Janet Yellen has been appointed head of the Federal Reserve by a vote in the US Senate that she won by a comfortable margin.

The Democratically controlled Senate widely endorsed Yellen, who was nominated by President Barack Obama. She is the first woman to lead the Fed in its history.

The numbers for Yellen were strong: 56 senators voted for her nomination, while 26 voted against her.

Six Republicans voted for Yellen; those who voted against her included Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Rand Paul of Kentucky, who unsuccessfully pushed for Yellen's confirmation to be delayed while he called for an audit of the Fed.

She will become the first Democrat to run the Fed since Paul Volker was pointed by Jimmy Carter in 1979.

A distinguished academic economist by training that made the transition to public servant and seasoned central banker, Yellen was tipped to be the favourite to succeed Bernanke by many analysts.

Her chances only increased after her main rival for the post, economist Larry Summers, withdrew himself from the contest after a bout of intense media scrutiny that questioned his credentials.

Obama nominated Yellen in October 2013 and she was later approved by a senate banking panel by 14 votes to eight.

Yellen has indicated that in her public statements that she is as concerned about the rate of unemployment in the US economy, alongside the dangers of high inflation.

The Fed has started winding down its monthly asset purchase programme from $85bn to $75bn in December.