'No' Jerome Powell won't resign

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Last month, President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed to 90-day ceasefire as a step toward defusing tensions.

Powell triggered an additional surge in the markets after he walked back the comment made in December that shook up investors and made him sound like his sole mission was to reduce the central bank's balance sheet.

Currently, the US inflation rate remains below what the Fed considers an optimal 2 percent level, meaning there is still space for economic expansion and workers are just beginning to benefit from the growth.

Trade uncertainty and concerns about global growth seem to be an important factor in the recent US weakness: tariff worries have surfaced repeatedly in Fed surveys.

"Particularly with the muted inflation readings that we've seen coming in, we will be patient as we watch to see how the economy evolves", Powell told the American Economic Association in Atlanta.

A strong jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics also likely quelled some fears that the U.S.is part of a broader economic deceleration. But some investors have anxious that that process could push long-term rates higher at a time when the economy was slowing.

Jerome Powell, chairman of the US Federal Reserve. The Fed said in December it anticipated raising rates twice in 2019.

Here's a run-down of the data that have - and haven't - changed since the Fed chief briefed the media on December 19 after policy makers raised rates and signaled two more hikes in 2019.

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While Trump has sent out a number of tweets criticizing Powell and calling the Fed the biggest threat to the economy, Powell said that he had not received any direct pressure from the White House.

Employment data showed the USA added 312,000 jobs in December, much above analyst expectations, strengthening the case of those who have argued that markets have overreacted to signs that U.S. growth may have peaked.

Asked if there were any plans to meet with Trump, he declined to give a specific answer, simply saying "I would say that meetings between presidents and Fed chairs do happen".

Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan said on Thursday that planned rate hikes should be halted for now, while on Friday Mester said she sees only one or two rate hikes this year. Asked on Friday whether he would resign if Trump requested it, Powell said: "No", adding there were no meetings scheduled between the two men. A third Fed president, Thomas Barkin of Richmond, said he is hearing more concerns about economic risks and trade.

"Everyone would be better off if it was clear that the Fed is making its decisions based on its mandate and on its assessment of the long-term needs of the economy, which I'm completely confident that they will do", Bernanke said.

Speaking after months of volatility in world bond and stock markets, Powell avoided some of the communication missteps that in the past have roiled rather than calmed investors.

"I'll just say that we are listening carefully to that., listening sensitively to the message that markets are sending, and we are going to be taking those downside risks into account as we make policy going forward".

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