Tess Torelli April 11, 2018

One exception to the optimism came from the threat of a trade war.

The U.S. and China have conducted a back-and-forth volley of tariff threats, and the prospect of it escalating has been wearing on the American business and investing communities.

“Participants did not see the steel and aluminum tariffs, by themselves, as likely to have a significant effect on the national economic outlook, but a strong majority of participants viewed the prospect of retaliatory trade actions by other countries, as well as other issues and uncertainties associated with trade policies, as downside risks for the U.S. economy,” the minutes stated.

Members, however, judged that even with the trade uncertainty, most other signs in the economy looked solid.

They saw the labor market continuing to strengthen, and reported that there were areas that reported pay gains, though wage inflation remained fairly muted.

Generally speaking, members said they expect inflation to rise to the Fed’s 2 percent target. They particularly expected March’s year-over-year numbers to be strong, given that an unexpected decline in prices for cellphone service held back inflation in the early part of 2017.

The consumer price index saw headline inflation up 2.4 percent in March, the highest pace in a year, while the core reading that excludes food and energy prices was up 2.1 percent, the highest since February 2017. The CPI data were released Wednesday.

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