Wall Street touches new highs after comments by Fed's Powell

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US stocks ended higher and the S&P 500 index briefly crossed the 3,000-point mark for the first time on Wednesday as remarks by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reassured investors about the potential for an interest rate cut later this month.

Powell said the central bank stands ready to "act as appropriate".

The US central bank's chief said "broad" global weakness was clouding the US economic outlook amid uncertainty about the fallout from the Trump administration's trade conflicts with China and other nations.

The Fed's skittish outlook for the economy - which meanwhile downplayed the risks of inflation despite a strong job market - sent stocks roaring as it strengthened the central bank's case to take action to prolong an 11-year expansion.

Libra is only on paper at the moment but it has caused quite a stir in the regulatory space not only in the USA and Europe but also Asia, particularly China. -China trade war and agreed to resume talks toward a deal that would meet the administration's demands to better protect USA technology. "It doesn't remove the uncertainty". The United States Federal Reserve is transmitting loud and clear that it intends to cut rates to support the U.S. and therefore global economy.

MSCI's broadest index of world stocks.MIWD00000PUS rose 0.37%, with U.S. equities touching record highs following the release of prepared remarks for Powell's testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee.

Lawmakers may also press Powell on the Fed's independence in light of repeated criticism from President Donald Trump.

"The Fed's consideration of rate cuts is not only about growth but also about inflation, which remains well below target, and inflation expectations, which were breaking to the downside before the Fed signalled the likelihood of cuts".

'The answer would be, 'No, " Powell said.

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He replied: "What I have said is the law gives me a four-year term and I fully intend to serve it".

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on Wednesday that Facebook's plan to build a digital currency called Libra "cannot go forward" until serious concerns were addressed.

According CNBC, Powell testified that "inflation has been running below the Federal Open Market Committee's symmetric 2 percent objective, and crosscurrents, such as trade tensions and concerns about global growth, have been weighing on economic activity and the outlook". "To me, it all depends on where you look in the economy".

Wall Street is all but certain that the end of the Federal Reserve's three-year hiking campaign is here.

South Korea edged up 0.4 per cent, but Japan's Nikkei lagged with a loss of 0.2 per cent. E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 dithered on either side of flat in very slow trade.

U.S. stock index futures gained early on Wednesday, turning positive after Powell's remarks were released, while the United States dollar fell against a basket of other currencies.

Government debt yields, which move inversely to prices, fell following Powell's testimony.

The FOMC minutes were published at the same time and most of the members thought that rising risks from global concern and flagging business confidence supported a rate cut, but that such a cut would "risk financial imbalances".

The Fed, which hiked rates four times past year, has kept its current benchmark overnight interest rate in a range of between 2.25 and 2.50 per cent since December.

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