Fundamental Comment

Fed minutes: Interest rates to remain on hold for a while

Fed minutes: Interest rates to remain on hold for a while

The Federal Reserve's minutes for the January 30-31 meeting highlighted that interest rates would remain unchanged for a while and that the current monetary policy stance was appropriate.

Current policy stance to 'remain appropriate for a time,' the minutes said, citing that the outlook for the economy had gotten “stronger” from the previous meeting.

“They expected economic growth to continue at a moderate pace, supported by accommodative monetary and financial conditions,” according to the minutes.

Policymakers said that that some trade uncertainties had diminished recently, but uncertainties about the outlook remained, including those posed by the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Holding the line on rates “would give the Committee time for a fuller assessment of the ongoing effects on economic activity of last year’s shift to a more accommodative policy stance and would also allow policymakers to accumulate further information bearing on the economic outlook,” the minutes said.

Fed minutes cited easing of trade tensions, receding risks from Brexit and stabilizing global growth as reducing downside risks, yet agreed that threat from coronavirus 'warranted close watching'.

Regarding inflation, the post-meeting statement stressed that the Fed wanted inflation “returning to” 2% rather than “near” it as previous statements had indicated.

“Many participants stressed that, as reserves approached durably ample levels, the need for sizable Treasury bill purchases and repo operations would diminish and that such operations could be gradually scaled back or phased out,” the minutes stated.

The minutes also said the reserve level likely would retreat to $1.5 trillion around tax season but then stabilize.

As of 19:25 GMT, the U.S. dollar index traded higher for a sixth straight session at 99.59, the highest since May last year.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones added 0.5 percent, the S&P 500 index surged 0.6 percent and the Nasdaq Composite edged up 1 percent.

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