Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart said the central bank may need to begin a new program of asset purchases if recent economic weakness continues and undermines his forecast for a pickup in the second half of the year.

"If the economy continues on the track indicated by the most recent incoming data and information, that forecast will become untenable, as will the policy premises underlying it." Lockhart said today in remarks prepared for delivery in Jackson, Miss. "My support for the current stance of policy rests on a forecast that sees a step-up of output and employment growth by year-end and into 2013."

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