Fed chief says coronavirus surge slowing US economic recovery

first_imgPowell’s comments, made via videoconference after the Fed announced its policy decision to leave interest rates near zero, suggest dimming hopes for a quick economic rebound. Coronavirus infections have exploded in a number of Southern and Southwestern states in recent weeks, and some states have paused or rolled back reopening measures.The Fed’s policy statement, released at the close of its two-day meeting, directly tied the economic recovery to resolution of a health crisis whose direction remains much in doubt. More than 150,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.“The path of the economy will depend significantly on the course of the virus,” the central bank’s policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) said.In his news conference, Powell elaborated on just how much remained unclear about the direction of the world’s largest economy. Fiscal programs that he credits with sustaining consumer spending in recent weeks are about to expire, with debate still under way in Congress over what, if anything, will take their place. The surge in US coronavirus cases is beginning to weigh on economic activity, the head of the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday, and he promised the US central bank would “do what we can, and for as long as it takes,” to limit damage and boost growth.“It looks like the data are pointing to a slowing in the pace of the recovery,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said at a news conference, pointing to an apparent pullback by consumers and a slowdown in the rehiring of furloughed workers, particularly by small businesses.The United States, he said, “has entered a new phase in containing the virus, which is essential to protect both our health and our economy.” The virus is moving so fast that policymakers are taking cues about the economy from real-time flows of data from firms that track people’s movements through cellphones, for example, or provide signals about hiring, Powell said.“That data show that on balance … the pace of the recovery looks like it has slowed since cases began that spike,” he said. “I want to stress,” he added, “it’s too early to say both how large that is and how sustained that is.”The Fed held policy largely steady, with key decisions likely to come this fall after it is clearer where the health crisis is heading and just what action Congress takes to support struggling businesses and unemployed workers.Fed policymakers repeated a pledge to use their “full range of tools” to support the economy and keep interest rates near zero for as long as it takes to recover from the epidemic.All FOMC members voted to leave the target range for short-term rates between 0 percent and 0.25 percent, where it has been since March 15 when the virus was beginning to hit the nation.“We are not even thinking about thinking about thinking about raising rates,” Powell said, noting the economic recovery will take a long time because millions of people working in heavily affected industries like hotels or restaurants won’t have jobs to go back to any time soon. “We are in this until we are well through it.”US stocks added to gains after the Fed’s statement, while longer-term US Treasury yields moved slightly higher. The dollar fell to a two-year low against a basket of currencies.“The most notable thing is the statement that the path of the economy will depend on COVID-19. The Fed is putting health again front and center in its statement, which is impactful and meaningful,” said Nela Richardson, investment strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis.“It’s a bit ominous, to be frank. … That sentence shows the primacy of COVID-19 in their outlook and the uncertainty of their outlook because of it,” Richardson said.No change for nowIf official economic data backs up early indications of a decline in growth, the Fed could ease policy further, Powell signaled, including by potentially promising no changes to interest rates until unemployment and inflation rates meet explicit benchmarks.A government report due out Thursday is expected to show a record 34 percent drop in annualized economic output last quarter.Since the Fed’s last policy meeting in June, the epidemic has intensified, with an average of around 65,000 new cases detected each day, about three times the pace of mid-June.Job growth, which had been unexpectedly strong in May and June, now appears to be slowing and consumer confidence has taken a hit.Government aid that kept millions of unemployed Americans spending will drop sharply at the end of this week unless Congress agrees on a new relief package, with Republicans and Democrats so far not able to bridge their differences.Small businesses, a mainstay of the US economy, are increasingly facing a breaking point as government grants run dry and payments come due.Topics :last_img read more

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Take a Walk on the Wild Side in Oman

first_imgTake a Walk on the Wild Side in OmanIntrepid travellers with a sense of adventure need look no further than Oman to satisfy the next adrenalin rush.  No other Gulf region offers such a diverse range of great outdoor adventures across a striking terrain that travels back 500 million years of geological time.Mona Tannous Country Manager for Sultanate of Oman Tourism Australia and New Zealand said “In some international markets Oman is known as a mid to high end coastal destination with spectacular beaches and desert experiences but as a part of our current campaign we want to show Australian travellers the awesome outdoor adventure options Oman has to offer.“With dramatic canyons and caves, soaring mountain peaks, cool wadis and coastline, cascading waterfalls and endless miles of rocky wilderness there is enough to satisfy everyone from outdoor enthusiasts to extreme adventurers.” continued Ms Tannous.Adventure World in conjunction with Oman Tourism are giving two lucky people the chance to win an Oman Adventure as part of the current ‘Secrets of Oman” campaign. To whet your appetite, here are 6 ways to bring out your adventurous side in Oman;Desert Dune Bashing Huge rolling dunes as far as the eye can see makes for a white knuckle ride dune bashing in 4WD’s at Shaqiya Sands- less than 3 hours from Muscat. Take a quad bike or camel over the dunes and watch the world turn pink and orange with a spectacular desert sun set.  Accommodation here varies from luxury tented camp to more basic options but either way you will relish the time under a thousand stars of the desert night sky.Caves and CanyonsFor those who like their adventure on the extreme side, the thrill of rock-climbing and abseiling awaits. Climbers from around the globe are drawn to the high peaks of the Hajar mountains, and to the beautiful sea cliffs along the Omani coast.First-time climbers can attempt one of several Via Ferrata (‘by wire’) routes which keep them permanently attached to a cable via a harness for maximum safety at Snake Canyon, Jabel Shams and Jabal Akhdar.Take a HikeThe challenging terrain of Oman’s ‘Sun Mountain’, Jabal Shams – standing 3009 metres above sea level as the country’s highest mountain peak – is a perfect place to start an adventure tour.  Sprinkled with juniper and olive trees, the mountains offer plenty of gruelling treks and picturesque vistas along with paths that traverse the ancient Bedouin and Shihuh trails – some of which are located on the very edge of the cliffs and are used by remote communities today.Wadi BashGo off-road and experience one of Oman’s fastest growing adventure sports. Throughout the Sultanate there are many opportunities for travellers to hit the dirt, water and sand dunes in a 4 x 4 wheel drive. And never is off-road driving more popular than when the wadis are awash with lush vegetation and rushing waters after the rain.Snorkel and ScubaOman’s magnificent marine environment draws in adventurous travellers with the opportunity to snorkel, scuba dive and kayak in sparkling turquoise waters that support vibrant coral reefs. In stark contrast to its arid interior, Oman’s waters are teeming with life – turtles, dolphins and whale sharks are all regularly sighted by visitors.Get AirborneKitesurfing is one of the fastest growing and extreme water sports to be enjoyed in the Gulf’s warm waters and Masirah Island has the only kitesurfing academy in the Gulf where you can camp out on the island in Bedouin style tents.Undisturbed by human influence, this island is a sanctuary for flamingos in their natural habitat and is the world’s second-largest breeding ground for sea turtles.For a chance to win the ultimate Omani adventure along with a $2000 travel card from Mastercard Cash Passport, one year’s subscription to Get Lost Magazine and the latest in outdoor wear from clothing company Jack Wolfskin go to www.secretsofoman.com.auSource = Oman Tourismlast_img read more

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