Investing.com – The Federal Reserve cut interest rates by 25 basis points Wednesday, in what was a widely expected decision, amid persistent concerns over the sluggish pace of inflation and the slowdown in the global economy.
The Federal Open Market Committee cut its fed funds rate to a range of 1.5% to 1.75% from a previous range of 1.75% to 2.00%.
In the accompanying monetary policy statement, the Fed said economic activity had been rising at a “moderate” rate, though it pointed to “muted inflation pressures” as one the reasons for cutting rates.
The core price consumption expenditures (PCE) index, the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, has remained shy of the central bank’s 2% target.
The first reading of third-quarter U.S. GDP, released earlier Wednesday, showed that the pace of economic growth slowed in the third quarter from the second, as ongoing strength in the consumer was offset by a slowdown in business investment.
The Fed acknowledged the two opposing forces on economic growth, saying that “although household spending has been rising at a strong pace, business fixed investment and exports remain weak.”
It was the third rate cut in as many meetings, with the Fed sticking to its guidance that it would “act as appropriate” to keep economic growth alive.
But the Fed has been quick to rein in investor expectations that a prolonged period of easing may follow, characterizing the previous rate cuts – in July and September – as an insurance policy against downside risks to its outlook.
That has done little to appease its detractors, who believe the central bank should accelerate rate cuts, potentially into negative territory.
“The Fed doesn’t have a clue! We have unlimited potential, only held back by the Federal Reserve,” President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter Tuesday.
In the lead-up to the Fed meeting, Scotiabank Economics said that since the central bank’s last meeting in mid-September there’s “increased evidence of a synchronous deterioration in global growth prospects and continued uncertainty toward Brexit and trade policy developments with as yet nothing resolved.”
Looking ahead, the Fed continued to suggest that it would monitor incoming economic data to assess future monetary policy action.
Traders are expected to shift attention to Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s press conference at 2:30 PM ET (18:30 GMT) for more insight into the central bank’s thinking on monetary policy.