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Bernanke: Recovery Slower Than Expected

Bullard said the Fed is contemplating more quantitative easing measures, but any new programs should be disciplined.

Bullard said the economic outlook is still positive overall, and will continue to pick up in the second half of this year and into 2011. Even so, he conceded that the economy is currently softer than the Fed had expected it to be.

Gross domestic product in the second quarter was downwardly revised to 1.6%, the Department of Commerce reported early Friday, from a previous reading of 2.4%. Despite the revision, the economic growth rate managed to top economists' expectations for a pace of 1.4%.

The University of Michigan said its index of consumer sentiment for August came in at a final reading of 68.9, from a prior reading of 69.6, disappointing economists who expected the figure to be flat.

In the still-struggling housing sector, data released this week showed sales of newly built homes fell 12.4% in July to a new record-low rate, while existing home sales plummeted 27.2% last month. Both sets of data came in far worse than expected.

The data sparked a heated debate among readers of TheStreet. Join the discussion here.

Record-low and near-record-low mortgage rates have failed to spark demand for housing in recent months, but clearly had an effect on homeowners looking to lower their monthly payments.

Mortgage applications rose 4.9% in the week ended Aug 20, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday. Refi applications accounted for 82.4% of all applications last week, up from 81.4% in the prior week, and the highest share observed since January 2009.

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