Chairman Ben Bernanke says the Federal Reserve could scale back its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases later this year if the economy continues to improve.

Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben Bernanke (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Bernanke says the reductions would occur in "measured steps" and that the program could end by the middle of next year. His comments were made during a news conference Wednesday after the Fed concluded its two-day policy meeting.

After the meeting, the Fed voted to continue the pace of its bond-buying program to keep long-term interest rates at record lows. But it offered a more optimistic outlook for the U.S. economy and job market.

 

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