USD Drops, S&P 500 Hits Record on Dovish Fed Minutes, Powell Testimony

Federal Reserve chairman signals cut in US interest rates

"Economic momentum appears to have slowed in some major foreign economies, and that weakness could affect the US economy". Trump wrote on Twitter earlier this month, the latest in a series of unprecedented attacks on the independence of the Fed by a sitting president. However, not all members are completely convinced that rate cuts are necessary at this time as several members voiced that they did not see a strong case for rate cuts when the Fed met last this past June.

In his prepared remarks, Powell made no mention of the president's criticism.

This means a July rate cut is nearly certain, by at least 25 basis points, maybe even more, but even James Bullard, the noted dove and St. Louis Federal Reserve President in a speech at the same time as Powell's stated that 50 basis points would be "overdone" and that a 2nd cut later in the year should be enough.

'The answer would be, 'No, " Powell said.

Earlier rounds of United States tariffs on trading partners - including China - had been dismissed as of little macroeconomic importance, with the Fed in early May still anticipating its policy rate would remain unchanged for the rest of the year. "The law clearly gives me a four-year term and I fully intend to serve it".

"Of course, I would not do that", replied Powell, who was appointed by Trump.

Powell's remarks came ahead of two days of testimony in Congress on the economic and policy outlook. On Thursday, he will address the Senate Banking Committee.

Inflation has been also running below the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) symmetric 2 percent objective, he noted, amid the above-mentioned "crosscurrents" that have created greater uncertainty since May. "It's put them at a tremendous competitive advantage, and we don't have that advantage because we have a Fed that doesn't lower interest rates". However, he added that "many" Fed official saw that the case for a looser monetary policy "had strengthened".

"Powell is setting it up, certainly for a July rate cut", Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Capital Management in Chicago, told the Reuters news agency.

The Fed leader's semiannual appearance in Congress - one in February and one in July - is required under the Federal Reserve Act, which directs the chairman to inform Congress how it's handling monetary policy and observations on key economic developments.

Shares of Levi Strauss tumbled around 12 percent, after the US apparel giant reported a slump in its second-quarter profit, as dragged down by "a stronger dollar, higher marketing costs, and investments in its online business".

That step eased fears that Trump would extend punitive tariffs to an additional $300 billion in Chinese goods, in the process inviting retaliation from Beijing on American exports and likely weakening both nations' economies. As the economy recovered the central bank began slowly raising rates.

And last week the government reported that after a tepid job gain in May, U.S. employers sharply stepped up their hiring in June, an indication of the economy's durability.

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