Members of the Federal Open Markets Committee are comfortable with keeping the federal funds rate unchanged for "some time," according to minutes released Wednesday from its April 30-May 1 meeting.
At that meeting, the committee held the target range for the federal funds rate at 2.25% to 2.5%. At a news conference following the meeting, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the committee doesn't "see a strong case for moving in either direction."
That patient approach "would likely remain appropriate for some time, especially in an environment of moderate economic growth and muted inflation pressures, even if global economic and financial conditions continued to improve," the minutes said.
Previous meeting minutes expressed concern over Brexit, global economic conditions and ongoing trade issues, but "a number of participants observed" that those risks and uncertainties have moderated.
Cliff Corso, New York-based executive chairman at Insight Investment, noted that trade talks between the U.S. and China hit a rough patch following the Fed meeting and before the minutes were released so those sentiments may have changed.
Members reiterated that their economic assessments would take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial and international developments. "More generally, members noted that decisions regarding near-term adjustments of the stance of monetary policy would appropriately remain dependent on the evolution of the outlook as informed by incoming data," the minutes said.
Mr. Corso said it's likely rates will remain unchanged for the foreseeable future. "I think they've set a pretty high bar to either increase or decrease the fed funds rate at this point," he said.
At the group's previous meeting in March, FOMC members reduced the number of projected rate hikes in 2019 to zero from two. They now project, on average, that the federal funds rate will stay at 2.4% by the end of 2019 and rise to 2.6% by the end of 2020.