MasterCard, the second-biggest U.S. payments network, posted fourth-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates as customers shopped more. Nonetheless, the Purchase, New York- based business is cautious about the first-quarter outlook.
“Any optimism that we have about the economy, however, will be tempered until we see what happens to consumer confidence and spending” as federal budget negotiations continue, Chief Executive Officer Ajay Banga said on a Jan. 31 conference call with analysts.
Elevated unemployment underscores the decision by Federal Reserve policy makers to keep purchasing securities at the rate of $85 billion a month after the economy “paused” because of temporary forces, the Federal Open Market Committee said in a Jan. 30 statement at the conclusion its meeting in Washington.
The Fed left unchanged its statement that it plans to hold its target interest rate near zero as long as unemployment remains above 6.5 percent and inflation remains no more than 2.5 percent.