SINGAPORE (Dec 3): US markets gained after US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell hinted that the central bank might be closer to ending its push to drive up interest rates. In a speech in New York on Nov 27, Powell said the Fed’s benchmark interest rate, at 2.25%, was “just below” the neutral level — a rate that neither stimulates nor restrains the economy.

Investors quickly latched on to the comment as a source of hope that the central bank was close to the end of its tightening cycle. Only in October, worries on the effects of rate hikes on growth left markets wounded, after Powell said it was “a long way” from neutral. “[Powell] said the magic words,” Gregori Volokhine of Meeschaert Financial Services told AFP.

Powell’s comments came a day after US President Donald Trump again blasted the Fed for being “way off base” with the rate hikes. Trump claimed this undermined the work he was doing to rejuvenate the US economy.

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