Fed's Powell: Rising inflation could delay rate cuts this year

InvestingMay 13, 2024

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell cautioned Tuesday that persistently elevated inflation will likely delay any Fed interest rate cuts until later this year, opening the door to a period of higher-for-longer rates.

“Recent data have clearly not given us greater confidence” that inflation is coming fully under control and “instead indicate that it’s likely to take longer than expected to achieve that confidence,” Powell said during a panel discussion at the Wilson Center.

“If higher inflation does persist,” he said, “we can maintain the current level of (interest rates) for as long as needed.”

The Fed chair’s comments suggested that without further evidence that inflation is falling, the central bank may carry out fewer than the three quarter-point reductions its officials had forecast during their most recent meeting in March.

His remarks Tuesday represented a shift for Powell, who on March 7 had told a Senate committee that the Fed was “not far” from gaining the confidence it needed to cut rates. At a news conference on March 20, Powell appeared to downplay that assertion. But his comments Tuesday went further in dimming the likelihood of any rate cuts in the coming months.

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