By Amy Sawitta Lefevre BANGKOK (Reuters) - Anti-government protesters marched in Bangkok on Thursday in a bid to force Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office but their numbers appeared far smaller than earlier in the month, when she called a snap election to try to defuse the crisis. Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban is demanding political and electoral reforms before any vote is held and wants these to be overseen by a "people's council" his movement will help nominate rather than by Yingluck, who is caretaker prime minister until the election, set for February 2. One sign read: "We will not accept Square Face", a nickname given to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck's brother and the figure at the centre of Thailand's eight-year, on-off political crisis.
The Federal Reserve announced Wednesday it would start tapering its massive stimulus program in January, giving a vote of confidence in the recovery of the US economy and job market. The Fed will buy $75 billion on bonds a month next month, down from the $85 billion monthly asset purchases it has made for a year, the Federal Open Market Committee said after a two-day monetary policy meeting. Stocks rallied to new record highs after the Fed action, which marked the beginning of the end of five years of its easy-money policy, aimed at helping the world's largest economy recover from the devastating recession. "In light of the cumulative progress toward maximum employment and the improvement in the outlook for labor market conditions, the Committee decided to modestly reduce the pace of its asset purchases," the FOMC said in a statement.