Powell says Fed can be patient as U.S. economy evolves in 2019

U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell arrives at a luncheon discussion hosted by the Economic Club in Washington, U.S., January 10, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Young

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on Thursday the U.S. central bank has the ability to be patient on monetary policy given stable price measures, and he downplayed predictions from policymakers suggesting interest rates would be raised twice more this year.

“Especially with inflation low and under control we have the ability to be patient and watch patiently and carefully as we … figure out which of these two narratives is going to be the story of 2019,” he said of good momentum in economic data and, on the other hand, concerns in financial markets over risks.

“There is no such plan,” Powell added when asked at the Economic Club of Washington about December forecasts from Fed policymakers showing they expect a median of two more rate hikes in 2019, after four last year. “That was conditional on a very strong outlook for 2019, an outlook that may still happen,” he added.

Reporting by Howard Schneider and Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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