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Given a chance to say that the Federal Reserve will keep its interest rate policy on hold through 2020, Fed chair Jerome Powell refused to take the bait at this morning’s testimony in front of the congressional Joint Economic Committee.  “We see the current stance of monetary policy as likely to remain appropriate as long as incoming information about the economy remains broadly consistent with our outlook,” Powell said.  “However, noteworthy risks to this outlook remain.”

Asked if he meant to signal that policy was on hold through next year, Powell responded “I wouldn’t say that at all” before repeating the line from his opening remarks on policy likely to remain appropriate as long as the economy stays on track.

Some bond traders and investors were apparently hoping that Powell would say that the current pause in interest rate moves would run for a while, but given the very slight reaction by the bond market, I’d guess that not many traders were living in that world. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which has been climbing lately as Treasury prices fell, moved down to 1.88%, a drop of 6 basis points, on Powell’s remarks. The yield on the 2-year Treasury fell to 1.63%.

Stocks marked time as Wall Street continued to try to figure out when/if a Part 1 trade deal with China might get signed. The Standard & Poor’s 500 was up 0.12% as of 3:30 p.m. New York time; the Dow Jones Industrial Average was higher by 0.37%. The NASDAQ Composite was flat for the day and the Russell 2000 small cap index fell 0.29%. The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM) was lower by a larger 0.85%.

Gold picked up a bit after recent selling with a gain of 0.70% to $1463.90 an ounce. Silver climbed 1.34% to $16.92 an ounce.

In the oil market U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate gained 0.79% to $57.25 a barrel. International benchmark Brent crude gained 0.73% to $62.51 a barrel.

The dollar gained with the Dollar Spot Index (DXY) up 0.04%