WASHINGTON - The Federal Reserve is changing its schedule for issuing policy statements, a shift that will give Chairman Ben Bernanke more control over how investors respond to the Fed's decisions. The Fed will now issue a statement at 2 p.m. Eastern time for all eight meetings. Four of those meetings will be followed by a Bernanke news conference at 2:30 p.m.
Prior to the change, nearly two hours passed between when the statement was issued and Bernanke's news conference began. By reducing the time in between, Bernanke can more quickly manage how the statement is interpreted. Investors scrutinize the Fed's words for signals of when it might start raising interest rates. The time changes will go into effect at the Fed's next meeting on March 19-20. Many economists believe Fed officials will maintain their low-interest rate policies at current levels but take no new steps at the March meeting.