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UPDATE 1-U.S. Senate panel backs Powell for Fed chief
December 5, 2017 / 3:34 PM / 8 days ago

UPDATE 1-U.S. Senate panel backs Powell for Fed chief

(Adds background, context)

WASHINGTON, Dec 5 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday voted to approve Fed Governor Jerome Powell to lead the Federal Reserve, sending his nomination to the full Senate for a vote.

The committee advanced his nomination by a vote of 22-1. All Republicans on the panel backed him as did 10 of the 11 Democrats, with the exception of Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Powell, 64, was nominated by President Donald Trump last month to head the U.S. central bank. The lawyer and investment banker has served on the Fed’s Board of Governors since 2012.

At his nomination hearing a week ago, Powell defended plans to potentially lighten regulation of the financial sector but skirted efforts by members of the banking committee to draw him into contentious debates on economic growth, immigration and productivity.

He is seen as a relatively uncontroversial pick to head up the world’s most powerful central bank as his stance on monetary policy appears mostly aligned with current Fed Chair Janet Yellen.

When it meets next week, the Fed is widely expected to raise interest rates for the third time this year as part of a tightening cycle that began in late 2015.

Another three rate rises are seen for next year, according to the latest median forecast of the Fed’s policymakers.

The U.S. economy is in its third longest period of expansion since World War Two and the unemployment rate is currently at 4.1 percent.

Policymakers next year will have to contend with the impact of tax cuts likely to be passed into law by the Republican-controlled Congress by the end of this year, which could result in a faster pace of monetary policy tightening.

Set against that are continuing worries about tepid inflation, which has prompted some policymakers to emphasize that interest rate increases should remain gradual.

Powell would be the first Fed chief since the late 1970s without an advanced degree in economics and if confirmed he will replace Yellen when her term expires on Feb. 3. (Reporting by Lindsay Dunsmuir; Editing by David Gregorio and Jeffrey Benkoe)

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