Federal Reserve policymakers last month grappled with “significant uncertainties” and persistently low inflation as they scrapped forecasts for interest-rate hikes in 2019 even while voicing the need to maintain policy flexibility.
“Several participants noted that their views of the appropriate target range for the federal funds rate could shift in either direction based on incoming data and other developments,” according to minutes of the March 19-20 Fed meeting, released Wednesday in Washington.
SFGate reported that the minutes show U.S. central bankers reacting to a fourth- quarter slowdown that appeared to be extending into the first three months of the year. They also cited several uncertainties, ranging from Brexit deliberations, to risks of persistent softness in domestic spending and deeper-than-expected slowdowns in Europe and China.
The Fed’s median estimate last month showed no hikes for the remainder of 2019, erasing their forecast from December for two increases this year.
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