US economy

Fed Points to Coming Rate Cut in Its June Meeting Minutes

WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve officials thought an interest-rate cut could be warranted “in the near term” amid slowing global growth and continuing trade wars, minutes from the Fed’s June meeting show.

That statement is likely to cement expectations for a rate cut this month.

“Participants widely noted that the global developments that led to the heightened uncertainties about the economic outlook were quite recent,” based on minutes of the Fed’s June 18 to 19 meeting released Wednesday. “Many judged additional monetary policy accommodation would be warranted in the near term should these recent developments prove to be sustained and continue to weigh on the economic outlook.”

Fed watchers will probably read the minutes as further confirmation that officials are teeing up a rate cut in July, a prospect that has pushed stock prices to new highs even as President Trump’s trade war with China and slowing global growth threaten domestic economic growth.

Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, stoked expectations for a move during his testimony before House lawmakers earlier on Wednesday.

Since the Fed’s meeting, “it appears that uncertainties around trade tensions and concerns about the strength of the global economy continue to weigh on the U.S. economic outlook,” Mr. Powell said in prepared remarks.

Several participants at the Fed’s meeting believed that cutting rates sooner rather than later could “help cushion the effects of possible future adverse shocks to the economy.”

Several said they saw less upward pressure on inflation from tight labor markets than they had expected, and a few were concerned that inflation expectations had already sunk too low, the minutes show.

Inflation has been mired below the Fed’s 2 percent goal for years, and climbed just 1.5 percent in the year through May. Weak price increases are bad in part because they raise the chances of growth-harming deflation.

Still, the case for a cut did not go unchallenged. A few participants were worried that easing interest rates in an effort to push inflation slightly higher “risked overheating the labor markets and fueling financial imbalances.”

Investors have fully priced in a 0.25 percentage point reduction in borrowing costs at the Fed’s July 30 and 31 meeting, and some expect an even deeper adjustment. Mr. Powell was asked about the possibility of a 0.50 percentage point reduction on Wednesday, and neither endorsed the idea nor ruled it out.


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