Fed Cuts Interest Rates For The 3rd Time This Year

Wednesday, October 30th 2019, 2:35 pm
By: News 9

The Federal Reserve is lowering its benchmark interest rate for the third time this year in a bid to shore up U.S. economic growth.

Wall Street largely expected the cut of 0.25 percentage points, which brings the Fed's target rate to a range of 1.5% to 1.75%. Less clear is where central bankers go from here amid signs the economy is slowing down. Fed chief Jerome Powell is set to speak to reporters at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time.

"All eyes and ears will be focused on the accompanying statement and press conference, which is potentially more important than the rate cut," Gregory Leo, chief investment officer and head of global wealth management at IDB Bank, said in a note. "The economy clearly has slowed and needs an added boost."

The Fed statement follows a report Wednesday morning that the economy grew at a 1.9% annual rate in the July-to-September quarter. That is down from  3.1% in the first quarter and 2.9% for the year-ago period.

The Fed's previous rate cuts, in late July and September, have worked to boost home sales by lowering mortgage rates. Business spending, however, fell in the third quarter by the most in nearly four years. Many companies have postponed major investment projects because of uncertainty stemming from the U.S.-China trade war.

The Fed has now nearly completely reversed the four rate hikes it made last year in response to a strengthening economy. While some investors are hoping for a fourth rate cut this year, others say that is premature. 

"As long as economic readings stabilize and inflation continues to edge higher, we do not think that the Fed will ease again in December," Ben Ayers, senior economist at Nationwide, said in a note. 

Ayers added that financial markets are predicting less than a 1-in-4 chance of another rate cut before 2020. "There is higher degree of uncertainty than usual, however, and a negative turn in growth readings or geopolitics could prompt further stimulus from the Fed to sustain the expansion," he said.

CBS News' Irina Ivanova contributed reporting.

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