Bernanke to skip US Fed conference in August

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Speculation is intensifying that this year will be Ben Bernanke's last as Federal Reserve chairman.

The Fed chief himself is stirring the speculation with his decision to skip the Fed's annual August conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Jackson Hole has long been a high-profile platform for speeches by Fed chairmen. Since taking over the Fed in 2006, Bernanke has been the marquee speaker each year. In 2010, he used his speech to signal that the Fed could launch another bond-buying program. Stock prices jumped in response to his remarks.

His second four-year term will end in January, and neither he nor President Barack Obama has signaled whether Bernanke will serve a third term.

A Fed spokesman says Bernanke won't be attending the Jackson Hole retreat because of a "personal scheduling conflict."

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