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WRAPUP 1-Fed’s rate-cut confidence likely shaken but not yet broken by inflation

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Federal Reserve officials left their policy meeting in late January in search of “greater confidence” that inflation was on a sustainable downward path, a notably squishy standard they set for determining when the U.S. central bank might start cutting interest rates. Far from confidence, the issue they face in the two-day meeting that concludes on Wednesday is whether progress on inflation has flat out stalled and, if so, whether the Fed’s policy rate needs to stay in the current 5.00%-5.25% range longer than anyone – investors, consumers, politicians and U.S. central bank officials themselves – had expected. That range was set last July after a historic round of aggressive monetary tightening triggered by inflation surging to a 40-year peak.

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