Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in his first news conference that the central bank will phase out its $600 billion bond-buying program as planned. Fed officials also tried to reassure consumers that they are working to keep inflation in check and to boost the economic recovery. "It is very hard to blame the American public for being impatient," Bernanke said. "Conditions are far from where we would like them to be. The combination of high unemployment, high gas prices and high foreclosure rates is a terrible combination, and a lot of people are having a very tough time."

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