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Fed ponders whether bolder economic action needed

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By Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve policymakers are wrestling with what additional steps — if any — should be taken to strengthen the plodding economy and drive down near double-digit unemployment.

Lots of lively debate is expected at Tuesday's meeting. But few expect any major programs to be unveiled. Instead, many will be looking to see if the Fed offers new clues about the timing of any new aid and what changes in the economy would trigger such a move. To give the Fed extra time for discussions, Tuesday's meeting is scheduled to start around 8 a.m. — earlier than when it has two-day sessions.

There are differing views on the Fed's main policymaking group — the Federal Open Markets Committee — about what should be done. And some pressure is off after a few mildly positive economic reports showed the pace of layoffs has slowed, shoppers' appetites to spend has picked up and factory production is growing.

The reports have helped to ease concerns about the economy slipping back into a new recession, giving the Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues a little breathing room.


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