Federal Reserve Chair Powell hints at a pause in rate hikes when central bank meets next month
May 19, 2023 -WASHINGTON (AP) — Chair Jerome Powell indicated Friday that the Federal Reserve will likely forgo an increase in its benchmark interest rate when it meets in June for the first time since it began raising its key rate 14 months ago to fight high inflation.
In signaling so, Powell provided some clarity about the Fed’s likely next policy move after a cacophony of speeches this week by central bank officials had clouded the picture.
“Having come this far, we can afford to look at the data and the evolving outlook and make careful assessments,” Powell said, referring to the Fed’s 10 straight rate hikes, which have elevated its key short-term rate from near zero a year ago to about 5.1%, its highest level in 16 years.
Speaking at a Fed conference in Washington, Powell said the central bank’s benchmark rate, which affects many consumer and business loans, is now high enough to restrain borrowing, spending and economic growth. Fed officials hope that slower growth will cool inflation over time.