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Markets Cloud US Central Bank's Decision on Rates

  • VOA News

FILE - The U.S. Federal Reserve Board building is shown behind security barriers in Washington.

FILE - The U.S. Federal Reserve Board building is shown behind security barriers in Washington.

Recent chaos on global stock markets is complicating the U.S. central bank's task of deciding when to raise U.S. interest rates.

Stanley Fischer, vice chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, said Friday that market developments and incoming economic data would guide the decision. In a television interview, he said the case for raising rates was "pretty strong" before this week's wild price swings on global stock markets. He added that no decision had been made.

Earlier this week, William Dudley, New York Federal Reserve president, said market tumult made the case for higher interest rates "less compelling." Some other top Fed officials have said they still think rates should rise.

The U.S. central bank plans to announce in mid-September whether it will raise interest rates for the first time since 2008. That is when officials cut rates to record-low levels close to zero in an effort to bolster economic growth during the financial crisis.

Fed officials are supposed to work toward full employment and stable prices. A key measure of inflation, outside the volatile areas of food and energy, shows prices advancing just 1.2 percent over the past 12 months. That is below the 2 percent annual rate Fed officials say would be best for managing the economy. Fischer said he was confident that U.S. inflation would move toward the Fed's 2 percent target.

Fed officials will get several reports on the health of the U.S. job market over the next week, including next Friday's closely watched data on the unemployment rate, which stood at 5.3 percent in July.

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