Topic: U.S. economy
Clarksville, TN – The equity markets, and subsequently investors, experienced some wild swings toward the end of August, spurred in part by China’s faltering economy and a drop in oil prices. On paper, global equities have lost trillions in value after China unexpectedly devalued its currency earlier this month.
The move triggered concern that one of the world’s largest economies, especially its manufacturing sector, is growing at a slower rate. Consumer confidence also declined in August as the stock market turbulence dulled Americans’ outlook for the economy.
Tampa, FL – Motorists in the southeastern United States should find the lowest Labor Day gas prices in a decade. The current state average prices of $2.31 in Florida and Georgia, and $2.17 in Tennessee are $1.06, $1.02, and $1.04 cheaper than the price during last year’s holiday respectively.
“Low gas prices are added incentive for Americans to take a road trip this Labor Day weekend,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Low gasoline prices are an added boost in disposable income, giving travelers more money to spend on lodging, shopping, and dining out.”
Clarksville, TN – The stock market sell-off continued Monday, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and other major domestic indices saw a significant drop in early morning trading, regained some ground as the day progressed, but still closed down 3% to 4% for the day.
Global markets were also down, notably in China, Hong Kong, Germany and the United Kingdom. The pullback appears to be driven by concern over slowing global growth, particularly as China’s economy (one of the world’s largest) falters, as well as the drop in commodity prices, namely oil.
Clarksville, TN – The economic data were mixed, but generally disappointing, consistent with first quarter GDP growth closer to 0% (growth is widely expected to pick up again in the 2Q15). Consumer confidence improved more than anticipated in March and motor vehicle sales picked up.
However, the ISM manufacturing data suggested a slowdown in the factory sector (likely related to the stronger dollar, although survey respondents continued to note West Coast port delays).
Clarksville, TN – The economic data were mixed, adding little to the overall picture. Durable goods orders disappointed (again), with orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft (a rough proxy for business fixed investment) down for the sixth consecutive month. Unfilled orders are falling and inventories are outpacing shipments – both are bad signs, but neither is yet at a dangerous level.
Home sales figures were mixed. The third estimate of fourth quarter GDP growth came in at 2.2%, the same as in the previous estimate. This report included corporate profit data for 4Q14, which showed a moderate increase in domestic nonfinancial corporate profits, but a sharp drop in profits from abroad.
Clarksville, TN – As was widely anticipated, the Federal Open Market Committee removed the “patient” language from the policy statement, but indicated that “an increase in the target range for the federal funds rate remains unlikely at the April FOMC meeting.”
The FOMC noted that “economic growth has moderated somewhat” (vs. January’s “expanding at a solid pace”). In its Summary of Economic Projections, Fed officials lowered their forecasts for GDP growth and inflation. The dots in the dot plot (expectations of the appropriate year-end level of the federal funds rate) generally moved lower, implying a lower expected path of short-term interest rates in the months ahead.
Clarksville, TN – Retail sales results for February continued to disappoint and consumer sentiment slipped unexpectedly, but weather may have been a factor. The reports on import prices and producer prices both showed significant disinflationary pressure (which may be seen as delaying the Fed’s initial hike in short-term interest rates). Stock market volatility was elevated, with sharp moves day by day.
Market participants have grown increasingly worried about exchange rates. Around the world, exchange rates mostly fall under the jurisdiction of finance ministers (the Treasury in the U.S.), not the central banks.
Clarksville, TN – The economic data were mixed, but the February Employment Report was stronger than expected. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 295,000 (±105,000), with a revision to January of -18,000. The BLS indicated that the payroll survey missed most of the bad weather that hit last month.
The household survey showed that 328,000 could not make it to work due to bad weather, which is about average (it was 601,000 in February 2014). Average weekly hours held steady (no weather impact).
Clarksville, TN – Greece’s reform proposals were accepted by European finance ministers, effectively kicking the can down the road for another four months.
In her monetary policy testimony, Fed Chair Janet Yellen signaled that the Fed will begin to consider raising short-term interest rates on a meeting-by-meeting basis. Before then, the Fed will change its forward guidance (currently, the language suggests that the Fed can be “patient” in deciding when to raise rates).
Clarksville, TN – The minutes of the January 27th-28th Federal Open Market Committee meeting showed officials continuing to make preparations for policy normalization.
There was some debate about the risks of moving either too late or too soon. “Several” Fed officials feared that waiting too long to raise rates would risk higher inflation, but “many” (which in Fedspeak, is more than “several”) worried that a premature increase in rates could dampen the economic recovery and leave the Fed with limited options to correct course.
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