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“The investigation into the commodity index-fund investments is going to reduce buying interest,” said Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities Inc. “Commodities have been dominated by increased index-fund buying that might be at risk.”

Lawrence Kudlow of Kudlow & Co. said Mr. Bernanke’s speech marked a “major policy shift” on the troubling decline of the dollar, which many oil exporters as well as commodities traders have used as an excuse to drive up prices.

“The Fed chief has finally figured out that the weak dollar is driving up inflation” and is “putting a floor under the dollar,” he said.

Because the Treasury rather than the Fed is the primary defender of the dollar, Mr. Kudlow said, he expects Mr. Bernanke got “a sign-off” from Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. before making the speech. Mr. Paulson spoke in defense of the dollar at a weekend meeting with Persian Gulf oil states.

Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital Inc., scoffed at the idea of the Fed raising interest rates to defend the dollar at a time when the economy is weak and in danger of recession. He said the Fed’s bark is worse than its bite.

“The market now seems convinced that the cavalry is on the way, and the dollar will turn around,” but “Ben Bernanke has no stomach for such tough love,” he said.