Trump criticizes Powell as Fed chair testifies before Congress

President says Powell dragged down the Dow

President Trump took aim at Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, renewing his criticism of the head of the central bank as Powell testified before Congress on Tuesday.

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"When Jerome Powell started his testimony today, the Dow was up 125, & heading higher," Trump wrote in a tweet. "As he spoke it drifted steadily downward, as usual, and is now at -15. Germany & other countries get paid to borrow money. We are more prime, but Fed Rate is too high, Dollar tough on exports."

Powell was testifying before the House Financial Services Committee. Giving the Fed’s semiannual monetary report to Congress, Powell said Tuesday that the Fed is content with where interest rates are, suggesting that no further rate cuts are being contemplated unless economic conditions were to change significantly. Many analysts say the Fed could keep rates unchanged this year, although some think it will feel compelled to cut rates at least once.

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The central bank lowered the benchmark rate three times last year (after having raised it four times in 2018), though Trump wasn't satisfied, frequently saying the cut wasn't enough. The current rate is at a range between 1.5 percent and 1.75 percent.

Powell testifies before the House Committee on Financial Services Tuesday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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Meanwhile, Powell said Tuesday the Fed is monitoring developments stemming from the coronavirus, which he said "could lead to disruptions in China that spill over to the rest of the global economy."

In response to lawmakers' questions, Powell said it was too early to assess the threat the virus poses to the U.S. economy but he noted that the U.S. economy "is in a very good place" with strong job creation and moderate growth.

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Powell said there will be effects on China through the first half of this year and likely there will be some impact on the United States, but it’s too soon to say how adverse the U.S. impact will be.

“We will be watching that carefully. And the question we will be asking is will these be persistent effects that could lead to a material reassessment of the outlook’’ in the United States, Powell told the House committee.

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Trump similarly criticized Powell on Monday night during an interview with FOX Business’ Trish Regan, saying the Fed chair raised rates “too fast” and lowered “too slow.”

“With all of that, we’re still doing the best by far in the world,” Trump said. “But we could have been up substantially higher had he not done that.”

All three major U.S. indexes were positive in midday trade.

The Associated Press contributed to this report