Bernanke could signal Fed's next step in testimony
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Chairman Ben Bernanke could offer some clues about whether the Federal Reserve is poised to take another step to jolt the sluggish U.S. economy when he appears before Congress this week.
Bernanke gives his semiannual report to the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday and to the House Financial Services Committee Wednesday. His testimony comes as job growth has slumped, manufacturing has weakened and consumers have grown more cautious.
Minutes of the Fed's June 19-20 meeting show officials were open to taking further action. But they were divided over whether the economy needs help now.
Investors are hoping Bernanke will signal another round of bond purchases is in the offing. The purchases seek to push long-term interest rates down further. The first two rounds triggered powerful rallies in the U.S. stock market.