WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke Thursday told lawmakers it is too soon for the central bank to decide exactly when in the latter half of the year it will begin slowing the pace of its $85 billion a month in asset purchases.

On day two of what many believe will be his final semiannual testimony to Congress on monetary policy, Bernanke also told the Senate Banking Committee that even when the Fed halts its bond buying, a "potentially lengthy period" will follow before it begins to raise interest rates.

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