Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell acknowledged recent signs of cooling inflation but said on Thursday that the slowdown in price increases was not yet enough to establish a trend and that the central bank was “determined” on its 2- Percentage mandate will be retained.

“Inflation is still too high, and a few months of good data is just the beginning of what is needed to build confidence that inflation will fall sustainably toward our target,” Powell said in prepared remarks for his speech at the Economic Club of New York. “We cannot yet know how long these lower levels will last or where inflation will settle in the coming quarters.”

“Although the road will likely be bumpy and take time, my colleagues and I are united in our commitment to sustainably reducing inflation to 2 percent,” Powell added.

However, he also noted that progress has been made toward achieving the Fed’s two goals.

In recent days, data has shown that while inflation remains well above the target rate, the pace of monthly increases has slowed and the annual rate has fallen to 3.7% from more than 9% in June 2022.

“Data received in recent months shows continued progress toward achieving our two dual mandate goals of maximum employment and stable prices,” he said.

The speech was initially delayed by protesters from the group Climate Defiance, who stormed the podium at the club’s dinner, holding a sign that read “The Fed is Burning” surrounded by the words “Money, Future and Planet.”

Powell suggested that labor and economic growth may need to slow to ultimately meet the Fed’s goal.

“Nevertheless, the record suggests that a sustained return to our 2 percent inflation target will likely require a period of below-trend growth and further weakening in labor market conditions,” Powell said.

The comments come on the same day that initial jobless claims hit their lowest weekly level since early 2023, suggesting the labor market is still tight and could put upward pressure on inflation.

Fed officials are using interest rate hikes in part to correct an imbalance between supply and demand in the labor market. However, strong job creation in September and a slow pace of layoffs could threaten progress on inflation.

“Additional evidence of continued above-trend growth or that labor market tensions are no longer easing could jeopardize further progress on inflation and justify further tightening of monetary policy,” he said.

In recent days, other Fed officials have said they believe the Fed can be patient from here. Even some members who favor tighter monetary policy have said they believe the Fed can halt rate hikes, at least for now, while they monitor what lagged impact the hikes are likely to have on the economy.

Markets generally expect the Fed to hold off on further rate hikes, but questions remain about when officials might start cutting rates.

Powell was noncommittal about the future of politics.

Given the uncertainties and risks and the progress made so far, the Committee is proceeding cautiously. “We will make decisions about the extent of further policy tightening and how long policy will remain restrictive based on the totality of incoming data, the evolving outlook and the balance of risks,” he said.

Source : www.cnbc.com

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