WASHINGTON - Chairman Ben Bernanke says the Federal Reserve's decision Wednesday to slow its bond purchases is a sign of progress and he expects the Fed to take "similar moderate steps" throughout next year to reduce the purchases further if the economy shows continued improvement.
Bernanke made the comments at a news conference after the Fed announced it would begin to reduce its bond purchases by $10 billion in January.
Still, Bernanke cautioned that the Fed's further reductions in the purchases remain dependent on data.
"When we are disappointed with the outcomes, we could skip a meeting or two; if things pick up, we could go faster," he said.
He noted that the economic recovery still remains far from complete and long-term unemployment remains a concern, he said.