Ben Bernanke a Major Influence on Stock Markets Wednesday

Apr 27, 2011, 05:39 by David Hope

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's planned news conference -- a Fed first -- could roil stock, bond and commodity markets, an asset adviser said.

The Wednesday news briefing, the first for a Fed chairman since the central banking system was created 98 years ago, is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. EDT, less than 2 hours after the Fed committee that decides interest rates and U.S. money supply issues a report, which itself will follow a committee meeting, one of eight this year.

"Given that investors are highly sensitive to anything that is merely discussed during these meetings, this press event may also end up being particularly memorable for its impact on the markets," Gerring Wealth Management Director Eric Parnell said in a commentary Tuesday.

Bernanke will open the news conference, as U.S. presidents typically do, with brief remarks, followed by about 45 minutes of reporter questions. There will be no set rules on reporter follow-up questions, Fed officials said.

Possible questions include the run-up in gasoline and food prices and whether raising interest rates would slow spending and make inflation less likely.

The Fed -- created in 1913 in response to a series of U.S. financial crises, especially a severe panic in 1907, when the New York Stock Exchange fell nearly 50 percent from its 1906 peak -- was mum about its meetings for its first 80 years.

It began issuing statements when it changed interest rates in 1994 and started giving statements after its Federal Open Market Committee meetings in 1999.

Heated, widespread criticism of the Fed's response to the 2007-2010 financial crisis and the Great Recession, which continues to distress the entire world economy, forced the Fed to recognize that it is a political institution that needed to build public support, The New York Times said.

The news conference will be broadcast live on the Fed's Web site,, and archived for later viewing.

Source: UPI