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The Fed also noted that bond yields have risen sharply recently at least partly because Bernanke for months has been signaling the bond buying would be cut back this year. It said the tightening of financial conditions," if sustained, could slow the pace of improvement in the economy and labor markets.
The labor market "is far from what all of us would like to see," he said.
Bernanke has said in recent months that the Fed likely would begin dialing back the bond purchases this year and end them by mid 2014, assuming the economy and job market continue to improve. "The general framework" for that phaseout "is still the same," Bernanke said, with an initial reduction "possibly late this year."
The Fed added that federal spending cuts are "restraining economic growth."
The Fed on Wednesday also slightly downgraded its economic forecast. It now expects economic growth of 2.3% to 2.6% this year, down from its June projection of 2.3% to 2.8%. For 2014, growth of 2.9% to 3.1% is expected, vs. its prediction of 3.0% to 3.5% in June.
The Fed also agreed to keep its benchmark short term interest rate near zero at least until the unemployment rate falls to 6.5%, as long as projected inflation rate a year or two out remains below 2.5%.
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But he said Wednesday, "There isn't any magic number," adding that policymakers will look at a variety of labor market indicators. He added, "We can't let market expectations dictate our policy actions." Rather, he said, any reduction in purchases will hinge on the economy.
economic growth than it predicted in June
Begun a year ago, the Fed's bond purchases are credited with helping lift stocks and holding down long term interest rates with the aim of stimulating the economy and job growth.
on Wednesday decided not to pare back the extraordinary stimulus it has pumped into the economy since the 2008 financial crisis, saying it wants to see more evidence that the economy's recent improvement will be sustained.
The Federal Reserve headquarters in Washington.(Photo: J. David Ake AP)
"It was a precautionary step," Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said at a news conference. Fed policymakers, he said, "decided to wait a little longer to make sure the economy is conforming to" their positive Reebok Navy Blue Shoes
In a statement after a two day meeting, the Fed's policymaking committee said it agreed to continue buying $85 billion a month in Treasury bonds and mortgage backed securities. Most economists surveyed by USA TODAY expected the Fed to reduce the purchases by $6 billion to $15 billion.
Story HighlightsThe Fed has bought nearly $860 billion in Treasuries and mortgage backed bonds since last SeptemberInitiative aimed at bolstering the economy and housing market with low interest ratesFed forecasts slower Reebok For Boys
Job growth has fallen the past three months and the housing market's recovery has slowed somewhat amid higher interest rates. Although the unemployment rate has fallen to 7.3% from 8.1% since the Fed began the asset purchases a year ago, Bernanke pointed out a decline last month was due entirely to Americans dropping out of Reebok Classic White the labor force. Long term unemployment, he said, remains high.
In a surprise move, the Federal Reserve Reebok Supreme Run Mt
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke says policymakers want to wait 'a little longer' to make sure economy is on track before reducing Fed's $85 billion a month in bond purchases.
Related: Text of the Fed statement
PDT September 18, 2013
Financial markets largely expected the Fed to announce the start of the tapering at Wednesday's meeting, in part because Bernanke has said the bond purchases likely would end when unemployment falls to 7%.
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