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Powell revives hike fears, says Fed not confident rates sufficiently restrictive -- Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday the Fed wasn't confident yet they had reached a sufficiently restrictive level on monetary policy to bring inflation down to target, suggesting further rate hikes cannot be ruled out. "The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is committed to achieving a stance of monetary policy that is sufficiently restrictive to bring inflation down to 2 percent over time; we are not confident that we have achieved such a stance," Powell said in opening remarks Thursday during a policy panel at the 24th Jacques Polak Annual Research Conference, hosted by the International Monetary Fund. The fed chief acknowledged that U.S. inflation had come down over the past year but said it remains "well above our 2 percent target," Powell said, but signaled the Fed is far from ready to accept that inflation is on a sustainable path lower. Inflation "has given us a few head fakes," he added. In a dent to recent optimism that the Fed is set to draw the curtain on its hiking cycle, Powell said that "if it becomes appropriate to tighten policy further, we will not hesitate to do so." The Fed chief, however, balanced his remarks by reiterating that the Fed would continue to "move carefully" on future policy decisions. A careful approach would allow the Fed to "address both the risk of being misled by a few good months of data, and the risk of overtightening," he added. The reminder that the Fed's hiking cycle remains alive forced traders to price in a further delay in rate cuts, with the first cut now expected in June next year compared with an earlier forecast for cuts to begin in May. Following the remarks, U.S. stocks took a leg lower as Treasury yields held onto their gains.

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