Topic: Federal Open Market Committee
Clarksville, TN – The stock market’s anxieties about oil prices, the Fed, and the rest of the world gave way to a renewed sense of optimism (or at least less pessimism).
Heading into the Federal Open Market Committee meeting, the key question was whether it would abandon the “considerable time” phrase. The FOMC had it both ways, removing the phrase, saying instead that it could “be patient” in deciding when to begin normalizing policy, but quickly adding that the intent is exactly the same.
Clarksville, TN – Next week, the ISM Manufacturing Index is expected to be the highlight, although the December figures can be exaggerated by the seasonal adjustment.
Market participants are likely to look ahead to the Employment Report.
Clarksville, TN – Taper, no tantrum. The Federal Open Market Committee decided to reduce the monthly pace of asset purchases from $85 billion to $75 billion in January. The FOMC added that it expects to further reduce the pace of asset purchases “in measured steps” depending on the economic data (that may mean every other Fed policy meeting in 2014).
It also emphasized that the federal funds target rate would remain in its current low range (0-0.25%) even after the unemployment rate falls below 6.5%.
Clarksville, TN – The economic data surprised. Real GDP rose at a stronger-than-expected 2.8% annual rate in the advance estimate for 3Q13, but the figure was boosted by faster growth in inventories (which added 0.8 percentage point to GDP growth).
Consumer spending rose at a 1.5% annual rate, while business fixed investment rose 1.6% – nothing to write home about. The partial government shutdown had a mixed impact on the October employment figures.
Nonfarm payrolls rose by 204,000 (median forecast: +125,000), while August and September figures were revised a net +60,000.
Clarksville, TN – As expected, the Federal Open Market Committee did not alter the pace of asset purchases (currently $85 billion per month). The FOMC noted that “the recovery in the housing sector slowed somewhat in recent months,” but removed the phrase (from the September 18th statement that “the tightening of financial conditions observed in recent months, if sustained, could slow the pace of improvement in the economy and labor market.”
That suggests that the Fed could still begin to taper the pace of asset purchases at the December policy meeting if the economic data between now and then are strong enough (although that’s not seen as likely).
Clarksville, TN – The partial government shutdown and brinksmanship over the debt ceiling continued. However, financial market participants were encouraged by signs that the two sides were at least willing to talk to each other.
House Republicans appear to have abandoned demands for a repeal or delay of the Affordable Care Act, but it hasn’t been clear what they want instead. Note that a temporary (six-week or three-month) extension of the debt ceiling does not remove uncertainty completely, but it would sidestep a near-term financial catastrophe.
Clarksville, TN – Due to a lapse in appropriations, the government entered a partial shutdown. Some 800,000 federal workers were furloughed and about two million others continued to work but without getting paid. The economic impact of the shutdown will depend on how long it lasts.
A few days would not be a big deal, but a prolonged shutdown would result in a larger disruption of worker income (and corresponding restraint in consumer spending). In addition, the uncertainty may lead businesses to delay new hiring or capital expenditures. During the 1995-96 government shutdown, about 20% of private contracts with the government were affected.
Clarksville, TN – Next week, the markets will be interested in the ISM Manufacturing Index, but the focus should be on the September Employment Report. Seasonal adjustment is an issue in September.
We can expect to add more than 1.4 million education jobs (public and private) before adjustment, with hundreds of thousands of seasonal job losses in other areas. So it seems a little silly to worry about the nearest 20,000 or so in the adjusted payroll figure. The unemployment rate is expected to hold steady (at 7.3%) or edge a bit lower
Clarksville, TN – The Federal Open Market Committee did not reduce the pace of asset purchases. In its policy statement, the FOMC noted that the improvement in economy activity and labor market conditions since it began the asset purchase program a year ago was “consistent with growing underlying strength in the broader economy,” but “the Committee decided to await more evidence that progress will be sustained before adjusting the pace of its purchases.”
Clarksville, TN – With a thin economic calendar, Syria remained a key concern for the markets. However, prospects for a U.S. strike diminished, which helped bolster equity market sentiment. The bond market is looking ahead to the Fed policy meeting. In the bond market, expectations on tapering have solidified somewhat, with a moderate majority seeing a small initial reduction in the pace of asset purchases.
Retail sales for August disappointed (relative to expectations), but figures for June and July were revised a bit higher. Jobless claims were distorted due to upgrades in state computer systems, but the trend had been lower in August. Hiring intentions improved. Consumer sentiment softened.
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