Tuesday, 17 September, 2019

Fed sees case building for interest rate cuts this year

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Russell Knight | 20 June, 2019, 02:21

Even as the USA central bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged for now, the shift in sentiment since its last policy meeting was marked.

Business investment is slowing, uncertainty has increased, and the USA economy is growing at a "moderate" pace, the Fed said Wednesday, a notable downgrade from last month when the central bank characterized the economy as "solid".

Powell also noted that "we don't have plenary authority over cryptocurrencies" when asked if the Fed would directly oversee Libra, but he highlighted the Fed's role in worldwide regulatory groups, suggesting that the USA central bank would likely have input in any regulations that take shape in the wake of Facebook's Libra debut.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell holds a news conference following a two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting in Washington, U.S., June 19, 2019.

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Traders have piled on bets the Fed would lower interest rates multiple times by year-end as trade tensions between the United States, China and other trading partners have exacerbated a softening in global business activities.

So we did not even need to hear from Federal Chairman Powell to understand how dovish the central bank has become over the past 3 months because the dot plot alone speaks volumes about how dramatically sentiment inside the Fed changed.

"We will act as needed, including promptly if that's appropriate, and use our tools to sustain the expansion", he said, adding that if the Fed does ease monetary policy by cutting rates, it may also halt a gradual slimming of its massive balance sheet.

"I think the big surprise was how many folks moved into the cut camp on the Fed side". The central bank kept rates unchanged. Lowering that rate can help stimulate the economy as well as increase inflation, which remains shy of the Fed's target of 2% a year. Back in March 2 members favored a rate hike in 2019 and 11 favored no change.

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