CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday that the U.S. central bank will continue to pursue an accommodative monetary policy for now as inflation remains low and the employment rate may be overstating the health of the labor market.
"The overall message is accommodation," Bernake said at a conference sponsored by the National Bureau of Economic Research. He said that a "highly accommodative policy is needed for the forseeable future."
Markets recently sold off amid fears that the Fed may begin to taper its monthly bond-buying program.
Bernanke said the current unemployment rate of 7.6 percent "if anything overstates the health of the labor market" and said the central bank will not automatically raise interest rates when the unemployment rate hits 6.5 percent.
The housing market is a bright spot in the economy, Bernanke said, adding that the Fed is "somewhat optimistic" for the outlook on the U.S. economy.
(Reporting By Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Leslie Adler)