WASHINGTON (AP) - Jittery investors will be shining the spotlight on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke this week, looking for clues on interest rate policy.
Financial markets have been gyrating in the 3½ weeks since Bernanke told Congress the Fed might scale back its effort to keep long-term rates at record lows within "the next few meetings"- earlier than many had assumed.
The Fed's policy meeting is this week and Bernanke will answer questions when it's done.
Bernanke has cautioned that the Fed would slow its support only if it felt confident the job market would show sustained improvement.
Yet investors were left puzzled and spooked by a mixed message. Fear spread that the Fed would soon slow its $85 billion-a-month in bond purchases. Many worried that a pullback in the bond purchases could boost long-term rates, trigger a stock selloff and perhaps weaken the economy.