Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has left open the possibility that the central bank could pick up the pace of its asset tapering if needed to fight inflation.

In testimony Tuesday before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, Powell said that he expects the topic will emerge at the next meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee in December.

“At this point, the economy is very strong and inflationary pressures are higher, and it is therefore appropriate in my view to consider wrapping up the taper of our asset purchases … perhaps a few months sooner,” Powell said at the hearing.

On Nov. 3, the Fed announced that it would begin a phased tapering of its multibillion-dollar asset purchasing program. However, in the statement announcing the taper, Powell did leave open the door to speeding up the program, if needed.

Inflation has picked up in the weeks since the initial taper decision was announced. Last week, the Personal Consumption Expenditure index, the Fed's preferred inflation benchmark, rose 0.6% in October, and the Consumer Price Index hit a 30-year high after prices rose 6.2%.

Equity markets tumbled on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average declining 652.22, or 1.9%, to 34,483.72. The S&P 500 Index dropped 88.27, or 1.9%, to 4,567.00. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 245.14, or 1.6%, to 15,537.69.