The Federal Reserve cut interest rates on Wednesday for the third time since July, as fears mount that the global economic slowdown will begin to drag on U.S. growth.
The decision came at the conclusion of a two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, the central bank’s monetary policymaking arm.
While Wall Street had anticipated such a move, market observers dissected every sentence from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s press conference later in the afternoon for any sign that more cuts would be on the way. Powell firmly indicated that no future reductions in the rate are likely — unless conditions change.
“We see the current stance of monetary policy as likely to remain appropriate as long as incoming information about the state of the economy remains broadly consistent with our outlook,” Powell said, noting that while the current policy is “in a good place,” it is not on a preset course.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly pushed for lower rates, and has even promoted a negative rate, which is traditionally only implemented in times of severe economic distress. But despite a disappointing jobs number last month, the domestic economy remains strong. Unemployment is at a near-record low of 3.5 percent, the S&P 500 index hit a record high this week due to soaring corporate earnings, and consumer spending — which drives 75 percent of the economy — remains resilient in the face of weakening business investment and diminishing optimism.
The new federal funds rate, which determines lending rates for consumer loans such as cars and credit cards, now stands at 1.5 to 1.75 percent, a reduction of one-quarter of a percentage point.