Fed officials say rate hikes could slow growth

Federal Reserve boss Jerome Powell said the US economy was 'in great shape'

Fed officials estimated two more interest rate hikes in the remainder of 2018 during the meeting and remained optimistic about the overall health of the economy.

Meeting three weeks ago, Fed officials reported that their contacts in the steel and aluminum industries - both meant to be beneficiaries of the Trump administration's policies - expected higher prices as a result of the dispute "but had not planned any new investments to increase capacity".

USA central bankers discussed whether recession lurked around the corner and expressed concerns global trade tensions could hit an economy that by most measures looked strong, minutes of the Federal Reserve's last policy meeting on June 12-13 released on Thursday showed.

'Negative Effects' "Most participants noted that uncertainty and risks associated with trade policy had intensified and were concerned that such uncertainty and risks eventually could have negative effects on business sentiment and investment spending", the minutes said. The bank made three rate hikes previous year and one in December 2016. At the June meeting, they voted to raise the benchmark rate for a second time this year to a new range of 1.75% to 2%.

Officials discussed the fact that under their expected path, its key policy rate, known as the federal funds rate, could be at or even above the neutral level - the point at which the rate is neither stimulating economic growth or holding it back.

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Unemployment was 3.8 percent in May, matching the lows since the late 1960s, and the Fed's preferred gauge of consumer prices rose 2.3 percent on annual basis in May.

Because of this expected trajectory, a number of officials suggested at the meeting that it might soon be appropriate to drop the language in the policy statement indicating that the stance of monetary policy "remains accommodative". As from midnight on Friday, the first wave of United States tariffs will apply to 818 Chinese goods ranging from boat motors to LEDs and radio equipment.

The Trump administration has imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Trump has staked out a tougher approach on trade in an effort to achieve his goal of dramatically shrinking America's huge trade deficits, which he has blamed for the loss of millions of US factory jobs. He said the following week that, in principle, " changes in trade policy could cause us to have to question the outlook", adding that business contacts were telling the Fed it might be a reason to delay investment or hiring.


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