Fed Minutes Show Central Bank Ready to Hike But Concerned About Trade

Federal Reserve officials teed up a December rate hike at their most recent meeting, but not without misgivings about how trade tensions and corporate debt could impact growth.

Minutes released Wednesday from the Nov. 7-8 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, which sets interest rates, pointed toward the strong likelihood of another quarter-point adjustment in the central bank’s benchmark rate target next month.

That’s in line with market thinking despite the recent volatility.

“Consistent with their judgment that a gradual approach to policy normalization remained appropriate, almost all participants expressed the view that another increase in the target range for the federal funds rate was likely to be warranted fairly soon if incoming information on the labor market and inflation was in line with or stronger than their current expectations,” the minutes stated.

However, the meeting summary also noted some concern about the “timing” of rate hikes. Current projections indicate that in addition to the December move, the FOMC is likely to approve three more hikes in 2019.

Moreover, officials indicated that further post-meeting statements might be altered to remove the reference to “further gradual increases” in the target range as long as current conditions persist. The reason for doing that is to stress that the committee is not on a preset course with rates and instead will be evaluating future decisions based on incoming economic data.

“Such a change would help to convey the Committee’s flexible approach in responding to changing economic circumstances,” the minutes said.

via CNBC

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Alfonso Esparza

Alfonso Esparza

Senior Currency Analyst at Market Pulse
Alfonso Esparza specializes in macro forex strategies for North American and major currency pairs. Upon joining OANDA in 2007, Alfonso Esparza established the MarketPulseFX blog and he has since written extensively about central banks and global economic and political trends. Alfonso has also worked as a professional currency trader focused on North America and emerging markets. He has been published by The MarketWatch, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and The Globe and Mail, and he also appears regularly as a guest commentator on networks including Bloomberg and BNN. He holds a finance degree from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM) and an MBA with a specialization on financial engineering and marketing from the University of Toronto.
Alfonso Esparza