Soggy US growth in the early months of the year has raised new questions over the next Federal Reserve interest rate rise as policymakers balance evidence of strong corporate hiring against softer activity and inflation numbers.
James Bullard, president of the St Louis Federal Reserve, said in an interview on Friday that weak first-quarter growth numbers were “somewhat concerning” and supported arguments for patience as the central bank assessed the pace at which it lifts rates.
He spoke a day after Dennis Lockhart, president of the Atlanta Fed, signalled he would no longer be pushing for an interest rate move this month as soft spending and price growth “gives me pause”.
Janet Yellen, Fed chair, last month sent a strong message that she wanted to proceed cautiously given the overseas risks confronting the central bank.
A rate move at the Fed’s April 26-27 meeting now appears to be off the table, and some analysts question whether the central bank will be ready to pull the trigger on a second rate increase as soon as June.