Jan 30, 2019

2. Fed says it will be "patient" determining future rate hike decisions

Fed chair Jerome Powell speaks at the Economic Club of Washington earlier this month. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

As expected, the Federal Reserve announced on Wednesday that it would not raise interest rates, but policymakers changed the closely watched policy statement to reflect that the central bank is in "wait-and-see" mode as it considers future rate hikes.

Between the lines: The Fed has adopted a more dovish stance in recent months — amid market volatility, shaken confidence in the global economy and criticism from President Trump. In the policy statement, officials removed language that "some further gradual [rate] increases" were coming and added that it would be "patient" in determining rate adjustments.

The Fed also signaled more flexibility in its plans for shrinking its multitrillion-dollar balance sheet. In a statement, officials said the Fed is "prepared to adjust any of the details for completing balance sheet normalization in light of economic and financial developments."

  • Late last year, Trump tweeted that the Fed should "stop with the 50 B's," referring to the $50 billion maximum the Fed can shrink the balance sheet per month.

Go deeper: Jerome Powell's obsession with inflation and economic growth

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Global coronavirus cases spread as U.S. soldier tests positive in South Korea

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

A 23-year-old American soldier stationed at Camp Carroll in South Korea has tested positive to the novel coronavirus, as the outbreak spreads to more countries.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people and infected over 81,000 others. By Wednesday morning, South Korea had the most cases outside China, with 1,146 infections. Europe's biggest outbreak is in Italy, where 322 cases have been confirmed.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 26 mins ago - Health

In photos: How coronavirus is impacting cities around the world

Revellers take part in the "Plague Doctors Procession" in Venice on Tuesday night during the usual period of the Carnival festivities, most of which have been cancelled following the coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy. Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP via Getty Images

The novel coronavirus has spread from China to infect people in more than 40 countries and territories around the world, killing over 2,700 people.

The big picture: Most of the 80,000 COVID-19 infections have occurred in mainland China. But cases are starting to surge elsewhere. By Wednesday morning, the worst affected countries outside China were South Korea (1,146), where a U.S. soldier tested positive to the virus, Italy (332), Japan (170), Iran (95) and Singapore (91). Just Tuesday, new cases were confirmed in Switzerland, Croatia and Algeria.

See photosArrow3 hours ago - World

Debate night: Candidates' last face-off before Super Tuesday

Sanders, Biden, Klobuchar and Steyer in South Carolina on Feb. 25. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders wanted to keep his momentum after winning contests in New Hampshire and Nevada, while former Vice President Joe Biden hoped to keep his own campaign alive. The other five candidates were just trying to hang on.

What's happening: Seven contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination were in Charleston, South Carolina, for the tenth debate, just days before the South Carolina primary and a week before Super Tuesday. They spoke, sometimes over each other, about health care, Russian interference in the election, foreign policy the economy, gun control, marijuana, education, and race.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy