Yellen set to be named by Obama as first female Fed chairman

President Barack Obama will nominate Janet Yellen as chairman of the Federal Reserve, which would put the world’s most powerful central bank in the hands of a key architect of its unprecedented stimulus program and the first female leader in its 100-year history.

Obama will announce the nomination at 3 p.m. today in Washington, a White House official said in an e-mailed statement. Yellen, 67, would succeed Ben S. Bernanke, whose term expires on Jan. 31.

Obama turned to Yellen, vice chairman of the Fed since 2010, after the other leading candidate, former Treasury secretary and White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers, withdrew from consideration amid mounting opposition from Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee.

“She’s an excellent choice, and I believe she’ll be confirmed by a wide margin,” Charles Schumer of New York, the Senate’s No. 3 Democrat, said in a statement. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson, a South Dakota Democrat, pledged to work “to move her nomination forward in a timely manner,” saying her depth of experience is unmatched.

U.S. index futures climbed, signaling stocks may rebound from the biggest loss since August, and Treasuries rose after the announcement. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures added 0.3% as of 11:03 a.m. in London, after the U.S. benchmark gauge lost more than 2% over the past two days. Five-year Treasury yields fell two basis points.

Asian Reactions

In Asia, Koichi Hamada, an adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, welcomed Yellen’s nomination, predicted that she won’t rush to exit easing, and expressed concern that prolonged U.S. stimulus could strengthen the yen and impede Japan’s recovery. South Korea’s finance ministry said Yellen will weigh the effects on other nations of tapering bond buying.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde looks forward to a female joining the ranks of central bank governors and will “no longer feel as lonely” at some male-dominated meetings, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said.

The president’s choice followed a polarizing and unprecedented public contest for a nomination that Obama described in August as one of the most important decisions of his presidency. Yellen was the favorite in surveys of economists and had the backing of 20 members of the Senate Democratic caucus who signed a July 26 letter to Obama.

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