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Fed's Waller says "more comfortable" with smaller hikes after recent data

Thursday, November 17, 2022
Fed's Waller says © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve governors Michelle Bowman and Christopher Waller pose for a photo, during a break at a conference on monetary policy at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, in Palo Alto, California, U.S. May 6, 2022. Picture taken May 6,

By Howard Schneider and Ann Saphir

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller, an early and outspoken "hawk" in the central bank's efforts to confront inflation, said Wednesday he is now "more comfortable" with smaller rate increases going forward after recent data showed the pace of price increases slowing.

In remarks prepared for delivery at an Arizona economic conference, Waller said it remains unclear how high the Fed will need to raise interest rates, and that he will not make a final decision about what to do at the Fed's Dec. 13-14 policy meeting until reviewing the rest of the data between now and then.

"I will not be head-faked by one report," Waller said of consumer price data released last week that saw larger than expected declines in both headline inflation and a narrower but more closely watched index of "core" prices. "We've seen this movie before."

But he also said the most recent reports were a "positive development" that he hoped would be "the beginning of a meaningful and persistent decline in inflation" back to the Fed's 2% target.After raising rates in atypically large three-quarter point increments at its last four meetings, Waller said that as it stands "the data of the past few weeks have made me more comfortable considering stepping down to a 50-basis-point hike," in December and possibly to smaller quarter-point increases after that.

The Fed's latest policy statement flagged a likely step down in the size of upcoming rate hikes, with officials shifting focus to a more nuanced approach that gives them more time to monitor how the economy and inflation are behaving while leaving themselves free to keep pushing rates higher.

Recent positive news on inflation has led investors to bet the Fed may not have to do as much as expected, and may only need to raise the target policy rate to around 5%. It is currently set in a range of between 3.75% and 4%.

Waller said signs the economy and wage growth are slowing have added to his sense that Fed policy is beginning to do its job.

But he cautioned it was too early to pin down just how high rates may need to go.

"One report does not make a trend. It is way too early to conclude that inflation is headed sustainably down," he said. "Getting inflation to fall meaningfully and persistently toward our 2% target will require increases in the federal funds rate into next year. We still have a ways to go."

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    EUR/USD 1.0511 Sell  
    GBP/USD 1.2212 Neutral  
    USD/JPY 136.49 ↑ Buy  
    AUD/USD 0.6722 Neutral  
    USD/CAD 1.3576 Neutral  
    EUR/JPY 143.48 ↑ Buy  
    EUR/CHF 0.9897 ↑ Sell  
    Gold 1,786.35 ↑ Buy  
    Silver 22.622 ↑ Buy  
    Copper 3.8208 ↑ Buy  
    Crude Oil WTI 77.70 ↑ Buy  
    Brent Oil 83.47 ↑ Buy  
    Natural Gas 5.595 Buy  
    US Coffee C 163.42 ↑ Sell  
    Euro Stoxx 50 3,956.53 ↑ Sell  
    S&P 500 3,998.84 ↑ Buy  
    DAX 14,447.61 ↑ Sell  
    FTSE 100 7,567.54 ↑ Sell  
    Hang Seng 19,447.00 Buy  
    Small Cap 2000 1,835.79 ↑ Buy  
    IBEX 35 8,370.10 ↑ Sell  
    BASF 47.970 Sell  
    Bayer 53.09 ↑ Buy  
    Allianz 203.00 Buy  
    Adidas 122.06 ↑ Sell  
    Lufthansa 7.766 ↑ Buy  
    Siemens AG 135.44 ↑ Buy  
    Deutsche Bank AG 10.150 Neutral  
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