Janet Yellen, vice chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, is under consideration to become the first woman to lead the Fed. President Obama reportedly is likely to choose between Yellen and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers. Franck Robichon/EPA/Landov hide caption

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Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday that a fall in the unemployment rate would not automatically trigger a rise in interest rates. He spoke to the media after the central bank issued a policy update. Susan Walsh/AP hide caption

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Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke during his Capitol Hill testimony Wednesday before the Joint Economic Committee. Alex Wong/Getty Images hide caption

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The Federal Reserve's headquarters in Washington, D.C. What goes on inside there is of intense interest to investors. Karen Bleier /AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Shoppers at a Target store in Westbury, N.Y., last week. Consumer spending drives the economy. And the holiday shopping season is crucial for retailers. Shannon Stapleton /Reuters /Landov hide caption

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