May 22, 2019

Fed: No plans to raise rates even if economy improves

Fed chairman Jerome Powell speaks at a press conference in May. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The Federal Reserve plans to remain "patient" in determining future moves in interest rates, even if "global economic and financial conditions continued to improve," according to minutes released Wednesday of the Fed's most recent meeting. They did not raise or lower interest rates at that meeting, despite pressure from President Trump to lower them.

Why it matters: The U.S. economy has been humming along — with solid job gains, low unemployment and receding "uncertainties affecting the U.S. and global economic outlooks," per the meeting minutes — but the market is still betting that the central bank will move to cut rates before the end of the year, not raise them. The bets have grown with low inflation readings below the Fed's 2% target. But Fed officials noted "muted inflation pressures" as one of the reasons a patient approach will be appropriate "for some time."

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Coronavirus kills 2 Diamond Princess passengers and South Korea sees first death

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. U.S. numbers include Americans extracted from Princess Cruise ship.

Two elderly Diamond Princess passengers have been killed by the novel coronavirus — the first deaths confirmed among the more than 600 infected aboard the cruise ship. South Korea also announced its first death Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,200 people and infected over 75,465 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 118 new deaths since Thursday.

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SoftBank to cut its stake to get T-Mobile's Sprint deal done

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

T-Mobile and Sprint announced a revised merger agreement that will see SoftBank getting a smaller share of the combined company, while most shareholders will receive the previously agreed upon exchange rate. The companies said they hope to get the deal as early as April 1.

Why it matters: The amended deal reflects the decline in Sprint's business, while leaving most shareholders' stake intact and removing another hurdle to the deal's closure.