Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell pledged that the central bank will be watching how the economy performs this year and will adjust policy should growth slow unexpectedly.
Financial markets have been in turmoil over the past several months, in part over concern whether the Fed was on an aggressive rate-hiking path. Powell himself has helped to fuel some of that speculation, and on Friday offered remarks to show that Fed policy will take into account economic conditions and be adjusted accordingly.
"As always, there is no preset path for policy," Powell said. "And particularly with muted inflation readings that we've seen coming in, we will be patient as we watch to see how the economy evolves."
The policymaking Federal Open Market Committee raised its benchmark interest rate four times in 2018 and has indicated that two more increases this year are likely. However, markets believe differently, and in fact are pricing in about a 28 percent chance of a rate cut by the end of 2019 and no chance of an increase.
The Powell Fed has come under scrutiny from the markets and intense criticism from President Donald Trump, who believes the rate hikes pose the single biggest threat to an otherwise thriving economy. Asked whether he would resign if pushed by the president, Powell said "no."