Topic: United States
Clarksville, TN – As expected, the Federal Open Market Committee left short-term interest rates unchanged. In its policy statement, the FOMC noted that “labor market conditions have improved further even as growth in economic activity appears to have slowed.”
The key phrase from the mid-March statement, “global economic and financial developments continue to pose risks,” was removed, although officials promised to closely monitor conditions. Equities rallied on the Fed statement (in part, perhaps, because the meeting was simply out of the way), but global markets weakened after the Bank of Japan failed to stimulate further.
Clarksville, TN – The economic data remained consistent with a lackluster to moderate pace of growth in the near term. Building permits and housing starts disappointed in March, reflecting a pullback in multi-family activity (which appears to have been unsustainably strong in 2015).
Single-family permits, the key figure in the report, fell 1.2%, but the first quarter total was 15.2% higher than in 1Q15. Existing home sales rebounded from a soft February (likely reflecting weather effects in the Northeast and Midwest). The Index of Leading Economic Indicators rose 0.2%, following three consecutive monthly declines.
Clarksville, TN – The economic data were mixed, but mostly on the soft side of expectations. Retail sales fell in March, reflecting a pullback in auto sales (dealers noted lean inventories of popular models and a lack of dealer incentives). Ex-autos, gasoline and building materials, sales were flat (+3.2% y/y), but February was revised higher (making it about a wash relative to expectations).
Industrial production fell 0.6% in March, reflecting warm temperatures (another drop in the output of utilities) and a further contraction in oil and gas well drilling (down 72% since the end of 2014).
Clarksville, TN – The minutes of the March 15th-16th FOMC meeting showed that most officials did not see much change in their growth outlooks since December, due partly to expectations of a more gradual policy path (recall that most officials had expected four 25-basis-point hikes in 2016, but now see two).
“Several” meeting participants “argued for proceeding cautiously in reducing policy accommodation,” noting the downside risks from the rest of the world and the possibility that inflation expectations could fall.
Tennessee Representative Curtis Johnson
Nashville, TN – The Tennessee House of Representatives was pleased to welcome Mr. Masami Kinefuchi to attend Wednesday’s session of the House and to present him with a House Joint Resolution recognizing the great contribution he has made to the economy of Tennessee.
The consul-general’s job is to facilitate economic and cultural exchange between Japan and the United States. He has jurisdiction over five states—Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. In these five states, there are more than 400 Japanese companies.
In Tennessee there are over 180 Japanese-based business employing more than 46,000 individuals with the largest company being Nissan with an assembly plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. Other Japanese companies in Tennessee are Denso, Bridgestone, Calsonic, and Yorozu.
Fuel Savings Approach $10 Billion in the First Quarter of 2016 Compared to the Same Period Last Year
Tampa, FL – Americans paid the cheapest quarterly gas prices in twelve years during the first three months of 2016. Motorists have saved nearly $10 billion on gas so far this year compared to the same period in 2015.
The national average price of gas during the first quarter was $1.86 per gallon, making it the cheapest quarter for gasoline since January-March 2004. Gas prices are expected to remain relatively low compared to recent years, though average prices could rise another 25 cents per gallon by Memorial Day.
American Heart Association Rapid Access Journal Report
Dallas, TX – In the United States, adults of different Hispanic/Latino backgrounds, at high risk for heart disease, varied significantly in their use of widely-prescribed cholesterol-lowering medications known as statins, according to new research in the Journal of the American Heart Association. The difference was based on whether or not they had health insurance.
“These findings have important implications for preventing disparities in cardiovascular outcomes within the growing U.S. Hispanic/Latino population,” said study lead author Dima M. Qato, Pharm.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmacy systems, outcomes and policy at the University of Illinois in Chicago.
Clarksville, TN – In her speech, Fed Chair Yellen indicated that “given the risks, I consider it appropriate for the [FOMC] to proceed cautiously in adjusting policy.” This dovish stance was taken well by financial market participants.
Yellen emphasized that the Fed’s projections (such as the dots in the dot plot) are expectations and “not a plan written in stone.” Fed policy decisions will remain data-dependent, but Yellen stressed that the central bank has a limited ability to respond to downside shocks to the economy.
American Heart Association says Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder may affect Blood Vessel Health in Veterans
Dallas, TX – Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may decrease the ability of blood vessels to dilate, raising the risk of heart attack and stroke in veterans, according to new research in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
In the largest study to date on the impact of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on blood vessel health, researchers found that blood vessels of veterans with PTSD were unable to expand normally in response to stimulus – they were less reactive — compared to veterans without PTSD. Less reactive blood vessels are linked to heart disease and other serious conditions.
American Heart Association reports U.S. Heart Disease Rates decline overall; some Southern areas see less progress
American Heart Association Rapid Access Journal Report
Dallas, TX – While heart disease death rates have declined overall in the United States, there are dramatic differences in those rates among U.S. counties, including weaker declines found south of the Mason-Dixon Line, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.
The findings reveal a notable geographic shift in death rates from heart disease since the early 1970s, emphasizing the importance of geography for heart disease prevention and treatment, according to Michele Casper, Ph.D., the study’s lead author and an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.
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