Fed boss says United States rates may rise in March

She acknowledged that waiting too long to raise rates could mean the Fed has to hike more rapidly at some point, which "could risk disrupting financial markets and pushing the economy into recession".

"Much of the recent strength we are seeing in the dollar is more attributable to an abrupt about-face in terms of what the markets are expecting from the Federal Reserve's March meeting", said INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir.

Yellen's blunt speech reinforces comments from other Fed officials this week that a rate hike at the two-day meeting ending March 15 meeting was likely.

Interest rate rises in America typically strengthen the dollar, thereby making the pound weaker on a relative basis.

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He called for an end to "trivial fights" and a renewal of "the American spirit" while also doubling down on election promises such as a ramping up military spending and replacing the "Obamacare" health programme.

U.S. stockpiles have risen for seven straight weeks, overshadowing production cuts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The Nasdaq composite gave up 4 points to 5,857.2.

In commodity markets, crude oil prices lost more ground, with rising U.S. oil output adding pressure on the market, although OPEC production cuts continued to offer support.

She also reiterated that the pace of rate increases is likely to speed up over the next few years.

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"Fed Chair Yellen will be giving a speech on Friday".

The bond market was also eyeing the release of U.S. nonfarm payroll data next Friday with a strong number set to further underpin the likelihood of a rate hike.

'Dudley is Yellen's close lieutenant so it's hard to imagine him saying something that she doesn't broadly agree with, ' Bartholomew noted. "... Assuming they hike in March, gradual will likely be defined as three times per year". In fact, the market now needs to seriously think about the possibility of four hikes this year'.

Britain's factories have started 2017 strongly but consumers are turning more cautious about borrowing to spend, according to data which suggested the economy will slow after defying the Brexit shock in 2016. Certainly the better-than-expected February purchasing managers' index (PMI) from China provided some relief for regional markets, reflecting an improvement in the expansion of the manufacturing sector of Asia's giant. The growth rate was the largest since October 2012.

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'However, despite the recent surge in exports, the sector continues to rely mostly on domestic demand and with price rises feeding through on the back of growing input costs, even with their recent easing, inflationary pressure continues to hover with intent, ' he added.

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