A U.S. rate hike may come "fairly soon" if data confirm the economy is continuing to grow and labor markets are still tightening, Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell said on Thursday in remarks that may help tee up higher rates as soon as mid-June. Powell said the economy remains on a "solid footing" and that he views ongoing job growth and evidence of rising wages as being more important than recent weakness in consumer spending and business investment. "There are good reasons to think that underlying growth is stronger than these recent readings suggest," Powell said in prepared remarks to be delivered at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.
Eleven US states are suing the federal government over guidelines telling public schools to let transgender students use the bathroom of their choice, in a major challenge to the government's interpretation of anti-discrimination legislation. Wednesday's move led by Texas escalates a national feud over a lightning rod issue both for transgender people and for conservatives who see growing official acceptance of these rights as a threat. Writing to public school districts and universities on May 13, the US departments of Justice and Education set guidelines on creating a safe environment for transgender students.
South African wheat prices hit an all time high on Thursday as the market reacted to an expected 30 percent hike in import tariffs due to a weak rand and falling global prices. Africa's most industrialised economy is set to increase the tariff to 1,591.40 rand ($102.58) from 1,224.30 rand currently, according to a notice on the South African Grain Information Services website published on late on Wednesday. The expected tariff hike is based on a formula using current world wheat prices and rand expectations.