Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Tuesday that there have been tentative signs of a slowing in the steep economic decline, offering hope that the worst of the recession may be drawing to a close. Speaking in Atlanta to the Morehouse College, Bernanke also addressed the Fed's continued commitment to prices stability, although he noted that inflation is likely to remain exceptionally low for some time.

Recently we have seen tentative signs that the sharp decline in economic activity may be slowing, Bernanke said. He cited statistics in home sales, homebuilding, and consumer spending, with sales of new motor vehicles showing some signs of leveling out.

A leveling out of economic activity is the first step toward recovery, Bernanke added.

In terms of price stability, Bernanke stressed that the Fed is still focusing on the risk of inflation and remain committed to unloading the Fed's balance sheet in a timely fashion.

I can assure you that monetary policy-makers are fully committed to acting as needed to withdraw on a timely basis the extraordinary support now being provided to the economy, and we are confidence in our ability to do so, Bernanke said.

The Fed treats its obligation to ensure price stability extremely seriously, Bernanke added.

However, in the near term inflation is likely to remain subdued, the Fed Chairman stressed.

Right now, because of the weakness in economic conditions here and around the world, inflation has been running less than that, and our best forecast is that inflation will remain quite low for some time, he said.

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