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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.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Biden taps Brian Deese to lead National Economic Council

Brian Deese (L) in 2015 with special envoy for climate change Todd Stern (C) and Secretary of State John Kerry (R). Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden announced Thursday that he has selected Brian Deese, a former Obama climate aide and head of sustainable investing at BlackRock, to serve as director of the National Economic Council.

Why it matters: The influential position does not require Senate confirmation, but Deese's time working for BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager and an investor in fossil fuels, has made him a target of criticism from progressives.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
26 mins ago - Economy & Business

The places regulation does not reach

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Financial regulation is not exactly simple anywhere in the world. But one country stands out for the sheer amount of complexity and confusion in its regulatory regime — the U.S.

Why it matters: Important companies fall through the cracks, largely unregulated, while others contend with a vast array of regulatory bodies, none of which are remotely predictable.

1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Boeing gets huge 737 Max order from Ryanair, boosting hope for quick rebound

Ryanair low cost airline Boeing 737-800 aircraft as seen over the runway. Photo by Nik Oiko/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Dublin-based Ryanair said it would add 75 more planes to an existing order for Boeing's 737 Max airplanes, a giant vote of confidence as Boeing seeks to revive sales of its best-selling plane after a 20-month safety ban following two fatal crashes.

The big picture: Ryanair's big order, on the heels of breakthrough vaccine news, is also a promising sign that the devastated airline industry might recover from the global pandemic sooner than expected.