JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. — Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke broke little new ground in a speech Friday.

Bernanke, in opening remarks at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City annual symposium, said the Fed's policymaking Federal Open Market Committee will continue consideration of the various monetary policy options he has previously outlined and reiterated that the Fed is "prepared to employ its tools as appropriate."

And while emphasizing the Fed's need to promote "low and stable" inflation "over time," he also stressed the need to bring down high unemployment and shorten the duration of joblessness. Short-term policies to do so will also help the economy's long-term prospects, he said.

In a more explicit explication of the lengthened "forward guidance" which the FOMC adopted at its Aug. 9 meeting, Bernanke made clear that "the most likely scenarios" call for holding the federal funds rate "for at least two more years."

However, unlike his speech here last August, when he signaled a resumption of quantitative easing, nothing Bernanke said could be construed as heralding the impending launch of some new monetary stimulus scheme.

In fact, Bernanke made a point of talking about the limits of monetary policy — something which a number of his FOMC colleagues have also stressed.

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