Monday, 21 October, 2019

As Fed policymakers comb data, few decisive signals on outlook

Dollar index is in an uptrend US open: Stocks go green following jobs report, Fed's Powell in focus
Russell Knight | 07 October, 2019, 12:39

Powell made the remarks on Friday at a "Fed Listens" event at the U.S. central bank in Washington.

Federal Reserve policymakers on Friday signalled they are on high alert for signs that uncertainty over trade policy and slowing global growth are beginning to hold back the broader United States economy, but so far they have flagged little in the data that is pointing one way or the other.

In addition to a historically low unemployment rate, it also emerged that job growth slowed and that the average hourly wage remained the same.

Fed policymakers next meet on October 29-30, and financial markets are pricing in a third 2019 rate cut for that meeting.

There is disagreement within the Fed's interest rate setting committee on whether there is a need to further lower borrowing costs.

"Our job is to keep it there as long as possible", Mr. Powell said in opening remarks set for delivery Friday at a conference at the central bank's headquarters in Washington.

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Interest rates and inflation that are too low could leave the Fed with less ability to deal with the next economic downturn, Powell said. But they also pared bets on a fourth rate cut in 2019 that they had piled into earlier in the week after data showed factory activity was contracting and growth in the massive U.S. services sector was slowing.

Cleveland Fed president Loretta Mester, interviewed later in the day on CNBC, said that so far she was not seeing signs that weakness in manufacturing was spilling over to consumer spending, which had been strong and accounts for about 70 per cent of the USA economy.

And on Friday, new data revealed that job growth missed expectations in August, with 136,000 added versus the 145,000 expected.

"Given the mounting global growth concerns and worrisome forward-looking indicators, we believe it would have taken a much stronger number to convince Fed leadership that they have already taken out enough insurance against downside risks", JP Morgan economist Michael Feroli told investors in a note.

"The benefits (of a tight labour market) are unbelievable, and we somehow have to keep it going", he said.

'I don't have to say today, ' she said.

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