Federal Reserve chair Jay Powell said the central bank is looking to take the “middle ground” on raising interest rates versus holding fire as the labour market continues to tighten despite underwhelming inflation growth.

Mr Powell was speaking at his first press conference since taking over leadership of the central bank from Janet Yellen earlier this year. The Fed raised the benchmark rate and stood by its projection of a total of three hikes in 2018, even as it pencilled in one extra increase for its 2019 forecast.

Some analysts had expected the Fed to signal a total of four increases in 2018 with economic growth continuing to gather momentum.

Mr Powell refused to be budged from the 2 per cent inflation target, saying that would continue to be the Fed’s goal even while balancing that against its mandate to support full employment.

In response to a question from the Financial Times, Mr Powell also said he was thinking about increasing the number of press conferences from his predecessor.

“That’s something I”m carefully considering,” he said.

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