US Fed: 'Can afford to be patient' on rate hikes

11 Janvier, 2019, 00:52 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • GS financial conditions index

Federal Reserve officials believe that the USA central bank should be "patient" with interest rates amid volatility in stock markets and concerns about global growth, according to minutes from their December policy meeting.

The timing is "less clear" now due to a contrast between the solid United States economic data and the fears of a possible downturn amid rising trade confrontations displayed by financial markets and expressed by businesses, according to the report.

His prepared remarks gave no hard timeline for further rate hikes but they hinted he could agree to stand pat until around mid year to see how factors like global growth and US trade and fiscal policy pan out. "It's a tightly integrated economy and financial markets will see the effects of that", he said.

The Fed raised the benchmark interest rates in December for the fourth time past year but the minutes said "a few" participants favored holding off, saying there was "latitude to wait and see".

It was yet another dovish signal from one of the members of the monetary policy committee that votes eight times a year on interest rates, and likely to reassure financial markets.

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Still, the report indicates Fed officials expect the economy to continue to grow with subdued inflation, which would make some further rate hikes necessary.

Recent developments had "made the appropriate extent and timing of future policy firming less clear than earlier", the minutes, published last night, state.

The next FOMC meeting is set for Jan 29-30.

"If the economy slowed down more than we thought, or the inflation outlook deteriorated more than I'm suggesting here, there might be grounds for a little bit lower (federal funds) rate in that scenario", Bullard said.

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