WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke said Friday that the headwinds that have until now slowed down the U.S. recovery may be lessening, offering a positive signal the economy is likely to improve this year.

"Near-term fiscal policy at the federal level remains restrictive, but the degree of restraint on economic growth seems less likely to lessen somewhat in 2014 and even more so in 2015; meanwhile, the budgetary situations of state and local governments have improved, reducing the need for further sharp cuts," said Bernanke, speaking at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association in Philadelphia.

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