Topic: Federal Open Market Committee
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.
Clarksville, TN – The economic data were mixed, but mostly on the strong side of expectations. The ISM’s two monthly surveys surprised to the upside. Motor vehicle sales advanced
However, the August Employment Report disappointed. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 169,000 (vs. a median forecast of +180,000 and expectations of an upside surprise). Figures for June and July were revised a net 74,000 lower (July went from +162,000 to +104,000).
Manufacturing rose by 6,000. Construction was flat. Retail added 44,000. The unemployment rate fell to 7.3%, but that was due to lower labor force participation (the lowest since May 1978).
Clarksville, TN – The economic data were consistent with a slowing in the rate of overall growth in July.
The estimate of second quarter growth was revised higher (to a 2.5% annual rate, vs. +1.7% in the advance estimate), but that was almost entirely due to a smaller-than-expected trade deficit (the estimate of consumer spending growth was the same and the estimate of business fixed investment was only slightly different).
Personal income and spending figures showed a poor start for the consumer in 3Q13. Durable goods orders tanked in July, reflecting a drop in aircraft orders (which were strong in May and June). However, ex-transportation orders still disappointed.
Clarksville, TN – Fed tapering concerns continued to dominate the stock market action. The minutes of the July 30th-31st Federal Open Market Committee meeting provided little clarification.
Officials noted that the unemployment rate had fallen “considerably” since last fall (when QE3 began), with “solid” gains in nonfarm payrolls in recent months, but other measures of labor force utilization suggested “more modest” improvement.
From the minutes: “A few members emphasized the importance of being patient and evaluating additional information on the economy before deciding on any changes to the pace of asset purchases. At the same time, a few others pointed to the contingent plan that had been articulated on behalf of the Committee the previous month, and suggested that it might soon be time to slow somewhat the pace of purchases as outlined in that plan.”
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