S&P 500 hits 3000 as Powell's comment lifts rate cut hopes

A currency trader stands by the screens showing the foreign exchange rates at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul South Korea Monday

Powell was not explicit, but in his prepared statement to the House Financial Services Committee he noted that the Fed in June announced it "would act as appropriate to sustain the expansion".

Since a series of Trump trade tweets in late May, both investors and the Fed have begun shifting their stance, with markets now expecting a cut of at least a quarter of a percentage point when Fed policymakers meet at the end of the month.

But relentless pressure from President Trump for a rate cut could complicate matters for a Fed that prizes its independence.

In prepared testimony ahead of a House hearing, Powell highlighted continued uncertainty about trade as a drag on U.S. growth, amplifying his message from recent appearances that have been widely seen by investors as opening the door to an interest rate cut.

He said that growth in business investment "seems to have slowed notably", possibly because of concerns over slowing global growth and the trade battle between the United States and China.

The dollar gained on positioning ahead of Fed chair Powell's testimony tomorrow while we saw the pound fall to its weakest level against the greenback since April 2017 with cable falling to a low of 1.2440 in the last fifteen minutes. In the last two weeks or so, the markets have been paring back bets on rate cut expectations as it has become evident that the Fed is not in a rush to ease policy.

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The US economy did not change much in the days that followed Trump's May 30 comments on Twitter threatening to impose tariffs on Mexico unless the country met his demands for tougher controls on immigrants crossing its northern border. On Sunday, Mr. Trump asserted that if the Fed "knew what it was doing", it would cut rates. Despite the recent adjustments in the markets over easing expectations, there is still a strong expectation that the central bank will start an easing cycle this month.

Many investors have put the odds of a rate cut this month at 100 per cent. But almost all now foresee only a quarter-point move.

Oil prices were supported by West Asian tensions and news that USA stockpiles fell for a fourth week in a row, easing concerns about oversupply.

Trump has pushed hard for cuts in the hope of boosting economic growth further.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell once again said he would not resign if President Trump asked him to do so.

Though the threatened tariffs on Mexico never materialized and China and the United States have agreed to resume talks to reach a trade deal, that "did little to alleviate the uncertainty that Fed officials believe is contributing to cooling momentum in global trade and domestic capex plans", Deutsche Bank's U.S. economics team wrote this week.

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