Fed starts meeting, seen signaling no rush to exit

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve kicked off a two-day meeting on Tuesday that is expected to conclude with a signal that it is in no hurry to scale back its massive support for the economic recovery.

The U.S. central bank, which began meeting at 10:30 a.m., is expected to use a post-meeting statement to confirm that it will complete its $600 billion bond-buying program by the end of June and renew its commitment to maintain rock-bottom borrowing costs for "an extended period."

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The statement is expected at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Following the announcement, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will hold the first-ever regularly scheduled news conference by a Fed chief. The news conference, which starts at 2:15 p.m. (1815 GMT) and is expected to last about 45 minutes, will be broadcast live. Bernanke will open with a brief statement and then take questions.

In another new development aimed at improving public understanding of the Fed's policies, policy-makers will issue their quarterly forecasts for growth, employment, and inflation as the news conference begins. Those forecasts were formerly released as part of the minutes of Fed meetings, which are published three weeks after policy meetings.

(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Neil Stempleman)