Thursday, November 8, 2018

No hike to Fed funds rate this month

The FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) took a pass as expected at their November policy meeting, keeping the federal funds target unchanged within a range of 2.00 to 2.25 percent with an implied 2.125 percent mid-point. Their assessment of economic activity and job gains are also unchanged from their last statement in September, both described as strong.

But there are a couple of changes in today's announcement. On the strong side, the unemployment gets an upgrade from "low" to having "declined" further reflecting October's 2 tenths downtick in the unemployment rate to 3.7 percent. But on the soft side, business investment where growth in the last statement was described as strong is now described as having "moderated", this consistent with the flat showing for nonresidential fixed investment in the third-quarter GDP report. Not changed is the assessment of growth in household spending which remains strong.

There are no other changes in the text where the key line is repeated -- that further gradual increases in the funds target can be expected. Also not changed is the unanimity of the committee, at 9 to 0 and, as consistent all year, showing no dissent.

In their September meeting, FOMC forecasts showed one more rate hike penciled in for this year where expectations will focus on the December meeting, in what would extend a rate-hike sequence that Fed policy makers see as necessary to limit the risk of overheating in the economy and the risk of unwanted inflation.

Reposted from Econoday.

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