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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The New York Fed added $83.1 billion in temporary liquidity to financial markets Thursday, and the U.S. central bank looks primed to keep pumping cash for at least the next few months.

Why it matters: The stock market's 30% gain in 2019 was in no small part backed by the Fed's decision to cut U.S. interest rates three times and inject more than $1 trillion of temporary financing into the repo market. It also added more than $400 billion to its balance sheet in the fourth quarter.

What we're hearing: Fed vice chair Richard Clarida told an audience assembled at the Council on Foreign Relations Thursday that the Fed was prepared to continue adding to its balance sheet and providing liquidity to the repo market "at least through April."

  • Clarida told me after the event he was not concerned markets could be taking advantage of the so-called "Powell put" — the belief that the Fed and chair Jerome Powell are using the cash to stimulate the economy or that they will cut rates to juice the stock market if prices fall significantly.
  • "We realize that sometimes we’ll be criticized for it, but it’s not a factor driving our decisions," he said. "We have a very clear mandate, and are focused on what we need to do."

What they're saying: Clarida's speech was "music to the ears of traders and investors who have profitably ridden a liquidity-driven rally that has allowed them to quickly overcome a set of shocks, including the latest one, the sudden escalation of the U.S.-Iran conflict," Mohamed A. El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz SE, wrote in an opinion piece for Bloomberg.

What's next: While Clarida pointed to April because of Tax Day, analysts who watch the market closely expect the Fed to keep delivering cash for even longer.

  • Priya Misra, head of global rates strategy at TD Securities, a primary dealer that does business directly with the Fed, told Axios she expects the central bank to add $100 billion–$200 billion more in reserves and continue its Treasury bill buying through July to about $500 billion.
  • In a note to clients, she added that she expects the Fed's balance sheet to move above $4.4 trillion this year, near its all-time high.

Go deeper: The market will need the Fed again in 2020

Go deeper

Huge wildfire reaches edge of Sequoia National Park

A plume of smoke and flames rise into the air as the fire burns towards Moro Rock during the KNP Complex fire in the Sequoia National Park near Three Rivers, California, on Saturday. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Firefighters in Sequoia National Park were working into the night after two wildfires merged to reach the Giant Forest Saturday.

Why it matters: This forest contains over 2,000 giant sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree — considered the world's largest by volume. Park officials wrapped the trees in foil last week as the Paradise and Colony Fires, now known as the KNP Complex Fire, neared. And officials said early Sunday protection efforts appeared to be working.

3 hours ago - World

U.S. drone strike victims' families in Afghanistan seek compensation

A relative of Ezmarai Ahmadi, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike, looks at the wreckage of a vehicle that was damaged in the strike in the Kwaja Burga neighbourhood of Kabul on Saturday. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi AFP via Getty Images

Relatives of 10 Afghans killed by a U.S. drone strike in Kabul last month said Saturday they want to see punishment and compensation over the deaths.

Driving the news: The relatives said it's "good news" that the U.S. had "officially admitted" that "they had attacked innocents" in the Aug. 29 strike that killed Zamarai Ahmadi, an aid worker with a U.S.-based group, and nine family members, but they still need "justice," per AFP.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
6 hours ago - Science

All-civilian Inspiration4 is back on Earth after flight to space

A side-by-side of the Inspiration4 crew and a shot of their capsule on the way back to Earth. Photo: SpaceX

The all-civilian Inspiration4 crew is back on Earth after their three-day mission in orbit.

The big picture: The launch and landing of this fully amateur, private space crew marks a changing of the guard from spaceflight being a largely government-led venture to being under the purview of private companies.