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"We will be patient as we watch to see how the economy evolves", he said.

Powell, in remarks to the American Economic Association, soothed market nerves with assurances that the central bank is sensitive to risks that worry investors and is not on a preset path of interest rate hikes.

"We wouldn't hesitate to change it and that would include the balance sheet".

Yet the unemployment rate went up to 3.9 per cent, which was highest level since July, 2018.

"Barring further tightening in financial conditions that would negatively impact economic activity, the very strong labor market picture support (s) our expectations that the Fed will keep a tightening bias in 2019 and hike rates twice next year".

Stocks have been pressured since mid-December when the Fed raised its benchmark interest rate a quarter-point while issuing a somewhat-hawkish statement despite lowering its rate hike projections from three to two.

The losses in the Japan also followed Thursday's grim Wall Street session, which saw major indices end down more than two percent after Apple slashed its revenue forecast on weak demand in China and a U.S. report showed manufacturing activity slumping to a two-year low. "We don't believe our issuance is an important part of the story", he said. Under the law that governs the Federal Reserve, a president can only remove a Fed chairman for cause. This response no doubt helped the market to recover on Friday. He also said that he would not resign if asked to do so by U.S. President Donald Trump. Wages and labour force participation both rose, signalling sustained economic strength.

"This employment report suggests the U.S. economy still has considerable forward momentum".

Volume on US exchanges was 8.68 billion shares, compared to the 9.14 billion average over the last 20 trading days. He acknowledged that recent economic reports out of China were mixed, but noted that the Chinese authorities are responding with additional stimulus.

"The markets are feeling better that the Fed is not strangling the overall economy and perhaps forcing it into a recession, and that removes a monetary policy concern that has been hanging over the market for the past few months", said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist and senior portfolio manager at SlateStone Wealth LLC.

Building on a comment by Yellen that the Fed in the past has often killed expansions by jacking up rates to fight too-high inflation, Bernanke said he didn't see anyone "hiding behind the curtain" waiting to slay the current upturn, including the central bank.

"Markets are expressing concerns about global growth in particular and trade negotiations", Powell said.

"We're listening with - sensitively to the message that markets are sending and we'll be taking those downside risks into account as we make policy going forward".

In contrast to the recession chatter recently making the rounds in financial markets, Powell delivered a positive assessment of the USA economic outlook to the American Economic Association's annual meeting.