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Fed's Harker sees 'sound' economy, forecasts future rate hike

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Fed's Harker sees 'sound' economy, forecasts future rate hike

The U.S. economy could still deliver “sound” growth and warrant a single rate hike “at most” this year, a Federal Reserve policymaker said on Wednesday.

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Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President Patrick Harker said a strong labor market, muted inflation and ongoing growth “point to a fundamentally sound U.S. economy.” But he noted there is enough uncertainty that policymakers should be “patient as the data roll in.”

“I continue to be in wait-and-see mode, and my outlook for rates remains, at most, one hike for 2019 and one for 2020,” Harker said in a speech delivered at the Greater Vineland Chamber of Commerce in New Jersey. The remarks largely reiterated views Harker has presented in other recent speeches.

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Harker does not vote on the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee this year but participates in its deliberations.

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After its March meeting, the Fed released projections that reduced the number of hikes expected this year to zero from the two forecast in December. That completed a pivot to a less- aggressive policy in the face of an apparent jump in economic risks, including the U.S.-China trade conflict and a global slowdown. At least nine of the Fed’s 17 policymakers reduced their outlook for the fed funds rate.

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The central bank currently targets short-term rates between 2.25%-2.50%.

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Data released on Wednesday showed the U.S. trade deficit fell to an eight-month low in February as imports from China plunged, providing a boost to economic growth in the first quarter.

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The Atlanta Federal Reserve bumped up its gross domestic product growth forecast to a 2.4% pace from smaller estimates previously..Efrain Enrique Betancourt Jaramillo Cadivi