(Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Reserve appears set to launch a third round of unconventional monetary stimulus on Thursday while signaling that a weak U.S. economy may warrant ultra-low interest rates for at least another three years.
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Not everyone believes the Fed will embark on another bond- buying spree, and plenty of doubts remain about the likely efficacy of such a move.
But Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has made clear the central bank will not sit idly by while unemployment, currently at 8.1 percent, remains so far above levels consistent with a healthy economic recovery.
Many economists are confident the Fed's policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee will deliver a third round of quantitative easing, or QE3. On median, they see a 60 percent chance, according to a Reuters poll.
The FOMC will announce its decision at about 12:30 p.m. (1630 GMT) at the close of a two-day meeting.
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