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Repeats Story Initially Transmitted at 00:27 GMT Nov 15/19:27 EST Nov 14
By Jean Yung
     WASHINGTON (MNI) - The Federal Reserve could raise interest rates at any of
its eight calendar-year meetings now that its leader plans to hold a press
conference after every meeting, Chair Jay Powell said Wednesday, adding he
expects markets to gradually adjust their expectations accordingly. 
     "Certainly, all meetings are live now, there's no question about it now,"
he told a forum in Dallas. "The market has got in the habit of us moving at
press conference meetings" in March, June, September and December, but that will
change starting next year. And "over time markets are going to have to get used
to that." 
     Powell also stressed that the Fed will be guided by incoming data in
determining the timing and pace of the next rate hikes. Officials expect to
raise rates another 125 basis points over the next few years. 
     "We have to be thinking about how much further to raise rates and the pace
at which we will raise rates. The way we will approaching that is to be looking
really carefully at how the markets and the economy and business contacts are
reacting to our policy," Powell said. 
     For now, he's "very happy" about the state of the economy and believes
inflation is "right on target, and there's pretty good reason to think we'll
continue in that vein." 
     --BALANCE SHEET
     Powell said the Fed's ongoing normalization of its balance sheet is "going
very well," but gave no indication that policymakers have reached a consensus
over the ultimate size of the "new normal" balance sheet.  
     "I think we don't actually know what the equilibrium state of the balance
sheet will be," he said. "In the longer run the balance sheet will depend on
public demand for our liabilities, that is to say currency and reserves." 
     The demand for bank reserves is much higher now, he added. 
     "We are in the process of returning to a small balance sheet and I'd say
we're on track to do that." 
     --HEADWINDS AHEAD
     Slowing growth abroad as well as the waning of the fiscal stimulus out of
the Trump administration pose headwinds for the economy, Powell said. 
     While business contacts report trade tensions as a rising cause of concern,
"we don't see much in near term effects," Powell said. "It hasn't shown up yet
in the data," in the form of either slower growth or higher inflation. 
     Also, Powell signaled that the recent volatility in global markets,
especially in equities, were not a high concern, noting market volatility is
only one of many factors the Fed watches in monitoring financial conditions. 
--MNI Washington Bureau; +1 202-371-2121; email: jean.yung@marketnews.com