The Federal Open Markets Committee will act as appropriate to sustain the U.S. economic expansion, but concerns over trade policy and Brexit negotiations have weighed on business investment decisions, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said.
While taking part in a question-and-answer session in Zurich, Switzerland, Friday alongside Thomas J. Jordan, head of the Swiss National Bank, Mr. Powell said he expects to see moderate economic growth continue in the U.S. this year.
Mr. Powell did not tip his hand when asked about what the Fed might do at its next meeting on Sept. 17-18. At its last meeting in July, the Fed lowered the target range for the federal funds rate by 25 basis points to 2% to 2.25%. Another cut is widely expected at the next meeting.
"What we've said is we're going to act as appropriate to sustain the expansion," he said. "I don't have anything other than that to say here tonight."
The committee will be focused on issues like trade tensions with China, Brexit uncertainty and the protests in Hong Kong, as well as incoming economic data to inform its decision, Mr. Powell noted.
Mr. Powell said that while the Fed does not comment on trade policy, it is "causing some companies to hold back now on investment. Our obligation is to use our tools to support the economy and that's what we'll continue to do."
But on the whole, the Fed is not forecasting a recession, he added. "The incoming data for the United States economy is still moderate growth, a strong labor market and inflation continuing to move back up," Mr. Powell said.
He was asked several times about the Fed's independence and how he avoids political pressure, often from President Donald Trump.
"Political factors play absolutely no role in our process and my colleagues and I would not tolerate any attempt to include them in our decision making or our discussions," Mr. Powell said. "That's not our DNA."