Bernanke: Growth hinges on stabilizing markets

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave Congress a grim assessment of the state of the economy Wednesday, saying that business growth hinges on stabilizing troubled financial markets.

Bernanke, in remarks prepared for the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, said the Fed will "act as needed" to minimize the disruptions to America's business life. His appearance came not long after President Bush said he remained confident that the administration and Congress will reach agreement soon on a "robust" plan to relieve the financial and credit crisis.

Lawmakers have voiced skepticism about the the administration's $700 billion bailout plan, however, and both Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson heard skeptical statements from Senate Banking Committee members when they went to Capitol Hill Tuesday to plea for passage of the plan.