US Fed officials raised inflation concerns, but still expected rate cuts in 2024: minutes

US Fed officials raised inflation concerns, but still expected rate cuts in 2024: minutes

Fed officials raised concerns about the "broad-based" nature of a recent uptick in inflation
Fed officials raised concerns about the "broad-based" nature of a recent uptick in inflation. Photo: Mandel NGAN / AFP
Source: AFP

US Federal Reserve officials raised concerns at their March interest rate meeting about the recent "broad-based" rise in inflation, but still said they expected cuts to start this year, according to minutes of the meeting published Wednesday.

The Fed held its benchmark lending rate at a 23-year high after its March meeting, as policymakers continue their attempts to bring inflation back down firmly to the US central bank's long-term target of two percent.

Price increases have slowed significantly from their peak in 2022, but have crept higher in recent months, keeping the markets guessing about when the Fed could start cutting rates, even as other indicators of US economic strength have remained resilient.

"Some participants noted that the recent increases in inflation had been relatively broad-based and therefore should not be discounted as merely statistical aberrations," the Fed said in a statement.

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"However, a few participants noted that residual seasonality could have affected the inflation readings at the start of the year," it added.

At its most recent interest rate meeting in March, Fed policymakers penciled in three cuts for this year, suggesting they expected inflation to continue along its bumpy path back to two percent.

"Almost all participants judged that it would be appropriate to move policy to a less restrictive stance at some point this year if the economy evolved broadly as they expected," the Fed said in its minutes of the meeting.

But since the March meeting, consumer inflation has continued to accelerate, reducing the chances of an early interest rate cut from the Federal Reserve in a tense election year.

Policymakers will next gather to set interest rates later this month, with the decision announced on May 1.

Futures traders overwhelmingly expect the Fed to remain on pause in May, according to data from CME Group.

Source: AFP

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