Fed's Yellen: Further Gradual Interest Rates Increases Likely Warranted

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The dollar eased form highs against a basket of global currencies on Wednesday, as Janet Yellen's prepared remarks to congress pointed to a "gradual" tightening in interest rates, revealing that the Federal Reserve remained wary of continually raising rates amid a slowdown in inflation.

The Fed chair illustrated an economy that is growing steadily, adding jobs, benefiting from steady household consumption and strengthening on increased business investment.

Investors and some Fed officials, concerned with the recent dip in inflation, have been wanting to see a surer progress toward the central bank's goal of 2 percent inflation.

While investors and some Fed officials are anxious about the recent dip in inflation and are looking for greater progress toward the central bank's 2% target, Yellen argued that some temporary factors are holding back inflation but the Fed is still on pace to hit its target goal.

"It was a little bit more dovish than most had thought", said Richard Scalone, co-head of foreign exchange at TJM Brokerage in Chicago.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.47 percent.

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"Yellen highlighted inflation uncertainty at a time when the doves of the board have increasingly started questioning about possibly stalling the tightening process until inflation is closer to target", said Paresh Upadhyaya, portfolio manager at Amundi Pioneer in Boston.

The Fed still feels the economy needs loose - or accommodative - monetary policy, so a lower neutral rate may mean fewer rate hikes.

Chances of an interest rate hike at the Fed's December meeting fell to 53 percent from 60 percent after the release of Yellen's testimony, according to CME Group's FedWatch tool.

Wall Street edged marginally higher on Thursday ahead of profit reports due Friday from several big U.S. banks.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against six major rivals, was up 0.08 percent to 95.748, after falling to 95.511, its lowest since June 30. The Shanghai Composite slid 0.14 percent and the Shenzhen Composite slid 0.204 percent.