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“We have tried very hard to be nonpartisan and apolitical,” he said. “Our decisions are based on the needs of the economy. That’s the best way to maintain our independence and maintain the trust of the public.”

Mr. Bernanke said the Fed action is not a “cure-all” for the economy and action still is needed by Congress to address the so-called “fiscal cliff” of expiring tax cuts at the end of the year and to bring down budget deficits over the long term to avert a debt crisis.

“Monetary policy is not a panacea. We’re looking for other policymakers to do their part,” he said. “We’ll do our part, but we can’t solve this problem by ourselves.”

Brian Gardner, Washington analyst at Keefe, Bruyette and Woods, said Republicans may discover a downside to their aggressive assault this year on Mr. Bernanke, whose loose money policies have been a big elixir on Wall

Street as much of the money the Fed is pouring into the economy has ended up in the stock market.

Markets reacted ebulliently Thursday, with the Dow clearing 13,500 for the first time since the beginning of the Great Recession and landing at 13,540, within 625 points of its all-time high. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index also soared to its highest level since 2007.

“The markets could react poorly to a Romney victory, since it could be taken as a sign of the end of Fed accommodation,” Mr. Gardner said.

Conservative members of the Fed also have waged an internal battle against further easing. But while vocal in raising their objections, they appear to be in a distinct minority. Thursday’s decision drew one lone dissenter — Jeffrey Lacker, the hawkish president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

Action by the Fed was enthusiastically welcomed on Wall Street.

“The Federal Reserve is speaking loudly and carrying a big stick,” said Ryan Sweet, senior economist at Moody’s Analytics, who noted that the Fed pulled out a bigger arsenal of weapons to fight the economic torpor than most economists expected.

Besides instituting an open-ended program to buy mortgage bonds, which coupled with ongoing investment programs will bring the total of monthly Fed long-term bond purchases to $85 billion, the Fed also said it will keep its target for short-term interests near zero through mid-2015.

Also in a major change, the Fed clearly indicated that these latest measures will continue until it sees significant improvement in the job market, where job growth of a little more than 100,000 a month on average has not been sufficient to reduce the unemployment rate to normal levels or put back to work millions of people idled by the recession.

“It’s an aggressive step — making future monetary easing contingent on the health of the job market,” Mr. Sweet said. While some economists question how effective the latest moves will be, given that interest rates already are at or near record lows, Mr. Sweet was optimistic it will help the economy.

Previous Fed bond-purchase programs “successfully lifted the economy before,” and raised the economy’s output by an estimated 1.2 percent, he said. “While we would expect to see diminishing returns from future quantitative easing, it is likely to add a few tenths of a percentage point” to economic growth this year, he said.

“By focusing on mortgages, the Fed is attempting to jump-start the housing market” in particular, Mr. Sweet said. “Housing has shown signs of life recently but the improvement has been gradual and uneven.” While the connection with the job market is “blurry,” he said, the Fed move should help spur employment in construction, the industry hit hardest by the recession.

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