Clarksville, TN – Minutes of the September 20-21 policy meeting showed that Federal Open Market Committee members were divided on whether to raise short-term interest rates, and most of those voting to wait felt that it was “a close call.”
Financial markets have increasingly priced in a mid-December rate hike. Amid a thin economic calendar, investors focused on what’s happening in the rest of the world, but also reacted to the initial earnings reports for 3Q16.
Clarksville, TN – The economic data were mixed. The ISM surveys both surprised to the upside, suggesting that the August slowdown was temporary. Unit auto sales were down from a year ago, but up relative to August on a seasonally adjusted basis.
Nonfarm payrolls rose a bit less than expected, while the unemployment rate ticked modestly higher – the start of the school year makes the September figures suspect, but the underlying trends suggest further improvement in overall labor market conditions.
Clarksville, TN – The economic data were mixed. Consumer confidence rose in September. Durable goods orders were mixed. The estimate of 3Q16 GDP growth was revised higher (to a 1.4% annual rate, held back by a sharp slowing in inventory growth).
Personal income rose modestly in August, as expected, but spending was softer than anticipated, suggesting a possible loss of momentum following a strong spring and early summer (economists’ estimate of GDP growth were revised down for both 3Q16 and 4Q16).
Clarksville, TN – Fed Governor Lael Brainard, a dove, presented her case for why the central bank should delay an increase in short-term interest rates. While her views are her own (not representative of the Fed as a whole), a more hawkish tilt would have raised the odds of a September rate hike.
The key economic data reports were on the soft side of expectations, but were still consistent with moderate growth in the near term. Retail sales disappointed in August. Industrial production unwound a seasonal quirk that boosted July figures. CPI figures surprise slightly to the upside.
Clarksville, TN – The August Employment Report was a little light of expectations. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 151,000 (median forecast: +180,000), with a net revision to June and July of only -1,000. Private-sector payrolls rose by 126,000 – a +150,000 average over the last six months (vs. +221,000 in 2015 and +240,000 in 2014).
The unemployment rate held steady at 4.9% (vs. 5.1% a year ago). Average weekly hours fell (and hours for July were revised lower). Average hourly earnings rose just 0.1%, up 2.4% y/y.
Clarksville, TN – In her Jackson Hole speech, Fed Chair Janet Yellen was not expected to provide any significant clues about what will happen at the September 20-21 policy meeting.
Surprise! Yellen provided a strong hint that the central bank is a lot closer to raising short-term interest rates. Yellen said, “I believe the case for an increase in the federal funds rate has strengthened in recent months.” Take that in context with other evidence.
Clarksville, TN – The sixth-annual Sportsfest sponsored by Clarksville Parks and Recreation Department was held Saturday, August 20th at the Wilma Rudolph Event Center located within Liberty Park at 1188 Cumberland Drive.
Scores of families attended the display of sports groups’ information and numerous activities outdoors.
Clarksville, TN – The FOMC minutes (from the July 26th-27th policy meeting) showed that officials were divided on the timing of the next rate hike. Some felt that the labor market had already tightened enough and that the Fed risked generating financial excesses by keeping rates so low for so long.
Others felt that there was plenty of time to wait for more information and that it would be harder to correct course if the Fed moved too rapidly. Among voting FOMC members, the hawkish view (those wanting to raise rates sooner rather than later) appeared to be a minority.
Clarksville, TN – The economic data remained consistent with moderate economic growth and low inflation. Retail sales figures for July disappointed, coming in below expectations (but partly offset by upward revisions to June).
Preliminary productivity figures for the second quarter were weak (averaging a 0.5% annual rate over the last five years). Jobless claims remained very low. The Producer Price Index fell more than expected and pipeline pressures remained mild or slightly deflationary.
Clarksville, TN – As expected, the Federal Open Market Committee left short-term interest rates unchanged. In its policy statement, the FOMC noted that “on balance, payrolls and other labor market indicators point to some increase in labor utilization in recent months.”
More importantly, “near-term risks to the economic outlook have diminished.” Kansas City Fed President Esther George dissented in favor of raising the federal funds target range by 25 basis points (to 0.50% to 0.75%).
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