Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen smiles as she testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015, before the Joint Economic Committee. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen opened a Congressional committee hearing on the U.S. economy Thursday with an upbeat assessment of where the country stands as the Fed marches toward its first interest rate hike in a decade.The Fed's first rate hike, expected to be 25 basis points, will start what is expected to be a slow cycle of policy tightening that may see rates remain below normal levels still for years to come.Yellen noted that one reason not to delay a rate hike too much longer is to avoid the need for a more abrupt sequence of increases that could be more disruptive to the economy than the gradual rate path policymakers say they prefer.
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