Fed’s employment and inflation goals in ‘better balance,’ bank officials say

Members of the US Federal Reserve’s (Fed) rate-setting committee last month said that the bank’s employment and inflation goals were moving into “better balance,” with some calling for “patience” on interest rate cuts, minutes of the meeting published on Wednesday showed.

The US central bank has held interest rates at a two-decade high for almost a year, as it looks to bring inflation down to its long-term 2 percent target without doing too much damage to either the labor market or the broader economy.

The Fed has brought inflation back down to an annual rate below 3 percent, while economic growth has remained positive and the unemployment rate has stayed near record lows.

Photo: Reuters

Now, after years of focusing primarily on inflation, Fed officials have turned their attention increasingly to the labor market, which has shown some signs of weakness in recent months despite remaining strong overall.

Fed officials said at the rate meeting on June 11 and 12 that they were moving “toward better balance” between inflation and unemployment, the meeting’s minutes showed.

“Some participants emphasized the need for patience in allowing the committee’s restrictive policy stance to restrain aggregate demand and further moderate inflation pressures,” the minutes showed.

However, several participants also kept alive the prospect of rate hikes if inflation were to increase, suggesting the US central bank is in no hurry to start the process of cutting its key lending rate.

“We’ve made quite a bit of progress in bringing inflation back down to our target, while the labor market has remained strong and growth has continued,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said during an event in Portugal on Tuesday.

“We want that process to continue,” Powell added.

At last month’s interest rate decision, the Fed penciled in just one rate cut for this year and said it does not expect inflation to reach 2 percent until 2026.

However, futures traders believe there is a more than 70 percent chance that the US central bank would start cutting interest rates by mid-September, and see it as much more likely than not that it would make a second cut by the end of the year, CME Group data showed.

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Fed’s employment and inflation goals in ‘better balance,’ bank officials say:

Members of the U…