No related posts. By Paul Handley | AFPWASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Federal Reserve kept its easy monetary policies in place Wednesday, saying high unemployment and the government’s sharp spending cuts remain barriers to full recovery from the 2008 crash.The Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed’s policy board, said after a two-day meeting that U.S. economic growth had rebounded from the flat 2012 fourth quarter to a moderate pace in recent months.But with Europe in fresh turmoil and the U.S. government slashing spending to close the fiscal deficit, the FOMC trimmed its 2013 and 2014 economic growth forecasts.The FOMC acknowledged an improvement in the jobs market, and cut its projected unemployment rate to 6.7-7.0 percent by the end of 2014.But Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the FOMC still saw risks for the economy.The committee “remains concerned that restrictive fiscal policies may slow economic growth and job creation in coming months,” he said at a news conference after the meeting, referring to the U.S. government’s “sequester” budget cuts that began on March 1.In addition, he said, “at 7.7 percent, the unemployment rate remains elevated.”He noted that higher taxes from the beginning of the year and various measures to cut spending will reduce some 1.5 percentage points from growth this year, “which, of course, is very significant. … So that is an issue for us.”As expected, the FOMC left in place its ultra-low benchmark interest rate of 0-0.25 percent and its quantitative easing (QE) program of $85 billion a month in bond purchases, which aims at holding down longer-term interest rates.Bernanke has repeatedly said in recent months that as long as inflation remains low and unemployment is high, the Fed needs to continue to support growth.Despite some discussion in the FOMC’s January meeting that the QE program is increasingly risky for monetary management, Bernanke said most FOMC members had agreed that the bond purchases “continue to provide meaningful support to economic growth and job creation.”“I think it’s very, very important that we act to address unemployment,” he told reporters.Concerns over whether the prolonged low-rate policy was generating risky behavior again in financial markets “remain manageable,” he said.But he stressed that the FOMC could reel in the asset purchases in the future if conditions changed.“At this meeting, the committee judged that no adjustment was warranted,” he said.Asked about the soaring U.S. stock markets, he said, “We don’t see at this point anything that’s out of line with historical patterns.”The FOMC marginally cut its December growth forecast to 2.3-2.8 percent for this year and 2.9-3.4 percent in 2014.With the outlook for inflation also still low – 1.7 percent at most this year and 2.0 percent at most in 2014 – most FOMC members expected to keep the benchmark interest rate unchanged until 2015.Bernanke meanwhile said the U.S. economy and financial sector were not currently at danger from the crisis in Cyprus, which has sent shivers through the European economy.“At this point we are not seeing a major risk to the U.S. financial system or the U.S. economy,” he said.“There are a lot of uncertainties and difficulties” for Cyprus, he said, after the 10 billion euro ($13 billion) EU-IMF bailout of the island country was left hanging due to the parliament’s rejection of a heavy tax on bank deposits that was a key part of the deal.However, “I don’t think the impact has been enormous” on markets overall, he said, pointing to the rebound Wednesday in U.S. and European markets. Facebook Comments
Qatar Airways is rolling out a bespoke service for its premium class passengers, giving them even more choice and freedom to create a personalised dining experience every time they travel on long-haul flights from Doha.The new Pre-Select Dining service is being introduced on selected flights to Europe, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand.Passengers travelling in First and Business Class will have the opportunity to pre-select one main course from the à la carte onboard menu, as far as 14 days in advance and up to 24 hours before take-off. This is in addition to the existing and exemplary Dining-on-Demand service already available for valued First and Business Class passengers.To pre-select a premium class meal, customers log into ‘My Trips’ on the Qatar Airways website and choose from the seasonal menu available on their flight. Meals can also be ordered through the Qatar Airways mobile app.Qatar Airways group chief executive, His Excellency Mr Akbar Al Baker said: “We are constantly looking for innovative ways to refine and enhance our products and services. Giving our premium passengers the opportunity to pre-select their meals before they fly is another example of our unrivalled onboard experience.“Our new Pre-Select Dining service follows the introduction of our groundbreaking Business Class seat, Qsuite, earlier this year, which reinforces why Qatar AIrways was recognised as the World’s Best Business Class at this year’s 2017 Skytrax awards. We were also delighted to be named Airline of the Year for the fourth time, encouraging us to continue innovating to offer our unparalleled five-star service.”The new Pre-Select Dining menu option will take Qatar Airways’ already renowned level of personalised service to new heights and complement the airline’s recently launched new Business Class experience. Premium passengers will now be able to board their flight in the comfort and knowledge that their pre-selected dish is reserved and waiting for them whenever they are ready to dine, giving them more time to relax and enjoy the airline’s superior onboard entertainment and amenities.Launching on flights departing from Doha, Qatar Airways plans to extend premium Pre-Select Dining to other regions later this year. As well as enjoying unrivalled five-star service, premium customers can also be pampered with amenities from world-class brands such as BRIC’S, Nappa Dori, Monte Vibiano and The White Company. Meanwhile all passengers have access to Oryx One, Qatar Airways’ award-winning inflight entertainment system which offers passengers up to 4000 entertainment options.Qatar Airways operates a modern fleet of 200 aircraft to a network of more than 150 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.The airline is launching 26 exciting new destinations around the world between now and the end of 2018, including Chiang Mai, Thailand; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; San Francisco, US; and Santiago, Chile, to name a few.Multi-award-winning Qatar Airways was this year awarded Airline of the Year by the prestigious 2017 Skytrax World Airline Awards, the fourth time it has won this global accolade. Qatar’s national carrier also clinched Best Airline in the Middle East, World’s Best Business Class and World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge.