Quantitative easing (QE) may turn out to be a gift that keeps ongiving for the U.S. economy.

As the Federal Reserve prepares to end its third round of bondbuying next week, the central bank plans to hang on to the record$4.48 trillion balance sheet it has accumulated since announcingthe first round of purchases in November 2008.

That will continue to keep a lid on borrowing costs, helping theFed lift inflation closer to its target and providing support to afive-year expansion facing headwinds abroad, from war in theMideast to slowing growth in Europe and China.

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