Jerome Powell. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Xinhua via Getty

The Federal Reserve said on Wednesday that interest rates would remain between the target range of 1.5% and 1.75%.

Why it matters: Fed chair Jerome Powell said developments in the global economy since the last Fed meeting — namely threats posed by the coronavirus outbreak — have not changed the central bank's wait-and-see approach.

What he's saying: "It’s very uncertain ... how far [the coronavirus] will spread and what the macroeconomic effects will be," Powell told reporters at a press conference.

  • Companies are closing China-based stores, while automakers are extending factory closures in China in response to the outbreak. Powell noted there will be "implications in the near-term" for China's economy.

The big picture: As risks like Brexit and a full-on trade war have abated, Powell said there is room for "cautious optimism about outlook for the global economy."

  • In its closely watched policy statement, the Fed downgraded its characterization of U.S. consumer spending to "moderate" from "strong." Powell remained optimistic about the labor market, which has continued to pump out consistent job gains.

What's new: The Fed also announced it would continue to intervene with cash injections "at least through April" to prevent any flubs in money markets.

  • Market-watchers have cited these moves, along with the Fed's Treasury-bill purchases, as a key reason for the stock market's strength.
  • Powell said "many things affect markets," but the Fed's intention with the current program is more technical and not meant to provide stimulus.

The bottom line: The Fed is confident the economy is in a good place. Powell hinted that the current interest rate level is here to stay and only a drastic shift in economic conditions would change that view.

  • This is despite pressure from President Trump, who this week continued attempts to goad the Federal Reserve into further lowering rates.

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33 mins ago - Health

239 scientists call on WHO to recognize coronavirus as airborne

People walk at the boardwalk in Venice Beach. Photo: Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images

A group of 239 scientists in 32 countries is calling for the World Health Organization to revise its recommendations to account for airborne transmission as a significant factor in how the coronavirus spreads, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: The WHO has said the virus mainly spreads via large respiratory droplets that fall to the ground once they've been discharged in coughs and sneezes. But the scientists say evidence shows the virus can spread from smaller particles that linger in air indoors.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 11,294,859 — Total deaths: 531,419 — Total recoveries — 6,078,552Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 2,839,917 — Total deaths: 129,676 — Total recoveries: 894,325 — Total tested: 34,858,427Map.
  3. States: Photos of America's pandemic July 4 ICU beds in Arizona hot spot near capacity.
  4. Public health: U.S. coronavirus infections hit record highs for 3 straight days.
  5. Politics: Trump extends PPP application deadlineKimberly Guilfoyle tests positive.
  6. World: Mexican leaders call for tighter border control as infections rise in U.S.
  7. Sports: 31 MLB players test positive as workouts resume.
  8. 1 📽 thing: Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback.

Protesters toss Columbus statue into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor

Christopher Columbus statue in Columbus Piazza in Little Italy on April 9, 2015 in Baltimore. Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Protesters in Baltimore on Saturday toppled a statue of Christopher Columbus and tossed it into the city's Inner Harbor, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Why it matters: It's the latest monument toppled by demonstrators during the protests against racism and police brutality. Statues of Confederate soldiers and slave owners have been a flashpoint in the protests.