Fed officials discussed hiking rates to 'restrictive' level

Trump attends the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos

Fed officials discussed hiking rates to 'restrictive' level

Still, the minutes released on Wednesday showed that, for the moment at least, American policymakers were largely in agreement about the near future - despite the increasing heat from the President, who fears higher rates could derail his economic agenda.

Trump has blamed the market's big sell-off on rising rates and has described the Fed as being "out of control". Critics have expressed concern that his continual attacks on the Fed, which began in the summer, threaten its need to operate free of political pressure from the White House or elsewhere to properly manage interest rate policy. The range remains tight as investors continue to assess the impact of rising U.S. Treasury yields, a firm U.S. Dollar and the potential for stock market volatility. The dollar also rose.

Mr. Trump said Tuesday in an interview with Fox Business Network that he views the Fed as his "biggest threat", criticizing Chairman Jerome Powell and other Fed officials for moving "too fast" to raise interest rates.

But, amid brisk American expansion, some Fed policymakers also warned of looming dangers to the world economy, such as the potential for a strengthening United States dollar and possible contagion from sputtering emerging markets, according to minutes from the Fed's most recent meeting three weeks ago.

Fed members said Trump's trade wars both created uncertainty and could boost inflation.

FILE PHOTO: A jogger runs past the Federal Reserve building in Washington, DC, U.S., August 22, 2018.

"A few participants expected that policy would need to become modestly restrictive for a time", according to the minutes. The next rate rise could come as soon as December. Traders of futures contracts tied to the Fed's policy rate see rates topping out at about 3 percent.

In the minutes, policymakers said estimates of the neutral rate would only be "one among many" factors going into monetary policy decisions.

The U.S. economy has been growing more quickly this year than many economists believe is possible without generating higher inflation, with the jobless rate at its lowest level in decades.

The minutes showed that "almost all" policymakers agreed it was time to remove that language.

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