Trump says China, EU "manipulating their currencies" -- and US dollar hit

Trump MAGA hat

For his part, Trump said he was ready to impose tariffs on an additional $500 billion of imports from China, threatening to escalate the current trade clash with the Asian nation and sending financial markets downward.

Later, the White House said in a statement that Trump respects the Fed's independence and was not interfering with its policy decisions.

"The president's comments may skew the committee in a hawkish direction", Michael Feroli, chief USA economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co, wrote in a note to clients following Trump's criticism of the central bank in an interview on CNBC.

Trump also said Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, whom he nominated, is "a very good man".

So far, the US has put tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods.

China imports far less from the USA, buying about US$130 billion in American goods past year, so it doesn't have as much to leverage with tariffs, but it could use other measures to hit trade such as tightening regulatory oversight. Fed officials have penciled in two more hikes this year.

USA companies may find themselves less able to compete globally as import tariffs contribute to rising input costs, forcing them to raise prices or lower their profit margins.

But in decades past, the Fed was sometimes cajoled by the White House to keep a lid on interest rates. "I really like President Xi (Jinping) a lot".

The dollar dropped against the euro as comments by US President Donald Trump risked ratcheting up trade war tensions, while stocks diverged.

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Last month, the Fed raised its benchmark rate for a second time this year and projected two more increases in 2018.

"The [Fed's policy] committee has a mandate to keep inflation low and stable and obtain maximum employment for the U.S. economy, so people can comment, including the president and other politicians, but it's up to the committee to try to take the best action we can to achieve those objectives", St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard said Friday.

"The Fed should be independent but that independence does not mean that is an institution outside of the government of the United States", said Mark Grant, managing director at money managing firm B. Riley FBR Inc.

The Federal Reserve did not immediately respond to a request for comment. "We do our work in a strictly nonpolitical way, based on detailed analysis, which we put on the record transparently".

Speaking about Fed policy in his interview with CNBC, Trump said he is "letting them do what they feel is best".

His comments drew concern that Trump was trying to put political pressure on the Fed.

"This is such a risky thing for the Fed, and for the president, and for central bank independence", said Peter Conti-Brown, a Fed historian at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.

"Given what we know about Powell, we see little chance the President has gotten in his head", Feroli wrote in a note to clients.

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