Despite Trump criticism, Fed policymakers see need for more rate hikes

Last week US President Donald Trump called the Fed

EVAN VUCCI APLast week US President Donald Trump called the Fed"out of control

Further rate hikes "would most likely be consistent" with the current period of firming inflation and historically low unemployment, according to minutes from the Federal Reserve's most recent meeting three weeks ago.

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

The president told Fox Business's Trish Regan that the greatest threat to his presidency is one that would destroy economic growth. "I'm not blaming anybody", Trump said in the interview. Critics have expressed concern that his continual attacks on the Fed, which began in the summer, threaten its need to operate free of political pressure from the White House or elsewhere to properly manage interest rate policy.

He also criticized the Fed last week after the stock market's selloff, telling reporters the central bank had "gone crazy" and is "out of control".

Those remarks came in a week when the stock market, which Trump has often cited as a barometer for his stewardship of the economy, was plunging.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has said the central bank will monitor interest rates to avoid raising them too quickly, which could hamper USA growth.

The broadly united front could bolster expectations the central bank will raise rates a fourth time this year in December, but the minutes also show the committee remains split on how much further to raise rates next year.

The minutes showed that officials were generally pleased with how the economy is unfolding this year, with strong job growth and inflation hovering near the Fed's 2 percent goal.

The Dow Jones industrial average on Wednesday fell 91.74 points, to 25,706.68. "And it's too independent, so I don't speak to [Trump-appointed Fed Chair Jerome Powell], but I'm not happy with what he's doing, because it's going too fast, because - you looked at the last inflation numbers, they're very low".

Though the minutes did not refer to any of Trump's criticism, its message of further rate increases suggests that policymakers are not fazed by it. Trump denied having direct contact with Powell since nominating him.

Despite his criticism of the Fed's policymaking, Trump's picks have been seen as representing the mainstream of economic thinking about how a central bank should manage interest rates.

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