Donald Trump praises Treasury Secretary but hits Federal on rate rises

Vastavam web: President Donald Trump on Tuesday expressed confidence in Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin amid worries over a weakening economy and a stock market slump, but repeated his criticism of the U.S. Federal Reserve, saying it has raised interest rates too quickly. Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office after a Christmas video conference with U.S. troops deployed abroad, Trump also said U.S. companies were “the greatest in the world” and presented a “tremendous” buying opportunity.

The call did more to rattle markets than to assure them. All three major U.S. stock indexes ended down more than 2 percent on the day before the Christmas holiday. The S&P 500 has lost about 19.8 percent from its Sept. 20 closing high, just shy of the 20 percent threshold that commonly defines a bear market. Investors said his move to convene a call with the president’s Working Group on Financial Markets, known as the “Plunge Protection team,” may have weighed on sentiment.

U.S. stocks have dropped sharply in recent weeks on concerns over weaker economic growth. Trump has largely laid the blame for economic headwinds on the Fed, openly criticizing its chairman, Jerome Powell, whom he appointed. “They’re raising interest rates too fast because they think the economy is so good. But I think that they will get it pretty soon,” Trump said, repeating his criticism. On Monday, Trump said “The only problem our economy has is the Fed.”