Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the Fed will probably hold down its target interest rate long after ending $85 billion in monthly bond buying, and possibly after unemployment falls below 6.5%.

“The target for the federal funds rate is likely to remain near zero for a considerable time after the asset purchases end, perhaps well after” the jobless rate breaches the Fed’s 6.5% threshold, Bernanke said yesterday in a speech to economists in Washington. A “preponderance of data” will be needed to begin removing accommodation, he said.

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