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Fed signals more rate hikes despite emerging market ‘stress’

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The US Federal Reserve has signalled there will be another rise in interest rates this year, despite opposition from the White House and growing concerns about the impact on emerging market economies.

In minutes from last month’s central bank rate-setting meeting, which unanimously agreed a third rise of the year, policymakers said further rate hikes “would most likely be consistent” with current economic indicators.

Markets expect another in December.

A decade on from the start of the financial crisis the economy is growing at a faster rate than expected, inflation is firming and the unemployment rate remains at a record low, the Fed’s record showed.

The meeting took place three weeks ago – before last week’s global market meltdown that saw stocks and bond prices hit sharply amid jitters over rising US rates and the US trade war with China.

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President Donald Trump laid the blame firmly at the Fed’s door – describing it as “crazy” for raising rates, an action which tends to strengthen the dollar.

As well as making life more difficult for US exporters, a stronger greenback also raises the borrowing costs of many heavily-indebted emerging market economies, such as those in Latin America which have high levels of dollar-denominated borrowing.

A higher dollar makes their debt repayments more expensive.

The Fed minutes showed some members were worried by the instability in emerging markets, such as Venezuela and Argentina, warning it could “spread more broadly through the global economy and financial markets.”

US stock markets, which had largely expected a ‘steady as you go’ statement, moved slightly higher but remained loss-making after the update, which stressed a continuation of the Fed’s “gradual” approach to rate rise policy.

Treasury yields were little changed.

Nevertheless, market commentators said the minutes set the stage for a battle of wills ahead.

Mike Loewengart, vice president of investment strategy at E*Trade, said: “For now, the Fed has made it clear that they are focused on their agenda despite rising presidential pressure on their rate decisions.”

(c) Sky News 2018: Fed signals more rate hikes despite emerging market ‘stress’