Kansas City Fed chief Esther George and Boston’s Eric Rosengren dissented against the reduction, as they did in July, preferring to keep rates unchanged. There was a new dissent by James Bullard of St. Louis, who preferred a half-point cut.

Powell’s committee is split between those who don’t think cuts are needed because domestic spending is solid and those worried by global weakness and inflation running persistently under their 2% goal.

“This statement seems carefully crafted to be silent on that question,” said David Wilcox, a former senior Fed economist and now at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “There is no clue here as to whether this is the end of the line.”

Fed officials also released new quarterly forecasts:

  • The median estimate saw the benchmark rate hold steady after today’s move at 1.9% and remain there until the end of 2020, then rise to 2.1% in 2021 and 2.4% in 2022. That’s just under the Fed’s longer-run “neutral’’ federal funds rate estimate, which was unchanged at 2.5%.
  • The unemployment rate was forecast to end this year about 3.7%, up a tenth from June, and finish 2020 at that level. The longer-run estimated jobless rate remained at 4.2%.
  • Participants continued to forecast that they wouldn’t reach their 2% inflation goal until 2021.

The Fed’s back-to-back rate cuts reverse the tightening last year and follow a wave of easing this year by other central banks. In addition to the ECB, some analysts expect the Bank of Japan to act at its meeting Thursday.

U.S. central bankers, who added the reference to exports, worry that uncertainty over trade is denting investment and could slow hiring. Private-sector job growth has slowed from last year.

At the same time, consumption -- which accounts for most of the economy -- appears strong with retail sales rising 0.4% in August and sentiment indicators relatively solid. Financial conditions have remained easy since the July meeting, although the dollar has resumed gains against major currencies.

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.

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