent weeks, the job market and the broader economy have shown renewed vigor.
The economy has benefited from a resurgent housing market, rising consumer confidence and the Fed's stimulus actions, which have helped ignite a stock market rally.