Fed Chair Says He Won't Resign If President Trump Asks Him To

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US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has tried to reassure financial markets that rising interest rates were not locked in and reasserted the central bank's independence, saying he would not resign even if US President Donald Trump asked him to.

Appearing on a panel with his two predecessors - Yellen and Ben Bernanke - Powell also said that the Fed could alter its approach to trimming its huge balance sheet if it determines such a change is needed.

Powell, who was appointed by Trump, also said he had not received any direct word from the White House about his job performance, and that no meeting with the president had been scheduled.

"No", the Fed chief replied succinctly. Under the law that governs the Federal Reserve, a president can only remove a Fed chairman for cause.

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Mr Powell said that he did not believe the Fed's removal of stimulus by shrinking holdings of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities played a major role in the recent market turmoil.

Trump picked Powell to head the Fed in February.

United States media reported that Trump has been asking his advisers whether he could remove Powell from the post.

Mr Powell remained upbeat about U.S. economic prospects in the near future, pointing to the strong data - including a blockbuster jobs report for December released today - but noted financial markets were anxious about a slowdown in the United States and Chinese economies.

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The Labour Department reported Friday that United States employers added a net 312,000 new positions in December, smashing economists' expectations.

Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan said on Thursday that planned rate hikes should be halted for now, while on Friday Mester said she sees only one or two rate hikes this year. "But what I do know is that we will be prepared to adjust policy quickly and flexibly and to use all of our tools to support the economy should that be appropriate to keep the expansion on track".

Powell called the employment figures a "very strong report", though he showed no anxiety about the advance in wages. That suggests the Fed won't tighten again in March, she said.

"I'll just say that we are listening carefully to that ..., listening sensitively to the message that markets are sending, and we are going to be taking those downside risks into account as we make policy going forward".

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