U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaks during a press conference in Washington D.C., the United States, on Jan. 29, 2020. The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday left interest rates unchanged and maintained a wait-and-see stance after wrapping up its first monetary policy meeting of 2020. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)
WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday left interest rates unchanged and maintained a wait-and-see stance after wrapping up its first monetary policy meeting of 2020.
"The Committee judges that the current stance of monetary policy is appropriate to support sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions, and inflation returning to the Committee's symmetric 2 percent objective," the Fed said in a statement after the meeting, referring to the central bank's policy-making committee.
The Fed noted that U.S. economic activity has been rising at a "moderate rate" since the last meeting in December with household spending rising at a "moderate pace," while business fixed investment and exports "remain weak."
"The Committee will continue to monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook, including global developments and muted inflation pressures, as it assesses the appropriate path of the target range for the federal funds rate," the Fed said.
At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said that some of the uncertainties around trade "have diminished recently" and there are some signs that global growth "may be stabilizing" after declining since mid-2018.
"A sustained reduction in uncertainty over time should improve business sentiment and investment, which would provide additional support for the economy," Powell said, adding that trade policy uncertainty remains elevated and businesses continue to identify it as an ongoing risk.
Powell also said that the central bank is carefully monitoring the situation of the new coronavirus outbreak and it's too early to say what the effects will be.
The Fed's wait-and-see policy stance was in line with market expectations. In recent weeks, Fed officials have publicly expressed their satisfaction with the current level of interest rates, signaling no change in rates anytime soon.
"I don't think we should be making any moves at this point on the fed funds rate," Robert Kaplan, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, told CNBC in an interview earlier this month.
His comments were echoed by Charles Evans, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, who predicted that the Fed could go through the entire year without rate changes.
The Fed lowered rates three times in 2019, amid growing uncertainty stemming from trade tensions, weakness in global growth and muted inflation pressures. These policy adjustments put the current federal funds rate target range at 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent.