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Coronavirus is being closely monitored by Fed, Powell says

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell plans to tell Congress Wednesday that Fed officials aim to hold interest rates steady barring a “material” change in their outlook, though he said they’re “closely monitoring” the coronavirus for disruptions “that could spill over to the rest of the global economy.”

The Fed cut its benchmark federal funds rate three times last year during the Trump administration’s trade war with China and as global growth turned sluggish. The outlook brightened somewhat late last year.

“With some uncertainties surrounding trade having diminished and amid some signs that global growth may be stabilizing, the (Fed) left policy rate unchanged,” Powell said in prepared testimony he plans to deliver at 10 a.m. before the House Financial Services Committee.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says some uncertainties about trade have diminished.

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He said, “In particular, we are closely monitoring the emergence of the coronavirus, which could lead to disruptions in China that spill over to the rest of the global economy.”

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