January 9, 2019

Fed indicates it will slow down rate hikes in 2019

The Federal Reserve sent a clear signal in minutes released Wednesday that policymakers won't be moving quickly to raise rates in 2019.

Minutes of the US central bank's last meeting in December showed that policymakers judged that "the appropriate extent and timing of future policy firming [is] less clear than earlier," amid a host of economic uncertainties.

The US central bank is facing an increasingly uncertain economic outlook in 2019.

While the US economy continues to remain healthy, producing one of the strongest months of job gains in the last decade in December as employers added 312,000 jobs.

The Fed is also wrestling with signs of weakening global growth in Europe and China and a sharp decline in stock prices.

At its final meeting in 2018, the central bank noted there were a number of headwinds that could pose downside risks to the US economy in the new year, including a sharper-than-expected slowdown in global economic growth, a more rapid waning of fiscal stimulus, an escalation in trade tensions and a greater-than-expected negative effect of rising interest rates.

While Fed officials repeated their credo that the path of interest rates aren't on a "preset course," they notably added that "neither the pace nor the ultimate endpoint of future rate increases was known."

The Fed has so far penciled in two rate hikes in 2019, but Chairman Jerome Powell said in remarks in Atlanta last Friday that the central bank is ready to change course "significantly if necessary."

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