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Fed Official: Unclear If U.S. Slump Is Bottoming Out

U.S. economy showing nascent signs of recovery but it's too soon to say whether the most severe recession in decades is nearing a bottom, a top Federal Reserve official said.

HONG KONG (AP) -- The U.S. economy is showing nascent signs of recovery but it's too soon to say whether the country's most severe recession in decades is nearing a bottom, a top Federal Reserve official said Tuesday.

Richard W. Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, echoed the view of other U.S. policymakers that the world's largest economy was beginning to show "green shoots."

"It's too early to tell if we've hit a bottom, but it seems the risk of falling of the table is significantly less than it was before," Fisher told reporters in Hong Kong when asked about recent improvements in American consumer spending.

He said better functioning credit markets and higher stock prices were "positive signs" but time would tell whether they signaled a sustained turnaround.

Fisher, a nonvoting member of the central-bank's key decision-making panel, the Federal Open Market Committee, is set to visit China and South Korea as part of a tour of the region.

Fisher rebutted the idea Asian economies would "decouple" from those in the West amid the global downturn. And he maintained the U.S. and China would never do anything to harm each other's financial interests because their economies are so heavily linked.

"China cannot succeed unless the United States succeeds. And I sense that China's leadership ... are very eager for the United States to recover," Fisher said. "We realize we need China to succeed as well."

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