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Politico reported late Thursday afternoon that President Donald Trump was favoring Powell among a handful of candidates he has recently vetted. Powell has been recommended to the president by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
The two-year Treasury yield slipped to 1.53 percent. It most reflects Fed rate moves, and had been as high as 1.57 earlier in the day.
Powell is seen as a steady hand on the central bank. Of all the candidates in the running for Fed chair, Powell is seen as most similar to Yellen.
A Republican, Powell has been on the Fed's Board of Governors since 2012. Trump interviewed Yellen Thursday, but she was not seen as a leading candidate.
"I think he's the best choice and from a number of perspectives," said Tom Simons, money market economist at Jefferies. "He represents good continuity. We're pretty clear on what his views are."
Powell is seen as less hawkish than Stanford economist John Taylor and former Fed Governor Kevin Warsh, two other candidates who had previously been seen as front-runners. That means he would not be expected to raise interest rates as aggressively as they might.
While Trump may have leaned toward Warsh for instance, for his focus on deregulation, Powell is not expected to veer that much from the current Fed. "He isn't as laissez faire as Kevin Warsh would have been," said Simons.
Market strategists say Powell was least likely after Yellen to rock markets, which are accustomed to a slow path toward higher interest rates. Powell may be slightly more hawkish than Yellen, but not much.
"I also think he would have a relatively easy time getting through the approval process," said Simons. Powell is seen as the safe choice.