The Federal Reserve is prepared to take further steps to ease monetary policy should the current economic recovery stall, according to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Bernanke described the forecast as "unusually uncertain," but added that policymakers expect sustained growth to continue, despite a recent softening in the economy.
"We remain prepared to take further policy actions as needed to foster a return to full utilization of our nation's productive potential in a context of price stability," he said.
Bernanke said that the central bank will continue "prudent planning for the ultimate withdrawal of monetary policy accommodation."
The Fed has held interest rates close to zero since December 2008, while bringing more than $1.5 trillion in mortgage and Treasury bonds to battle the recession and financial crisis.
While the economy has grown for the past year, it is still hampered by high unemployment, instability in the housing market, and a sluggish manufacturing sector.