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Fed’s George, Rosengren Don’t Think Rate Cut Is Justified Yet

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The U.S. economy’s loss of momentum isn’t severe enough to warrant a further reduction to interest rates, two hawkish Federal Reserve board members said.

Speaking at the weekend, both Kansas City Fed President Esther George and the Boston Fed’s Eric Rosengren singled out consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of the economy, as a key variable and said that so long as it remained vibrant there was no need to add additional accommodation even as the manufacturing sector suffers and the trade war weighs on sentiment.

“If the economy grows at 1.7%, consumption continues to be strong, inflation is gradually going up and the unemployment rate is at 3.5%, I would not see a need for additional accommodation” at the Fed’s October or December policy meetings, Rosengren said on Saturday. He downgraded his growth forecast from 2% but said that overall, “the economy is right where we want it to be.”

In the U.S., the once-red hot labor market is losing steam, and data showing weak activity in the services and manufacturing industries, along with purchasing managers’ disappointing assessments of employment, have significantly boosted the odds traders are placing on a Fed interest-rate cut later this month.

Chairman Jerome Powell has been under relentless public pressure from President Donald Trump to reduce rates. On Friday Powell gave no clear signal as to whether he favors the Federal Open Market Committee making another rate cut this year, saying that the U.S. economy was in a “good place” but faced risks.

At the September FOMC meeting, just seven of the 17 participants projected another rate cut following reductions at the prior two...

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