Fed chair Janet Yellen: Rate hike marks 'end of an extraordinary 7-year period'
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen speaks during a press conference following the announcement of an historic rate increase, in Washington, DC on December 16, 2015 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Wednesday the Fed's first rate increase since 2006 marks the "end of an extraordinary seven-year period" of easy-money policy begun in the Great Recession.

But Yellen stressed that it was "important not to overblow the significance" of the quarter-point rate increase, saying Fed policy will remain accommodative over the medium term.