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All you need to know about yesterday's FOMC meeting

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Yesterday's FOMC meeting concluded with a decision to keep the monetary policy unchanged, leaving the federal funds rate at 5.25% to 5.5%. During the subsequent press conference, Jerome Powell outlined the solid state of the economy alongside heightened inflationary pressures. Notably, he disclosed plans to commence with the reduction in quantitative tightening starting from June 2024; per the statement, the cap on Treasury redemptions will be lowered to $25 billion per month from the current $60 billion per month. Market sentiment reacted positively to this news, with indices soaring during the chairman's address. However, a more hawkish tone regarding rate cuts was seemingly ignored at first when Jerome Powell admitted a lack of progress in taming inflation over the past few months, requiring the central bank to keep interest rates steady for longer; though, the chairman was swift to deny any prospects of future interest rate hikes. 

 

Important statements from Jerome Powell

“The economy has made considerable progress toward our dual mandate objectives.  Inflation has eased substantially over the past year while the labor market has remained strong and that’s very good news.  But inflation is still too high, further progress in bringing it down is not assured, and the path forward is uncertain.  We are fully committed to returning inflation to our 2 percent goal.”

 

“Our restrictive stance of monetary policy has been putting downward pressure on economic activity and inflation, and the risks to achieving our employment and inflation goals have moved toward better balance over the past year.  However, in recent months inflation has shown a lack of further progress toward our 2 percent objective, and we remain highly attentive to inflation risks.”

 

“The labor market remains relatively tight, but supply and demand conditions have come into better balance.  Payroll job gains averaged 276 thousand jobs per month in the first quarter, while the unemployment rate remains low at 3.8 percent.”

 

“Inflation has eased notably over the past year but remains above our longer-run goal of 2 percent.  Total PCE prices rose 2.7 percent over the 12 months ending in March; excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core PCE prices rose 2.8 percent.  The inflation data received so far this year have been higher than expected.”

 

“We have stated that we do not expect it will be appropriate to reduce the target range for the federal funds rate until we have gained greater confidence that inflation is moving sustainably toward 2 percent.  So far this year, the data have not given us that greater confidence. In particular, and as I noted earlier, readings on inflation have come in above expectations.“

 

“We are prepared to maintain the current target range for the federal funds rate for as long as appropriate. We are also prepared to respond to an unexpected weakening in the labor market.”

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