Wall Street seesaws higher after comments by US Fed chief

Is it time to invest in gold

US official warns of recession risk if interest rates go much higher

That means that far from inflation picking up speed, the rate of price increases is decelerating.

"Especially with inflation low and under control we have the ability to be patient and watch patiently and carefully as we. figure out which of these two narratives is going to be the story of 2019", Powell said when asked at the Economic Club of Washington about December forecasts from Fed policymakers showing they expect a median of two more rate hikes in 2019, after four a year ago. "The U.S. economy is solid and there's good momentum going into this year".

Powell, chairman of the US Federal Reserve (Fed), said on Thursday that the US economy would not fell into a recession this year, even though the projections of growth rate dropped.

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Asked what qualifies for "normal", Powell said "I don't know the exact level."He noted that the balance sheet has declined to about $4 trillion, but that before the 2008 crisis it was below $1 trillion".

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The us Central Bank, the Federal Reserve has pressed the pause button.

"It will be substantially smaller than it is now", Powell said.

While growth is widely expected to slow this year from last year's roughly 3% expansion, Mr. Clarida said that the economy will likely continue expanding faster than its long-term trend in 2019.

Mr. Clarida said monetary policy, after four rate increases a year ago, isn't on "preset course".

Powell also anxious about the lack of key economic statistics during the government shutdown that the Fed uses to take the temperature of the economy, such as retail sales and GDP growth.

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During an interview at The Economic Club of Washington, D.C., Powell said that continued shutdown stopped some of the data feed that the Fed needed, making the outlook of USA economy less clear, thus complicating policy-making.

Despite his largely upbeat view on the United States economy, and clear signals the Fed will be patient about raising interest rates any higher - statements that helped equities to recovery - markets focused on those two words.

The S&P 500 is up over 10 per cent from a 20-month low it touched around Christmas, lifted by hopes for a US-Chinese trade deal, which eased some worries over the impact of the dispute on global growth.

"Notwithstanding strong economic growth and a low unemployment rate, inflation has surprised to the downside recently, and it is not yet clear that inflation has moved back to 2 per cent on a sustainable basis, " Clarida said.

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