Fed's Jerome Powell points to further gradual rate increases

Powell (above, in a file photo) was making his first speech on the economic outlook since assuming the Fed helm.
Powell (above, in a file photo) was making his first speech on the economic outlook since assuming the Fed helm.PHOTO: REUTERS

CHICAGO (REUTERS) - The Federal Reserve will likely need to keep raising interest rates to keep inflation under control, Fed chairman Jerome Powell said in a speech on the economic outlook that did not address the economic risks of rising trade tensions.

In his first speech on the economic outlook since assuming the helm at the US central bank on Feb 5, Powell said on Friday (April 6) the labour market appeared close to full employment and that inflation was poised to rebound in the coming months.

"As long as the economy continues broadly on its current path, further gradual increases in the federal funds rate will best promote these goals," Powell said at an event in Chicago.

Powell said the risks to the US economic outlook appeared "roughly balanced".

In his speech, he made no mention of rising trade tensions between Washington and Beijing in which each government is threatening to hike tariffs on tens of billions of dollars in bilateral trade.