Powell to Trump: Now it's your turn


The US Federal Reserve has cut its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point for the second time this year, while saying it is prepared to continue doing what it deems necessary to sustain the US economic expansion.

However, in a sign of ongoing divisions within the Fed, seven of 17 policymakers projected one more quarter-point rate cut in 2019.

The economy appears durable in its 11th year of growth, with a still-solid job market and steady consumer spending.

Brexit, the US trade war with China, and the attack on a Saudi oil facility this week are all injecting uncertainty into global markets, causing residual instability. "You see it in weak business investment, weak exports", Powell told reporters, stressing the Fed will "will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion".

Trump has become a frequent critic of the Fed, arguing that they have kept monetary policy too tight at a time when central banks around the world are cutting rates and the USA dollar is appreciating against most foreign currencies.

In a buck-stops-over-there-now performance, Powell indicated that the Fed's two rate cuts this year are likely adequate as insurance against the rising global risks posed by Trump's whipsaw trade negotiations with China, and that going forward the Fed sees little need to move unless those risks materialize in the form of weaker US economic data.

Three Fed officials dissented from the Fed's decision.

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In recent days, parts of the financial markets have also shown signs of a cash-crunch, temporarily pushing short-term interest rates above the Fed's target and prompting the bank to intervene.

Trump wasted no time in slamming the Fed on Twitter - continuing his relentless campaign to pressure the central bank to provide additional stimulus to the economy. Because rates were reduced before the rate cut was announced, financial experts don't expect mortgage rates to drop much more. The increased import taxes he has imposed on goods from China and Europe - and the counter-tariffs other nations have applied to U.S. exports - have hurt many American companies and paralysed their plans for investment and expansion.

The Fed's action was approved on a 7-3 vote, with two officials arguing to keep rates unchanged and 1 arguing for a bigger half-point cut. The outlook becomes hazier in 2020: At least two Fed officials expect a rate hike next year.

While officials continue to believe the most likely outcome is for the economy to continue to grow and inflation to gradually increase, "uncertainties about this outlook remain", the FOMC said in a statement. "It takes time for people to process", said Lawrence Yun, the chief economist at the National Association of Realtors.

For older Americans who rely more on savings, the interest rate will mean they will have slightly less payout from their accounts, although some banks offer higher rates than others. Tariffs applied in the U.S.

In July, the Fed lowered rates for the first time in more than a decade. A resumption of trade talks and a less antagonistic tone between Washington and Beijing have supported that view.