U.S. Markets

Trump likely to pick Fed's Powell to lead central bank: source

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump is likely to pick Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell as the next head of the U.S. central bank, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday, prompting investors to push down yields on Treasury notes.

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The Republican president, who is considering Powell, current Fed Chair Janet Yellen and three others for the top central bank job, will announce his decision on Thursday, a White House official said separately.

By picking Powell, a soft-spoken centrist and Fed governor since 2012, Trump would get the combination of a leadership change and the continuity offered by somebody who has been a part of the Yellen-run Fed that has kept the economy and markets steady in recent years.

Powell, 64, has supported Yellen’s general direction in setting monetary policy, and in recent years has shared her concerns that weak inflation justified a continued cautious approach to raising interest rates.

“Powell has not offended people, and that’s a huge advantage in Washington. He’s the kind of guy who can get through Senate confirmation, and this administration has so many other problems to deal with,” said John Silva, chief economist at Wells Fargo.

The main challenger to Powell is Stanford University economist John Taylor, a favorite of conservative Republicans who believe monetary policy has been too loose under Yellen and want the central bank to rely more on rules when setting rates.

Taylor has spent the last two decades refining and pushing for wider use of a rule that sets out where rates should be, given certain conditions of inflation and the broader economy. His rule implies they should be higher than they are now.

Critics say that a Taylor-run Fed would run the risk of tightening monetary policy too fast and choking off the recovery from the 2007-2009 financial crisis and recession.

The race for the Fed job has shifted between Yellen, who was nominated by former President Barack Obama to a one-year term in 2014, Powell and Taylor in recent weeks. Financial markets had pushed Treasury yields higher on talk Taylor would get the job.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes US10YT=RR were yielding 2.37 percent in mid-afternoon trading on Monday, down from 2.43 percent on Friday.

The Fed, which is holding a two-day policy meeting this week, has lifted rates twice this year and is expected to do so again in December.

Reporting by Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Jonathan Spicer in New York; Editing by David Chance and Paul Simao