Federal Reserve policymakers are meeting this week against the backdrop of conflicting economic data, as pent-up demand causes consumer prices to surge – even as millions of Americans remain unemployed more than one year after the coronavirus pandemic began.

Economists will be closely watching the Fed's new policy statement, which will be released Wednesday afternoon, for signs that central bank officials are ready to start talking about tapering the bond-buying program that began in March 2020 and provide guidance on when – and how quickly – they expect to pare back the monetary support. 

FED BALANCE SHEET TOPS $8T FOR THE FIRST TIME

Officials will be carefully treading the line between their pledge to support the economy until it reaches full employment and an uptick in inflation. Still, most economists say they anticipate that the Fed will signal either at its June meeting or later this summer that it's beginning to tighten monetary policy. 

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