Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday he considers the central bank’s benchmark interest rate to be near a neutral level, an important distinction from remarks he made less than two months ago. Powell’s remarks led to the dollar weakening across the board. Traders expect more clues on the Fed’s monetary tightening path from the minutes of the US central bank’s meeting, due today.
WTI crude oil fell below $50 a barrel for the first time in more than a year. Further rise in US crude stockpiles, coupled with Saudi Arabia’s insistence that it will not cut output on its own to stabilize the market, pushed oil prices lower. WTI crude prices have hit a low of $49.41.
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said it is in Britain’s best interests to strike a transition deal with the European Union, regardless of whatever form Brexit takes. Carney warned reduced openness in the UK economy would lead to effects such as a lower exchange rate and higher inflation.
US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said the country will consider raising tariffs on Chinese automobiles to 40 percent from the current 27.5 percent, ahead of a US-China summit this weekend in Argentina. Lighthizer said China’s policies are especially egregious with respect to automobile tariffs, which currently stand at 40 percent.