By MARTIN CRUTSINGERWASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen appears unruffled by incoming President Donald Trump's victory last week. Her remarks to Congress Thursday suggest that the central bank is on track to raise interest rates at its meeting in December, one month before Trumps takes office. She said she has no plans to step down before her four-year term ends in early 2018, reiterated the Fed's political independence and vigorously defended tougher bank regulations established in the wake of the financial crisis. An improving U.S. economy has bolstered the case for raising interest rates, Yellen told Congress' Joint Economic Committee. Economic data since Fed policymakers gathered in early November reinforced her view that the economy is making progress toward the Fed's goals on employment and inflation. She said that at the meeting, she and her colleagues believed that the case for a rate increase "had continued to strengthen and that such an increase could well become appropriate relatively soon." Analysts viewed Yellen's comments as an effort to put financial markets on notice that a rate hike is likely to occur at the Fed's last meeting of the year on Dec. 13-14. They noted that she dismissed a suggestion that increased market uncertainty after Trump's election might be cause for a delay. Asked whether it might be better to push back a move until January, Yellen said that uncertainty surrounding Trump's proposals for tax cuts and infrastructure spending could well last for a good deal longer than one month. "Yellen's testimony before Congress ... further cemented in place expectations that the Fed will hike rates next month," said Michael Feroli, senior economist at JPMorgan. Asked about her own future, Yellen said it was "fully my intention" to remain as Fed chair until her four-year term ends on Feb. 3, 2018. She said she could not imagine any circumstance that would cause her to leave early, addressing speculation that she might step down once Trump takes office, given his critical comments of her during the election campaign.