The Latest: Powell says Fed facing “difficult judgments”
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy meeting (all times local):
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell acknowledges that officials at the U.S. central bank are fractured about next steps on interest rates.
Forecasts from the Fed show uncertainty about the course of rates after Wednesday’s rate cut. The uncertainty stems from President Donald Trump’s pursuit of tariffs against China and a broader global slowdown that has irked businesses and manufacturers though consumer spending has been relatively solid.
“This is a time of difficult judgments and disparate perspectives,” Powell says at a news conference. “I really do think that is nothing but healthy.”
President Donald Trump blasted the Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell as a “terrible communicator,” after the U.S. central bank’s rate cut was less generous than what Trump wanted.
“Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve Fail Again,” the president tweeted after the Fed reduced its federal funds rate by 0.25 points. “No ‘guts,’ no sense, no vision!”
The president has wanted the federal funds rate to be near-zero, rather than the range of 1.75% to 2% set by the Fed. Trump has remarked that other countries such as Germany have an advantage because their interest rates are negative, even though negative rates are a sign that those economies are in a recession and may struggle to grow in the longer term.
Stocks are dropping after the Federal Reserve cuts its benchmark interest rate for a second time this year and didn’t provide investors with concrete clues about what the future holds.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average went from a loss of 58 points just before the cut was announced to a loss of 166 points at 2:25 p.m.
The market expected the quarter-point cut to the federal funds rate, which influences many consumer and business loans. But three of the 10 voting officials dissented from the decision, and the Fed looks divided on what to do next. That ambiguity may have displeased investors on Wall Street.
The S&P 500 was down 0.7% to 2,985. Even with the decline, the benchmark index remains within 1.5% of its all-time high set in July.
Federal Reserve officials are divided on the future path for their benchmark interest rate.
After cutting rates for the second time this year on Wednesday, forecasts show that seven out of 17 officials favor an additional rate cut this year that would put the federal funds rate at a range of 1.5% to 1.75%. But the outlook becomes hazier in 2020 as at least two officials expect a rate hike.
No one anticipates rates to fall below 1.5% in 2020, a sign that the current turbulence from a global slowdown and President Donald Trump’s escalation of the trade war with China is viewed as manageable.
The officials’ forecast for the U.S. economy barely changed from the previous predictions in June. The economy is expected at the median to grow 2.2% this year, up from the earlier forecast of 2.1%. Unemployment is projected to be 3.7%, slightly higher than the 3.6% rate in the previous forecast. Inflation is anticipated to be 1.5%, which is below the U.S. central bank’s target of 2%.
The Federal Reserve is cutting rates for a second time this year while saying it’s prepared to continue doing what it deems necessary to sustain the U.S. economic expansion.
The Fed’s move will reduce its benchmark rate by an additional quarter-point to a range of 1.75% to 2%. The Fed’s key rate influences many consumer and business loans.
The economy appears durable in its 11th year of growth, with a still-solid job market and steady consumer spending. But the Fed is trying to combat threats including uncertainties caused by President Donald Trump’s trade war with China, slower global growth and a slump in American manufacturing. The Fed notes in its statement that “business fixed investment and exports have weakened.”
Still, the Fed’s move will likely displease Trump, who has attacked the Fed and insisted that it slash rates more aggressively.
The Fed’s action was approved on a 7-3 vote, with two officials arguing to keep rates unchanged and 1 arguing for a bigger half-point cut. It was the largest number of Fed dissents in three years.
For the second time in as many days, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is stepping in to free up billions of dollars to avert spiking overnight borrowing costs.
The New York Fed on Tuesday infused that market with more than $53 billion as overnight borrowing costs surged close to 10%. It was the first time such an action was taken since 2008.
The New York Fed has bumped that figure up to $75 billion for Wednesday.
Economists with Wells Fargo believe the logjam in intrabank lending markets is being caused by required quarterly tax payments from corporations. They need to have cash on hand to make those payments and rely on overnight lending markets for the funding.
A key date for those corporations was Sept. 15, according to Wells Fargo, which has dried up the pool of funding used by broader markets for quick cash.
Stock markets are subdued and the price of oil is down slightly as investors look ahead to an expected interest rate cut from the Federal Reserve and monitor the fallout from attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil plants.
Futures for the Dow and the S&P 500 are down 0.1% while markets in Asia closed little changed - the Nikkei 225 dropped 0.2% and the Hang Seng slipped 0.1%. European stocks are up slightly, with Germany’s DAX 0.1% higher.
The Fed is poised to cut its key rate for a second time Wednesday by a quarter point to help the economy at a time of heightened trade uncertainty and slowing global growth. Most economists expect one or two more rate cuts this year beginning this week.
The U.S. benchmark for crude oil is down 29 cents at $59.05 a barrel after Saudi authorities said 50% of the production cut by the attack on its oil processing plant has been restored.
The Federal Reserve looks poised to cut interest rates for a second time Wednesday to help extend the economic expansion in the face of global weakness, President Donald Trump’s trade war with China and geopolitical risks such as the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.
The modest rate cut the Fed announced in July — its first in more than a decade — left its benchmark rate in a range of 2% to 2.25%. It also raised expectations that it would follow with up to three additional quarter-point rate cuts this year.
Most economists have since scaled back their forecasts for further rate cuts this year to one or two beginning Wednesday. A resumption of trade talks and a less antagonistic tone between Washington and Beijing have supported that view.