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Fed reporter Ip to leave WSJ, join Economist

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Wall Street Journal's influential Federal Reserve reporter will quit the newspaper next month, the latest high-level departure since News Corp NWSa.N bought the Journal last year.

Greg Ip will join The Economist magazine as U.S. economics editor, he told Reuters on Tuesday, after covering the Fed since 2001 for the Journal. He likely will join the weekly in late July, he said.

At The Economist he will be responsible for writing and reporting on the U.S. economy and economic policy, including the Federal Reserve, he wrote in an e-mailed statement.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for me to expand my horizons, to learn a more analytical and critical style of writing, to serve a rapidly growing and discerning readership worldwide, and to work with a remarkable group of journalists and editors who share my passion for economics,” he wrote.

Ip’s stories in the Journal have been widely followed by financial market participants seeking clues into the Federal Reserve’s thinking about interest rates and the economy.

The news of Ip’s departure comes the same day the Wall Street Journal ran a Page One story from reporter Sudeep Reddy that typically would have been Ip’s bailiwick.

It described the thinking of Fed officials and the likelihood they will hold benchmark lending rates steady for now despite market expectations of a rate hike to fight accelerating inflation. The article was widely cited by market players on Tuesday as a factor in trading.

A DIRECT LINE TO GREENSPAN

Investors and economists read Ip’s stories closely for insight into the Fed’s thinking. Many people see him as someone with strong sources inside the U.S. central bank and Wall Street, making him a conduit for the Fed’s messages to financial markets.

“Ip took over as WSJ Fed reporter and quickly established a reputation for accuracy as if he had a direct line to Greenspan and the central core of policy makers surrounding him,” said Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial.

“Ip seemed to have a tougher time reading Bernanke than Greenspan, but his column was always a reality check before Federal Open Market Committee meetings,” Low said.

The Journal has been aggressively hiring new staff, but has weathered several big departures since Murdoch took over the paper. Among them are its former top editor, Marcus Brauchli, as well as Bill Grueskin, deputy managing editor for news.

A Journal spokesman declined to comment.

Ip decided to leave, he said in an e-mail interview with Reuters. “I was not asked to leave; the Journal wanted me to stay,” he wrote.

He said it would be difficult to leave as News Corp ramps up ambitious expansion plans. “In particular they have a commitment to being a bigger force globally.”

Ip, 43, started working at the Journal in 1996. He previously worked for Canadian newspapers The Vancouver Sun, the Financial Post and The Globe and Mail in Toronto.

Additional reporting by Al Yoon in New York; Additional writing by Chris Sanders in New York and Emily Kaiser in Washington; Editing by Phil Berlowitz

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