June's softer-than-expected U.S. retail sales data suggest Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke could reiterate that monetary stimulus will stay in place for now when he testifies to Congress this week, but don't bet on it, say some strategists.
"Never say never with Bernanke and I think that was very much the case last week when he surprised markets," said Robert Rennie, global head of currency strategy at Westpac, talking about what to expect from this week's Bernanke testimony on CNBC Asia's "Squawk Box."
"In recent weeks the message that he's given is that we have seen signs of improvements in the U.S. economy and we're going to move towards tapering. Then he gives us the message that we got last week, so I think markets will be cautious ahead of Bernanke's testimony," he added.
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The Fed chief has sent markets on a rollercoaster ride in recent months.
Comments in May by Bernanke suggesting the Fed could start unwinding its massive monetary stimulus later this year sparked a wave of panic in financial markets. A remark last week that a highly accommodative policy was needed for now meanwhile was met with broad relief.
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Data on Monday showed U.S. retail sales rose just 0.4 percent in June versus market expectations for a 0.8 percent increase which analysts say raise the prospect of a weaker-than-expected reading for second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth.