Washington — US central bankers could place interest rates on hold until end-March or longer as they wait for clarity on risks to global growth that could affect the US economy. That’s the signal from recent comments by US Federal Reserve officials, reinforced by minutes of their December 18-19 meeting on Wednesday that showed many policy makers felt the central bank “could afford to be patient about further policy-firming”. Investors will get another update when chair Jerome Powell speaks in Washington at 12pm local time. “The message I am getting from Fed speakers is, ‘Our outlook is strong but in the near term we are going to wait for greater clarity and make sure the economy is on a sound footing before moving’,’’ said Laura Rosner, senior economist at MacroPolicy Perspectives. “They have been consistent and clear about the pause.’’ Central bankers raised the benchmark lending rate last month and said some “some further gradual increases’’ would be consistent with continued grow...

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