Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Friday said the U.S. central bank should start the process of reducing its support of the economy by cutting back on its asset purchases, but should not yet touch the interest rate dial.

“I do think it’s time to taper; I don’t think it’s time to raise rates,” Powell said in a virtual appearance before a conference, noting that there are still five million fewer U.S. jobs now than there were before the coronavirus pandemic. He also reiterated his view that high inflation will likely abate next year as pressures from the pandemic fade.

“We think we can be patient and allow the labor market to heal,” he said.

The Fed has promised to keep its benchmark overnight interest rate at the current near-zero level until the economy has returned to full employment and inflation has reached the central bank’s 2% goal and is on track to stay moderately above that level for some time.

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