The Federal Reserve raised interest rates as expected by a quarter point, as well as raising its economic outlook for this year and next and removing the reference in its statement that policy is “accommodative”. The FOMC continued to project one more hike this year, three in 2019 and one increase in 2020.
The Trump Administration is set to push forward a Mexico only NAFTA update as officials from Washington and Ottawa remain at loggerheads in trade talks despite weeks of face-to-face negotiations to update the North American Free Trade Agreement and keep it as a trilateral deal. The impasse raises fears the US will leave Canada, its biggest export market.
Oil prices eased for a brief period after US crude inventories rose by 1.9 million barrels, but an impending drop in Iranian exports kept Brent crude above $80 a barrel. Brent crude prices have hit a high of $82.44.
Italy’s new government struggled to contain a fierce internal battle over fiscal policy on Thursday, hours before it was due to unveil its 2019 budget targets, sparking a sell-off of state bonds and reviving fears the economy minister could quit.