Fed Chair Powell's take on economy is awaited as risks loom

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The wider point is that markets may be overanalysing yesterday's comments, given that Trump also criticised the Chinese central bank as well as the European Central Bank for keeping their currencies artificially weak, and what he said isn't exactly new.

The EIA cut its 2018 USA crude production growth forecast on August 7 to 10.68 million barrels per day (bpd) from 10.79 million bpd amid lower crude prices.

Federal Reserve officials discussed raising interest rates soon to counter excessive economic strength but also examined how global trade disputes could batter businesses and households, minutes of the USA central bank's last policy meeting showed. In Asian trade, it was steady at US$1.1572 from its NY close. That has made the dollar stronger, making imports cheaper and exports more expensive - frustrating the president as he tries to win a global trade war.

Wall Street analysts near universally expect the Fed will raise rates at its next meeting at the end of September.

In minutes of its most recent meeting, released Wednesday, central bankers warned that a "major escalation" of trade disputes could speed inflation and cause businesses to pull back on investment.

"It's risk-on (with) higher stocks", said Mary Ann Hurley, vice president in fixed-income trading at D.A. Davidson in Seattle, adding that "the big thing of the week is going to be Jerome Powell's comments on Friday".

Trump says the economy's health proves that his tax cuts, deregulation and insistence on more favorable trade deals are helping produce "amazing" growth that he insists will only strengthen further.

The independence of the Federal Reserve is vital to the functioning of a healthy economy.

Hartford Financial dropped 4.1 percent after the insurer said it will buy Navigators Group in a $2.1 billion.

The Federal Reserve operates independently of the government, as it is sometimes compelled to make interest-rate decisions that are meant to be good for the economy in the long run but that may be politically unpopular.

The Fed has been carefully and gradually raising rates over the past several years to keep inflation in check and to prevent the economy from overheating.

Trump claimed during his speech that Powell is a fan of "cheap money" yet continues to raise rates.

His comments dented some of the market optimism ahead of lower-level trade talks between the US and China starting later today.

The Australian dollar dipped 0.2 per cent to US$0.7353 after advancing 0.4 per cent overnight on the back of the dollar's broad weakness.

Elsewhere, platinum rose 0.5 percent to $797.50 an ounce, having touched its highest in a week. While the Fed is an independent institution there are concerns that Trump could promote more dovish Governors to the four empty seats at the Fed.

"Powell has set a course for the Fed, and he is going to stay on that course unless economic conditions change dramatically", said David Jones, the author of several books on the history of the Fed.

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