US stocks closer higher amid Fed's signals of gentler monetary policy

Mario Picone center works with fellow specialists on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Friday Jan. 4 2019

Mario Picone center works with fellow specialists on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Friday Jan. 4 2019

On Friday evening, early on U.S. trading session, the 4th of January, Friday, the Federal Reserve Chairman's comment had soothed the market environment significantly, and investors poised to bet on an early rally on Monday morning, as the Fed Chair had been quoted saying that the USA central bank is aware of the financial risks and would be more patient and flexible before hiking the interest rate again.

Powell's Fed hiked rates four times previous year and projections from its December 19 meeting show officials expect two more hikes in 2019.

Speaking after months of volatility in world financial markets, and just hours after a monthly jobs report suggested the US economy remained robust, Powell's soothing comments initially pushed stock indexes higher. "Can we wait?", Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank President Loretta Mester said in an interview with Reuters.

Fed chairman Jerome Powell pacified growing market fears subsequent to Apple's slash of quarterly revenue forecast on Thursday, which incurred steep losses in the three major indexes. "The Fed has wilfully ignored trade and interest rate risks while talking a hawkish game".

Speaking at the American Economic Association's annual meeting, Powell waved off criticisms from the Oval Office, such as when Trump said he was "not even a little bit happy" with Powell's performance, saying he had not received any direct communication from the White House about the Fed's actions, including recent rate hikes.

Compared to comments he made after the Fed raised rates last month, "it's not that he's changed his message. but that he explained it more patiently and in greater detail", said Lou Brien, market strategist at DRW Trading in Chicago.

On the economic front, stronger-than-expected employment data helped regain steam for the USA economy.

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Earlier on Friday, the Labor Department reported that nonfarm payrolls jumped by 312,000 jobs, well above market expectations, while wages and labour force participation rose, all signals of sustained economic strength.

Asked if there were any plans to meet with Trump, he declined to give a specific answer, simply saying "I would say that meetings between presidents and Fed chairs do happen".

At the conference on Friday, Mr Powell said he has not spoken directly to Mr Trump and would not resign if asked.

Meanwhile the Labor Department said US employers added 312,000 jobs last month, a far stronger result than experts had anticipated. The U.S. probably added 180,000 jobs in December, based on the median projection in a Bloomberg survey of economists. Yet signs are growing that Trump's tit-for-tat trade war with China is taking a toll: this week, tech giant Apple and grains trader Cargill warned about weaker sales in China. "Powell is definitely trying to calm the markets".

But Jason Schenker of Prestige Economics suggested the Fed could still take a hard line. "They're going to continue to say: we'll watch the incoming data, growth is slowing, financial conditions have tightened, and we'll react accordingly".

The US dollar retreated against the euro on Friday, giving up all the gains logged after a robust US jobs report, following comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell that the US central bank will be sensitive to the downside risks the market is pricing in.

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