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Some Fed officials believe the case for a rate cut is strengthening

Key Points
  • He says policymakers are concerned about some of the recent economic developments and see a growing case for easier policy.
  • Among those concerns are slowing global growth, inflation that persistently falls short of the Fed's 2% target, and the ramifications of tariffs the U.S. and its trading partners, particularly China, have levied on each other.
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Powell: Mindful of risks to outlook and prepared to move

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday some officials believe the case has strengthened for interest rate cuts ahead.

Speaking to the media after this week's central bank meeting, Powell said policymakers are concerned about some of the recent economic developments and see a growing case for easier policy.

"Overall, our policy discussion focused on the appropriate response to the uncertain environment," he said. "Many participants believe that some cut to the fed funds rate would be appropriate in the scenario they see as most likely."

Among those concerns are slowing global growth, inflation that persistently falls short of the Fed's 2% target, and the ramifications of tariffs the U.S. and its trading partners, particularly China, have levied on each other.

The comments came after a meeting in which the Federal Open Market Committee opted to keep its benchmark interest rate unchanged but signaled possible cuts ahead amid a weakening economic environment.

"Many participants now see the case for somewhat more accommodative policy has strengthened," Powell said.

The decision to hold the line was 9-1, but a dot plot chart of individual members' expectations for rates showed division about where rates go through the remainder of 2019.

The median "dot" indicated no change in rates this year, but the full chart showed eight members in favor of staying put, eight expecting to cut and one projecting a quarter-point increase.

Powell said even those members who favored the status quo "agree the conditions for accommodation have strengthened since our May meeting."