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Fed’s Powell sees ‘sustained improvement’ in economy, notable rise in inflation

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. economy continues to show “sustained improvement” from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing job market gains, but inflation has “increased notably in recent months,” Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in prepared testimony for a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

Powell did not go into detail in his prepared remarks on current monetary policy, or on the possibility the U.S. central bank may have to speed up its plans to pull back on some support for the economy because of the faster rise in prices.

In his remarks, which were released by the Fed late Monday afternoon, Powell said he regards the current jump in inflation, in fact, as likely to fade.

He also restated his concern that the recovery remained uneven, with joblessness still hitting lower-wage workers, Blacks and Hispanics the hardest.

“We at the Fed will do everything we can to support the economy for as long as it takes to complete the recovery,” Powell said.

Powell is scheduled to testify on Tuesday before the U.S. House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. Its chairman, South Carolina Democrat James Clyburn, chided Powell last year for not more closely tuning Fed emergency programs to workers.

Powell in his remarks said he felt that jobs gains “should pick up in coming months” as COVID-19 vaccinations continue and the reopening of the economy proceeds.

Still “the pandemic continues to pose risks,” he said.

(Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Paul Simao)



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