Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said officials should weigh removing pandemic support at a faster pace, and he retired the word "transitory" to describe stubbornly high inflation, though a new Covid-19 strain remains a risk.

His comments Tuesday before the Senate Banking Committee, where both Democrats and Republicans expressed concerns about high prices, were taken by financial markets as a hawkish pivot. In addition to an accelerated schedule for tapering its bond-buying program, the Fed may deliver sooner-than-expected interest rate increases next year.

"It is appropriate, I think, for us to discuss at our next meeting, which is in a couple of weeks, whether it will be appropriate to wrap up our purchases a few months earlier," said Powell, selected last week by President Joe Biden for another four-year term as Fed chief. "In those two weeks, we are going to get more data and learn more about the new [Covid] variant."

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