Bernanke Sees Tepid U.S. Growth in 2012

Bernanke Sees Tepid U.S. Growth in 2012

Fed chief expects inflation to remain 'subdued.'

U.S. growth this year will stay close to or slightly above the sluggish 2.25% pace of the second half of 2011, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday.

Bernanke also said that the recent rise in oil prices will push up inflation "temporarily", but that over the longer term, "inflation will remain subdued."

In semi-annual testimony to Congress, the U.S. central bank chief said the U.S. economy had strengthened in some key ways, but that high unemployment, stagnant wages and the depressed housing market continued to limit expansion.

Based on limited data for the beginning of this year, he said, growth is likely to proceed in the coming quarters "at a pace close to or somewhat above" the pace of the second half of 2011, which he put at an annual rate of 2.25%.

His testimony was prepared before the Commerce Department released early Wednesday a revised estimate of fourth-quarter growth of 3.0%.

Despite the weakness in the economy, Bernanke gave no hints as to whether the Fed was thinking about injecting more stimulus into the economy, via its bond repurchase program, which pushes down long-term interest rates.

Copyright 2012 Agence France-Presse
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