Powell: Fed Can Be Patient As U.S. Economy Evolves In 2019

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Thursday stressed again the U.S. central bank can be patient in approving any further rate increases as officials gauge whether the U.S. economy will slow this year, as some in financial markets worry, or continue motoring ahead as the Fed itself expects.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Thursday stressed again the U.S. central bank can be patient in approving any further rate increases as officials gauge whether the U.S. economy will slow this year, as some in financial markets worry, or continue motoring ahead as the Fed itself expects.

Powell’s second appearance in less than a week generated a subdued response in financial markets, a sign he may have found his footing in how to describe central bank policy without surprising investors. Several of his recent appearances have generated large market swings in both directions.

With no sign of excessive inflation or outsized risk in financial markets, Powell said the Fed would be “waiting and watching” in coming months to see which of those two competing “narratives” plays out.

“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,” Powell said at the Economic Club of Washington.