S&P 500 heads to record high as Powell begins semiannual testimony

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell began delivering his semiannual update to Congress on Tuesday, appearing before the Senate Banking Committee. He will appear before the House Financial Services Committee tomorrow.

Yahoo Finance’s Jennifer Schoenberger tells the story:

Powell indicated that the central bank is getting closer to feeling comfortable about cutting interest rates, saying he is encouraged by evidence of low inflation and that more “good data” would help get the Fed to where it wants to be.

Inflation numbers “showed some modest additional progress” after some of the hotter readings in the first quarter, he said in prepared testimony to U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday, “and more good data should bolster our confidence that inflation is moving sustainably toward 2 percent.”

This is the second time in the past week that Powell has sounded bullish on the inflation picture. On Tuesday, he noted that the latest inflation readings in April and May “suggest that we are back on a deflationary path.”

FILE - Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaks during a news conference at the Federal Reserve Bank of Washington, June 12, 2024. Powell testifies before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, July 9, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaks during a news conference at the Federal Reserve Bank of Washington, June 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) (News agency)

The next reading on inflation as measured by the consumer price index is due on Thursday.

Inflation is not expected to accelerate, but it is not expected to decline either. Based on the “core” CPI — which strips out volatile food and energy prices that the Fed can’t control — inflation is expected to hold steady at 3.4% in June from the same level in May.

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Powell, in his prepared testimony, indicated that the Fed will continue to make monetary policy decisions meeting by meeting. He stressed that cutting interest rates too quickly could reverse progress in reducing inflation, while keeping rates high for too long could weaken the economy and the labor market.

Democrats are expected to press Powell to cut rates soon, while Republicans are likely to press Powell on bank capital rules and insist that rates should not be cut too close to the November election.

In his testimony, Powell stressed that Congress has given the Fed the operational independence necessary to take a “long-term perspective” in pursuing its dual mission of maximum employment and price stability.

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