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The Latest: Fed to end runoff of bond holdings this year

February 27, 2019
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Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell gestures while speaking before the House Committee on Financial Services hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s testimony to the Congress (all times local):

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11:50 a.m.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says that the central bank is close to announcing how it will its end its program to reduce its large holdings of bonds.

Powell tells the House Financial Services Committee that the Fed began a series of three meetings to discuss the issue last fall and has now worked up the framework for a plan to halt the reduction of its $4 trillion balance sheet.

He says the central bank’s plan will result in the end of the asset runoff sometime later this year.

The Fed increased the size of its balance sheet from less than $1 trillion before the financial crisis to a high of around $4.5 trillion as a way of putting downward pressure on long-term interest rates. But starting in October 2017, it began reducing the size of those holdings.

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11:40 a.m.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says that the Fed is making its decisions on interest rates based on “our best thinking” and not political considerations.

Powell’s comments came in response to a question from Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, who noted that President Donald Trump had attacked the Fed’s interest rate decisions repeatedly last year.

In his testimony to the House Financial Services Committee, Powell says the Fed was setting set monetary policy “based on our best thinking and not political considerations.” He says that the Fed’s culture in this area “was a strong one.”

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10:30 am

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is delivering his second day of testimony to Congress, this time to the House Banking Committee, now controlled by Democrats.

Powell is facing questions from committee members about whether moves to loosen banking regulations could put the financial system at risk. President Donald Trump has made government deregulation a key part of his economic program and has nominated officials to the Fed to push that agenda.

Powell’s prepared testimony to the committee is identical to the testimony he delivered Tuesday before the Senate Banking Committee. In it, he says that the Fed intends to take a “patient approach” in determining future hikes to its benchmark interest rate and will be closely watching risks to the economy such as a slowdown in global growth.

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