Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Tuesday that the U.S. economic outlook remains "highly uncertain" amid the coronavirus pandemic, although ongoing vaccinations raise hope for an improved situation later this year.

The Federal Reserve building is pictured in Washington on Dec. 15, 2020. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

"In recent weeks, the number of new cases and hospitalizations has been falling, and ongoing vaccinations offer hope for a return to more normal conditions later this year," Powell said in prepared remarks for congressional testimony.

"However, the economic recovery remains uneven and far from complete, and the path ahead is highly uncertain," he added.

The U.S. central bank has maintained its accommodative monetary policy stance, with interest rates left near zero since March last year and massive bond-buying continuing.

"We are committed to using our full range of tools to support the economy and to help ensure that the recovery from this difficult period will be as robust as possible," Powell said before the Senate banking committee. The hearing was conducted remotely.