Fed faces tough call on bond buying as economy strengthens

The Federal Reserve will decide on Wednesday whether the U.S. economy is finally resilient enough to withstand less policy support, or whether it is prudent to wait a bit longer. With the world’s financial markets on edge, the U.S. central bank wraps up a two-day meeting with a highly anticipated policy announcement at 2 p.m. (1900 GMT), followed by Ben Bernanke’s last news conference as Fed chairman a half hour later. Recent growth in jobs and retail sales, as well as a fresh budget deal in Congress, has convinced a growing number of economists the time is right for the Fed to trim its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases. If it waits, the Fed might still decide to better telegraph how it plans to wind down the stimulus program, as a handful of its 18 policymakers have suggested in recent weeks.


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