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Dennis Lockhart, the President of the Federal reserve Bank of Atlanta had last week suggested that September might be a viable time for the Fed to start scaling back the size of its monthly asset purchases. Those comments, along with similar remarks from several other members of the Fed, contributed to a fairly grim week for the US stock market, in which the Dow Jones and S&P 500 lost ground four out of the five trading sessions available. Although Mr Lockhart didn’t completely back down from those comments today, he did appear to rule out the idea of implementing a comprehensive plan for withdrawal from stimulus at next month’s FOMC meeting.
‘As I see it, a decision to proceed, whether it is in September, October, or December, ought to be thought of as a cautious first step,’ Lockhart said in a speech on the economic outlook at the Kiwanis Club in Atlanta.
‘The first adjustments to asset purchases, when they occur, should be the beginning of a process with steps that will be determined as later information arrives and certainty about the direction of the economy accumulates.’
Mr Lockhart pointed to the advances made in the jobs market, but was wary about the pace at which the US economy has been growing.
‘‘Recent data do not present a clear picture,’ he said. ‘Employment gains have been strong enough to lower the unemployment rate while GDP growth has remained lacklustre.’
Following these remarks the Dow was up 0.53% at 15,496, while the S&P 500 gained 0.43% to 16,96.5. Both indices had been trading down during the morning in New York.