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Bernanke prods Congress to raise debt ceiling

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 14, 2013 at 7:51 pm •  Published: January 14, 2013

Still, many economists have said they think the Fed will maintain its bond purchases at their current level through 2013.

On Monday, Bernanke didn't address the divisions within the Fed. But he said he thought the new round of bond buying was providing key support. He said the Fed will continue to assess the benefits of the bond buying against any risks of continuing the purchases.

Bernanke said the purchases have shown that the Fed still has "ammunition" to aid the economy even after having cut short-term interest rates to near zero.

Last month, the Fed also said it planned to keep its key short-term interest rate at a record low even after unemployment falls close to a normal level — which it said might take three more years. Unemployment remains high at 7.8 percent because the economy is growing too slowly and not creating jobs fast enough.

In December, employers added 155,000 jobs, roughly matching the monthly average in 2011 and 2012. That's just been enough to slowly reduce the unemployment rate, which fell 0.7 percentage point during 2012.