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Fed to hold steady despite global risks

Washington, November 2, 2011

The US Federal Reserve looks set to take a breather from monetary stimulus measures on Wednesday, even if financial market turbulence heightens the chances of action later.

The US central bank's debate over the course of policy, including a potential shift toward using a concrete set of targets for inflation and the jobless rate as policy triggers, comes against a troubled global backdrop and with the US
economy far from full health.

Greece's call for a referendum on the latest euro zone debt deal dashed hopes Europe had finally come to grips with its debt crisis, sending global equity markets into a tailspin.

The US recovery, for its part, remains anemic and could be knocked off course if Europe fails to quell its crisis.

A report on Wednesday showed US private-sector payrolls expanded by 110,000 workers in October, not enough to signal a robust hiring revival, while data on Tuesday showed growth in the manufacturing sector slowed to a crawl, although new orders rose.

The US economy grew at a 2.5 percent annual pace in the third quarter, a significant improvement over the second quarter's 1.3 percent increase but still too soft to put a dent in the nation's 9.1 percent unemployment rate.   

An ongoing if modest US recovery provides room for the Fed to pause as it mulls offering newly detailed guidance on its policy goals or making another round of asset purchases.   

"There is some talk that the Fed will announce renewed mortgage-backed securities purchases, but we are not convinced the Fed is there," said Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman.   

"Increasing the balance sheet remains an option that the Fed refuses to reject. We expect the option not to be exercised unless there is a material risk of a renewed US economic contraction or that the risks of deflation increase markedly," Chandler said. - Reuters




Tags: recovery | US economy | Fed |

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