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Bernanke signals Fed to maintain stimulus efforts

WASHINGTON – Chairman Ben Bernanke is telling Congress that the U.S. job market remains weak and that it is too soon for the Federal Reserve to end its extraordinary stimulus programs.

In testimony to the Joint Economic Committee, Bernanke notes the economy is growing moderately this year and unemployment has fallen to a four-year low of 7.5 percent. Still, unemployment remains well above levels consistent with healthy economies. And Bernanke says higher taxes and deep federal spending cuts are expected to slow economic growth this year.

Bernanke says reducing the Fed's efforts to keep borrowing rates low would "carry a substantial risk of slowing or ending the economic recovery."

The Fed's low interest-rate polices have made borrowing cheaper and helped ignite a huge stock rally this year.

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