Well, yes. However, in the same speech, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell reminded investors "there is no preset policy path" for the Fed.
While he didn't comment directly on which way the Fed is leaning as far as December's meeting is concerned, market watchers zeroed in on his comment that rates "remain just below the broad range of estimates of the level that would be neutral for the economy".
Investors welcomed his remarks because they appeared to retreat from a comment he made in early October describing the Fed's benchmark rate as a "long way" from a neutral level - which implied to some listeners that Mr. Powell planned to keep raising rates for a while.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell opened the door for a potential pullback in projected interest-rate hikes for 2019 following a widely expected increase in December. Futures showed the amount of tightening priced in for 2019 slipped to 25 basis points - equivalent to just a single rate hike.
"The messaging from the USA over the last four weeks has been characteristically erratic", said David Page, senior economist at AXA Investment Managers.
Earlier in November, Powell was optimistic about the state of the economy, citing strong annual economic growth exceeding 3 percent and unemployment at a near five-decade low of 3.7 percent.
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Market reaction reflected investors' fears the Fed might end up making the kind of mistake Powell talked about - tightening policy too much because of a false read on where neutral is, at a time when clouds had begun to form on the economic horizon. He tried to dismiss as premature questions over whether the Fed would need to raise rates above neutral to a level aimed at slowing growth.
Minutes of the November 7-8 meeting of the Fed's rate-setting body, the Federal Open Markets Committee, show that officials expressed concerns about a variety of threats, including the impact of tariffs, a slowing global economy and tightening financial conditions amid falling stock prices.
Almost two months ago, Powell had said that rates were far from neutral. But turning to financial stability, the main topic of his speech, he added, "We know that things often turn out to be quite different from even the most careful forecasts". Home sales, vehicle sales, business investment and other parts of the economy that are sensitive to interest rates have begun to soften, evidence that the Fed's eight rate increases since 2015 are changing household and business behaviour. "As you get closer you tack a little bit more". "I think that's what we've been doing". Three of those increases have been under Powell.
In his speech, which was focused on the Fed's assessment of the health of the US financial system, Powell said it is "important to distinguish between market volatility and events that threaten financial stability".
Mr Powell said the Fed is paying "very close" attention to economic data even as it expects continued "solid" growth, low unemployment, and inflation near its 2 per cent target.
The Fed has been trying to strike a balance between not moving too fast and risking shortening the economy's longest running expansion versus not moving too slowly and risking the economy overheating.