Ben Bernanke's term as chairman of the Federal Reserve expires one year from Thursday. Sometime between now and then he's likely to take his foot off the gas pedal of financial stimulus that is helping to fuel the still-weak U.S. recovery and begin tapping on the brakes.

First appointed by President George W. Bush in 2006 and given a second four-year term as chairman by President Barack Obama, Bernanke hasn't signaled whether he'd like a third term as head of the nation's central bank if Obama pressed him to stay.

But speculation abounds that the former Princeton economics professor is ready to call it quits.

The central bank under Bernanke has kept interest rates ultra-low for more than four years.

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