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giftedviz.com January 19, 2019


Wall St rallies for 5th day after Fed chair Jerome Powell’s comments

11 January 2019, 02:27 | Austin Hogan

US official warns of recession risk if interest rates go much higher

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The US economy could take a clear hit from the government shutdown if it continues for a long time, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on Thursday (Jan 10).

Powell also repeated his comments that attacks by President Donald Trump on the Fed's rate hike policies were not having an impact on Fed decisions, which he said were aimed at achieving the Fed's two goals of maximum employment and stable prices.

That prospect has cheered markets, which had grown anxious that the Fed was not taking into account a variety of headwinds that could slow US growth this year.

In that appearance Powell emphasized the Fed's flexibility and patience in evaluating data, easing expectations of steady rate hikes in a message amplified by a half dozen other Fed officials in recent days.

Powell's second appearance in less than a week generated a subdued response in financial markets, a sign he may have found his footing in how to describe central bank policy without surprising investors. Stocks, which closed in the green Thursday, briefly dipped into the red after Powell pointed to more monetary tightening ahead, including continuing to shrink the Fed's $4 trillion balance sheet.

Powell's comments on Fed patience were similar to the message in the minutes of the Fed's December meeting as well as the comments of other Fed officials this week. He said the Fed's aim was to return the balance sheet to a "more normal level" but didn't specify what that level will be. Big picture: "they don't have that much further to go and they don't have to go there fast", said Robert Tipp, chief investment strategist with PGIM Fixed Income in Newark, New Jersey.

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The US central bank raised rates four times a year ago in the face of robust economic growth and unemployment that touched its lowest level in half a century.

While there is wide agreement that the United States economy will grow more slowly than the roughly 3 per cent rate of 2018, there's a lot of debate about how fast the slowdown will be.

Since then, stock markets endured a topsy-turvy end to the year as the US government shut down and global trade tensions ratcheted higher. If conditions weaken, the Fed would react. "The principal worry we have is global growth" in Asia, Europe and elsewhere.

The Fed chair also said the slowdown in China specifically "is a concern, is something we're watching".

"I would expect them to repeat that the economy is strong", Scotiabank economist Derek Holt said.



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