Powell Meeting On? Depends on Who You Ask

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Data released earlier on Friday showed US employers added the most workers in 10 months as wage gains accelerated.

Powell "said exactly what the markets wanted to hear", said Gregori Volokhine of Meeschaert Financial Services.

The Fed, which hiked benchmark US interest rates four times a year ago including in December, is however not on a preset path and could pause policy tightening as it did in 2016 when global growth concerns led to doubts about the USA economic recovery, he said. The week was a volatile one for stocks.

He has blamed the Fed for stock market declines and said he is "not even a little bit happy" with Mr Powell, whom he named to lead the Fed in 2017.

Powell also said the Fed is monitoring the financial markets despite criticism from some analysts that the central bank was ignoring the market's recent heightened volatility.

In the cash market, the benchmark S&P 500 Index settled at 2531.94, up 84.05 or +3.17%.

"There is no pre-set path for policy", Powell said during an appearance at a conference of economists in Atlanta. The Fed said in December it anticipated raising rates twice in 2019.

In response to the observation that the Treasury issues more securities when the Fed's balance sheet holdings mature, Powell said, "We don't believe our issuance is an important part of the story in the market turbulence that began in the fourth quarter of a year ago".

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Her comments, from a sometimes hawkish Fed official, highlighted the change in tone at a central bank that, after two years of roughly quarterly rate increases, was now assessing the risks of going too far.

Powell's appearance in Atlanta was his first since last month's rate increase and a public lashing from Trump, who according to sources asked aides about his power to fire the Fed chairman.

In December, Powell said that the Fed's balance sheet reduction was on "autopilot".

The head of the Fed, once confirmed by the Senate, can only be removed "for cause", not a policy disagreement.

When asked where the smart money would go - would it go to China after the warning Apple gave or would it chase developed markets after the jobs report, he said, "The smart money will be rethinking this whole idea that the global economy is slowing down and my guess it want take much to get the risk on trade back in play again".

Asked if he would resign if Trump asked him to do so, Powell responded with a short "no".

The Fed's tightening cycle includes both rate hikes and the gradual shedding of its more than $4 trillion in assets.

Powell's willingness to be flexible on interest rates was welcome news to investors, many of whom anxious that Fed chair risked cutting off the current economic expansion by continuing to raise interest rates despite signs the USA economy was cooling off a little. "I have no news for you on that".

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