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Powell 'Carefully Considering' More Frequent Press Conferences

US Federal Reserve nudges up interest rates again, expects more to come

Investors are expecting another quarter-point increase in interest rates Wednesday afternoon as the Federal Reserve's policymaking committee winds up its first two-day meeting under new Fed Chairman Jerome Powell.

But U.S. wage growth has remained sluggish and household budgets are tight.

But among Fed officials meeting in Washington Tuesday and Wednesday, Powell says, "There's no thought that changes in trade policy should have any effect on the current outlook". More aggressive rate increases would likely slow the economy and make stocks less appealing.

The U.S. central bank is also holding to the outlook it gave in December that it will boost rates three times in total this year.

But because inflation has run below the Fed's target since they formally adopted it in 2012, markets don't have a good read on how policy makers would chart interest rate policy when inflation is above the target.

If two or three members around the Fed table think that recent tax cuts and deregulation could boost the supply-side of the economy and stoke investment and productivity, it could push the long-run dot higher. The median member again saw the rate ending 2018 in a range between 2% and 2.25%, suggesting two more hikes this year.

"I think they will end up tightening four times this year, but they dont have to signal that yet", said Jim OSullivan, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics.

But there's also a silver lining for savers: Because interest rates have been low for years, it's been tough to gain much extra ground in the form of interest when stashing away cash in savings accounts.

The unanimous decision on Wednesday's rate hike signals to Wall Street that Powell, for the time being, will stick with his precedessor Janet Yellen's plans for gradual rate increases.

Johnson: 'overwhelmingly likely' that Putin ordered spy nerve attack
Their joint statement said there was "no plausible alternative explanation" to Russian Federation being to blame for the attack. Meanwhile new tensions have surfaced over the death this week of a London-based Russian businessman, Nikolai Glushkov .

"The economic outlook has strengthened in recent months", the United States central bank said in a statement which followed its two-day meeting.

The rate the Fed controls - called the federal funds rate - will now hover between 1.5 and 1.75 percent, far below the 5.25 percent it reached before the financial crisis. On the other hand, modest wage pressures despite an extended period of low unemployment could persuade the Fed to lower its estimate of the sustainable jobless rate.

The Fed now expects the economy to expand 2.7 percent in 2018 and 2.4 percent next year, instead of the previous estimates of 2.5 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively. It is the sixth increase since December 2015, when it began raising rates from rock-bottom levels.

While recent home sales and retail spending data have been on the weak side, the overall economic picture has brightened after growth accelerated to 2.3 percent a year ago.

In the immediate aftermath of the rate announcement, stock indices in the US moved higher.

A better-than-forecast acceleration in United Kingdom average weekly earnings encouraged the Pound to US Dollar (GBP/USD) exchange rate to extend its uptrend further.

The Fed's goal is to keep supply and demand in balance in the economy amid a tight labor market, without lifting borrowing costs so quickly that the economy stalls. At 2:08 pm, the dollar was a bit weaker, bond yields were virtually unchanged (slightly higher for the 10-year and slightly lower for the 30-year), and stock prices were strongly higher (with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 200 points, led by financials). In recent years, the Fed's interest rate hikes have coincided with meetings that include a press conference with the Fed chair.

"There's no sense in the data that we're on the cusp of an acceleration in inflation", he said.

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