Despite Trump criticism, Fed sees need for more rate hikes

Policy makers at the Federal Reserve remain focused on gradually raising interest rates in response to strength in the USA economy and low unemployment, according to minutes of their September meeting released Wednesday.

The discussion, revealed in minutes of the September 25-26 meeting released Wednesday, shows that a few participants believed that the Fed's key interest rate would need to "become modestly restrictive for a time" to guard against inflation climbing too high.

Still, a "couple" of participants said they would oppose this unless clear danger signs - an overheating economy and mounting inflation - were to arise.

Trump has repeatedly criticized the Fed for rate increases, ratcheting up his rhetoric in recent days.

Stepping up his attacks on the Federal Reserve, President Donald Trump declared Tuesday that the Fed is "my biggest threat" because he thinks it's raising interest rates too quickly.

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Furthermore, "some" at the meeting said risks grew as the U.S. economy increasingly outpaced its rivals" more sluggish growth "because of the potential for further strengthening of the dollar'. Analysts have pointed to rising interest rates, which can make stocks a less attractive investment.

The Fed has raised interest rates six times during the Trump administration, three of those times under current Fed chief Jerome Powell, who was nominated by Trump.

But, amid brisk American expansion, some Fed policymakers also warned of looming dangers to the world economy, such as the potential for a strengthening USA dollar and possible contagion from sputtering emerging markets, according to minutes from the Fed's most recent meeting three weeks ago. Then it's quiet until the Fed's Quarles speaks on the economic outlook in NY at 1615 GMT.

At its meeting on September 25 to September 26, the Fed also said it will raise rates in December, possibly three more times in 2019 and at least once in 2020. The 3 percent level is the point where officials believe Fed policy is neither boosting growth or holding it back. Right now, however, inflation rates are unusually low for an economy with such a low unemployment rate. The minutes noted that the tax cuts Trump had pushed through Congress late last year along with the spending increases Congress approved at the beginning of this year were boosting economic activity.

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