Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen struck a decidedly dovish tone in indicating that it would be a while before the central bank's Open Market Commmittee makes a move on interest rates.
The central bank chief said caution would be used as the jobs picture improves but inflation remains muted. Her comments were received in a generally positive manner from the market, which pushed stocks further into record territory on hopes that the Fed would not move too aggressively in boosting its short-term interest rate target off near-zero levels.
"The FOMC's assessment that it can be patient in beginning to normalize policy means that the Committee considers it unlikely that economic conditions will warrant an increase in the target range for the federal funds rate for at least the next couple of FOMC meetings," Yellen said in prepared remarks before the Senate Banking Committee.
Market expectations had been for a June rate increase, but minutes released from the latest FOMC meeting have led some to speculate that a September move, or later, could be in the cards.
Yellen promised that markets would have plenty of notice.