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Bernanke: Timetable for bond purchases not preset

WASHINGTON (AP) – Chairman Ben Bernanke says the Federal Reserve’s timetable for reducing its bond purchases is not on a “preset course” and the Fed could increase or decrease them based on how the economy performs.

Bernanke tells lawmakers in testimony that the job market has made some progress since the Fed began buying $85 billion a month in bonds in September. And he repeated his belief that the Fed could slow that pace later this year if the economy strengthens.

But Bernanke cautioned that the Fed wants to see substantial progress in the job market before scaling back the bond purchases. If conditions worsen, the Fed could maintain its current pace or even increase it.

The bond purchases are intended to keep long-term interest rates low and encourage more borrowing and spending.

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