Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, pledging to strike a balance between the risk of an overheating economy and the need to keep growth on track, told U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday that the central bank would stick with gradual interest rate increases despite the added stimulus of tax cuts and government spending.
United States Federal Reserve officials grew more positive on the economic outlook, citing “substantial underlying economic momentum,” and were increasingly optimistic about achieving their inflation target, according to minutes of last month’s policy meeting.
Inflation pressures appear to be building in the U.S. economy, a prospect that is heightening anxiety about potentially higher borrowing rates that could slow economic growth. The latest source of concern was a report on Wednesday that showed a key measure of inflation rising in January by the sharpest rate in a year. The increase was led by higher prices for clothing, housing and auto insurance.
President Trump declared America “open for business” in a speech on Friday to global to political and business elites in Davos, Switzerland, while taking a hard line on trade and vowing to make commerce with other countries “fair and reciprocal.”
US economic growth slowed unexpectedly to an annualised rate of 2.6% in the last three months of 2017, the Commerce Department said on Friday. Economists had expected the rate to be 3% - the same as the three months to September.
A stronger US economy lifted American household incomes in 2016 and drove the poverty rate down to the level seen before the financial crisis. The median household income increased by 3.2% to US$59,039, rising for a second consecutive year as more people found full time jobs.
The US Federal Reserve has increased interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point - the third rate hike this year. It comes as Fed chair Janet Yellen prepares to leave the role
after Donald Trump decided to replace her.
The Federal Reserve has started to run down some of the investments it made to boost the US economy after the financial crisis. The Fed holds a US$4.2trn portfolio of US Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities, and it will initially cut up to US$10bn each month from the amount it reinvests.
The United States economy added a solid 209,000 jobs in July, exceeding economists’ estimates as the labor market shows few signs of slowing down. The unemployment rate last month fell to 4.3% from 4.4%, the Labor Department reported on Friday.
The United States economy gathered speed in the second quarter of the year, growing at an annualized pace of 2.6%. The pick-up was helped by consumer spending in the quarter expanding at a pace of 2.8%, and businesses stepping up spending on equipment.