Spot gold prices hit an eight-month low of $1,142.10 on the expectations for a 2015 Fed rate hike. Those affect saving, investment, exports and other components of the economy.

Yellen’s appearance Wednesday will be followed by testimony Thursday before the Senate Banking Committee.

The United States central bank has kept markets on edge for a raise in the federal funds rate, which has been locked extraordinarily at zero since the end of 2008 to pull the economy back from the Great Recession.

WASHINGTON • US Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen said prospects are good for further improvement in the labour market and the economy, keeping the central bank on track for an interest-rate increase this year. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi was set to hold a press conference shortly after the rate decision.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, rallied to a more than seven-week high of 97.756 on expectations that the Fed will hike rates this year.

Foreign demand for US Treasuries, which helped push down mortgage rates last week, declined as concerns that Greece would leave the euro area lessened, Mr Gumbinger said.

Money managers don’t expect bond yields to rise significantly, citing the moderate pace of economic growth, contained inflation threats and Fed officials’ signals of plans to be gradual in raising rates.

According to Yellen, the Greek debt crisis, as well as China’s recent economic woes, “pose some risks” to USA growth.

Underscoring the bleak outlook, the Bank of Canada cut interest rates for a second time this year on Wednesday.

The moves triggered criticism that the Fed has become too powerful, and is too secretive and unaccountable.

Lee, in a note to clients, says the Fed may be missing the point.

Mr. Hensarling said the Fed had “crossed the line” by failing to comply with a subpoena for documents. In the intervening months some lawmakers have expressed frustration over the fact that the Fed has not released all of the material Congress has requested as part of an investigation of the possible leak of information from the central bank to an economic consulting company in 2012.

Yellen said that she planned to turn over all the documents that have been requested once the investigations by the Department of Justice and the Fed’s inspector general are completed.

“The Fed’s clamor for independence is its underpinning for circumventing any sort of congressional accountability”, Representative Sean Duffy, Republican of Wisconsin, said at a Tuesday hearing on Fed transparency.