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Wall St stays lower after Fed holds rates steady

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US consumer spending flat for second month in March

Economists polled by Reuters expect US employers to have added 185,000 jobs in April, up from 98,000 in March.

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Following a two-day policy meeting, officials unanimously held their benchmark rate steady in a range between 0.75% and 1%, while noting in a statement that slow growth earlier this year was "likely to be transitory".

"We don't expect that will prevent the Fed from hiking interest rates again at the June meeting, at least not as long as employment growth rebounds in April and May", said Paul Ashworth, chief USA economist at Capital Economics in Toronto.

The FOMC said inflation "has been running close to the Committee's 2 percent longer-run objective".

Consumers continue to hunker down as well: The savings rate increased to the highest level since last August in April.

Going into Wednesday's meeting the markets were putting the chances of another quarter-point rate rise in the June 13th-14th meeting at more than 66 per cent, according to an analysis of futures trading from CME Group.

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Most economists say the Fed likely will stay the course and hike twice more this year, probably in June and September, despite a weak batch of economic indicators since it last raised rates in March.

"The stance of monetary policy remains accommodative, thereby supporting some further strengthening in labor market conditions and a sustained return to 2 percent inflation". Also, the recent French election put the centrist candidate in a good position to win in the final round, easing market fears over the ascendance of the far right anti-globalism candidate.

He said markets are now pricing a 70 percent chance of rate hike in June, which JP Morgan also expects. On Friday, the government estimated that the economy, as gauged by the gross domestic product, grew at a tepid 0.7 percent annual rate last quarter. But some Fed officials have portrayed the slump as transitory. Investors are attempting to gauge which uncertainties will be positive for economic growth and asset values and which uncertainties will be negative.

Statistics New Zealand reported on Wednesday that the number of employed people rose by 1.2% in the first quarter, beating expectations for a 0.8% gain and after an increase of 0.8% in the three months to December.

Headline inflation stood at 1.8 percent in March while the core measure, which excludes food and energy costs, was 1.6 percent.

According to the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the 3% economic growth can be attained in the next two years as U.S. President Donald Trump made promises to cut corporate taxes.

"Underlying growth in the first quarter appears firmer than headline GDP would suggest", the economists argued, pointing to declines in the March unemployment and underemployment rates. A deflationary drop of 0,2% is the sharpest since the first quarter of 2015.

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