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The Federal Reserve will continue to bolster the U.S. economy, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said on Monday, given the halting pace of the recovery and a still moribund job market.
In some ways, labor conditions are tougher now than in any other recession, Yellen said at a speech in Chicago. She added the Fed's "extraordinary commitment," in the form of massive bond-buying and ultra-low interest rates, is "still needed, and will be for some time."
Investors were closely monitoring Yellen's speech for comments on interest rates. During her first news conference following the Fed's Open Market Committee (FOMC) rate decision, traders were startled by the suggestion of an earlier-than-anticipated increase in rates. She hinted that a rate hike could come as soon as next year, but Monday's speech tempered that idea.
Yellen, who took the helm of the central bank a few months ago, said the economy was "considerably short" of the Fed's goals. The Fed chief's remarks, given at the 2014 National Interagency Community Reinvestment Conference, hinted that—at a minimum—interest rates would remain at near-zero levels for an extended period.
She also underscored how the jobs lost in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis have yet to come back, and have left millions suffering in the aftermath.
"The past six years have been difficult for many Americans, but the hardships faced by some have shattered lives and families," Yellen said. "Too many people know firsthand how devastating it is to lose a job at which you had succeeded and be unable to find another; to run through your savings and even lose your home."
Stocks surged on Yellen's dovish assessment of the economy. The spiked to session highs, adding more than 100 points and within view of a new record high.
Bond traders, however, continued to fight the Fed. The price of the , however, plunged as Wall Street cheered the Fed chief's remarks. The 10-year yield hovered near 2.7 percent, down substantially from December's peak at 3.0 percent.
In recent days, yields—which move in the opposite direction of price and affect borrowing costs—have crept higher on the suggestion that the economy was improving, and amid speculation the Fed might tighten monetary policy.
—CNBC.com's JeeYeon Park and The Associated Press contributed to this report.