October 4, 2019 / 4:48 PM / 12 days ago

Fed's Rosengren says U.S. jobs data suggests 'stable' economy

(Reuters) - Boston Federal Reserve Bank President Eric Rosengren, who opposed the U.S. central bank’s two interest-rate cuts this year, said Friday he is open minded on the path of policy but gave little hint he’s particularly worried about slowing growth.

“We’re getting to the point where we are getting about the kind of employment growth that I would expect in kind of a stable economy,” Rosengren told CNBC in an interview. “I think the bigger question is whether it ends up being weaker from here and that depends importantly on what happens on the consumer side of the economy.”

A Labor Department report Friday showed the unemployment rate fell to 3.5% last month as U.S. employers added 136,000 jobs, down from 168,000 jobs created in August but still plenty to keep up with labor market growth.

Rosengren said he is attentive to whether slowing global growth and trade tensions begin to have broader effects on the U.S economy, but that so far though tariffs and trade uncertainty has slowed exports and manufacturing, the consumer continues to buy goods, including cars.

“I still have an open mind,” he said. Fed policymakers next meet on Oct. 29-30, and financial markets are pricing in a third 2019 rate cut for that meeting.

“We still have more data between now and when the meeting actually occurs. I am going to be quite attentive to what’s happening with anything that indicates the consumer is changing their view,” Rosengren said, adding that a recent report showed spending on autos remained strong.

He repeated his concerns about companies piling on debt to take advantage of very low interest rates, a situation he worries could exacerbate the severity of any future downturn.

Reporting by Ann Saphir and Lindsay Dunsmuir, Editing by Franklin Paul and Andrea Ricci

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