Bernanke expected to stick with low-rate stance

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has called the economy "frustratingly slow."

Later today, Congress will find out whether he still thinks so, even after Friday's news that hiring surged in January and unemployment reached a three-year low.

Don't expect a radical new outlook on the economy.

When Bernanke testifies to the Senate Budget Committee, economists expect no shifts in the Fed's efforts to bolster the recovery. They say Bernanke's tone might be slightly more upbeat than when he spoke Thursday to House members. But they expect him to reiterate the Fed's plan to keep a key interest rate at a record low near zero until at least late 2014.

The super-low rates are meant to encourage consumers and businesses to borrow and spend and further strengthen the economy.

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