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Bernanke repeats U.S. interest rates to stay low

Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke testifies before the House Financial Services Committee during his semi-annual report to Congress in Washington February 24, 2010. REUTERS/Richard Clement

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday that U.S. interest rates will have to stay low for a lengthy period to counter a weak job market.

The U.S. central bank chief’s prepared remarks were virtually identical to those he delivered on Wednesday to the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, but data released on Thursday underlined his point about soft job markets.

The Labor Department said initial claims for unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly last week to 496,000, a second consecutive week of rising claims.

Bernanke was also expected to face questioning about what he thinks will be necessary in a financial regulatory overhaul as the Senate moves closer toward presenting its version of a reform bill.

(Reporting by Glenn Somerville and Pedro Dacosta; Editing by Neil Stempleman)

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