New York Post

Easing of rate hikes in view

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Most Federal Reserve officials at their last meeting favored cutting the size of their interest rate hikes “soon” — just before raising their benchmark rate by a substantia­l three-quarters of a point for a fourth straight time.

The central bank’s policymake­rs saw “very few signs that inflation pressures were abating.” Still, a substantia­l majority of the officials felt that smaller rate hikes “would likely soon be appropriat­e,” according to the minutes of their Nov. 1-2 meeting released Wednesday.

The Fed is widely expected to raise its key shortterm rate, which affects many consumer and business loans, by a half point when it next meets in midDecembe­r.

“Slowing the pace would give the [Fed] the ability to assess the economic landscape and see where they’re at,” Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, wrote in a research report. “Short of some wild inflation report before the next meeting, [a half-percentage-point hike] sounds very reasonable in December. But the Fed is clearly not finished yet.’’

Rising wages, the result of a strong job market combined with weak productivi­ty growth, were “inconsiste­nt” with the Fed’s ability to meet its 2% target for annual inflation, the policymake­rs concluded, according to the minutes.

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