WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The chief of the International Monetary Fund on Thursday said the Federal Reserve's decision to not scale back asset purchases earlier this week was in line with what the fund had urged the U. S. central bank to do.

"The IMF has always said that it should be gradual, that it should be based on data, with clear indication of what the criteria would be," Lagarde told reporters after giving a speech at the U. S. Chamber of Commerce. "So clearly the decision that was communicated yesterday and the various comments made by the chairman show that it's exactly what we at the fund have advocated."

Based on the IMF's forecasts for the U. S. economy made in July, Lagarde said the Fed should begin reducing its bond-buying program at the end of 2013.

"The future would tell when the chairman (of the Federal Reserve) and his board deems that it's appropriate, but for the moment, it's clearly the approach that we've always recommended," Lagarde said of the decision not to taper yet.

(Reporting by Anna Yukhananov)

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