Tuesday, 19 November, 2019

Fed opens door to rate cut amid growing 'uncertainties'

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the press as he departs the White House U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the press as he departs the White House
Russell Knight | 20 June, 2019, 05:39

The Fed, which held rates steady after the end of its latest two-day policy meeting, dropped a promise to be "patient" in adjusting rates and said it "will act as appropriate to sustain" a almost 10-year economic expansion.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told reporters during his FOMC press conference today that the central bank has spoken to Facebook about Libra.

But the Fed said "uncertainties" about the economic outlook had increased, signalling there may be rate rises to come in the near future.

Though the baseline outlook remains "favourable", Powell said, risks continue to rise, including the drag that rising trade tensions may have on United States business investment and signs that economic growth is slowing overseas.

Powell noted that several members of the Fed's rate-setting committee wanted to cut rates this month, but the majority preferred a wait-and-see approach.

The Fed on Wednesday said it was ready to battle growing global and domestic economic risks with interest rate cuts beginning as early as next month.

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The Fed expects the economy to expand 2.1% this year, a forecast that remains unchanged since its March meeting and is well short of the 2.9% rate of growth seen in 2018.

Traders work below a screen showing the Fed rate will remain unchanged on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, US.

But it still represented a significant shifting of views on the Fed. Only one policymaker continues to see a rate hike as likely in 2019.

The current Federal funds rate is set in a range between 2.25% and 2.5%. The 10-year Treasury note yield was down 1 basis point at just shy of 2.05%. The drop in inflation, however, was a blow for a central bank hoping to reach its target sometime next year.

Wages are rising, he said, "but not at a pace that would provide much upward impetus" to inflation. Trump wants the Fed to keep interest rates low; on Wednesday, policymakers voted nearly unanimously to keep interest rates steady, but remained split about future rate movement.

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