Fed's Williams says U.S. economy strong, no signs of inflation pressure

NEW YORK, May 10 (Reuters) - The U.S. economy is strong despite global risks, and data showing tame inflation pressure are no sign that policymakers are falling short of their goals, a top Federal Reserve policymaker said on Friday.

"The strength of recent data on economic activity, the rebound of growth in China, and the reversal in the tightening of financial markets all imply that near-term risks to growth have receded somewhat," Federal Reserve Bank of New York President John Williams said in remarks prepared for delivery at an event for bankers in New York.

"In a nutshell: The economy remains on a path of healthy growth, with a very strong labor market and without the emergence of inflationary pressures. The current setting of policy positions us well to keep it that way."

The Fed has kept rates on hold this year after concerns over U.S.-China trade talks and global growth concerns shook markets late last year. Williams said the current policies make sense for now.

First-quarter U.S. economic data came in stronger than forecasters initially expected, with initial readings showing growth at a 3.2% annual level, but signs of difficulty in U.S.-China negotiations threaten new tariffs that could weigh on the economy.

"There are reasons to believe that the surge in growth won't persist through the remainder of the year," Williams said, but he still expects growth about 2.25% in 2019. "The U.S. economy is in a very good place."

Markets have been on guard for what they see as an increasing possibility that the Fed will have to respond to a weakening economy of tamer inflation pressures by cutting rates. Williams showed no signs of endorsing that view, saying that "so far, the recent downward movement appears mostly to reflect normal volatility in inflation statistics."

U.S. consumer prices rose moderately in April and underlying inflation remained muted, the Labor Department said on Friday. President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly criticized the Fed for raising rates last year, said on Twitter that Friday's data were further evidence of "very low inflation." (Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in New York Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)