Bernanke talk on jobs, prices weigh on dollar

By Associated Press
Posted Feb. 9 at 3:27 p.m.

The dollar lost ground Wednesday after a speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested that the central bank will keep interest rates at record lows and continue its $600 billion bond purchases.

The Fed chief said U.S. inflation remained tame, while the job market has improved but remains stressed, with a “more normal” level of unemployment still several years away. The government said on Friday that January unemployment fell to 9 percent.

The euro rose to $1.3724 late Wednesday from $1.3627 Tuesday.

Bernanke’s speech “further reinforces the market’s view that the Fed will not be hiking interest rates this year,” said Michael Woolfolk, a currency strategist with Bank of New York Mellon in New York.

Lower interest rates tend to weigh on a currency, as they make it less attractive to investors seeking higher returns on their bets. The euro has risen in 2011 as rising prices in Europe have triggered some hopes that the European Central Bank may raise rates sooner than the Fed. Earlier this month, however, ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet said that in the long term, inflation would likely “remain contained,” tamping down some hopes of a rate boost from the ECB.

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