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Federal Open Market Committee Rose Interest Rates

Zacks

The morning after the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) rose interest rates 25 basis points (to a 1-1.25% range) as expected, a bevy of new economic data has been released before the bell today. These include Import/Export Prices for May, the June Philly Fed and Empire State indexes, and, of course, new weekly data on Initial Jobless Claims.

Let’s start there: new jobless claims for last week fell by 8000 to 237K from the previous week, remaining within a range consistent with a healthy U.S. labor market, as well as the longest stretch of weekly sub-300K claims since before the Beatles broke up.

The 4-week moving average notched down 1000 claims to 243K, also within the psychologically pleasing 225-250K range. Continuing claims, now under 2 million for the past 9 weeks, bumped up a tad to 1.94 million from the previous week. This 4-week moving average is 1.93 million, another very strong number.

May Import Prices fell 0.3%, better than the -0.1% expected. April’s revised figure rolled back another 0.3% to 0.2% overall. Year over year, import prices are up 2.1%, but this is much lower than the 3.6% read we last saw. Exports also fell, down 0.7% for the month of May. While we may be seeing evidence of inflation creeping into our economy in some ways, thus far the global marketplace is not one of them.

The June Philly Fed survey was in-line with expectations at 27.6, notably lower than the May read of 38.8. The Empire State index swung up 19.8, much higher than consensus estimates, following a -1.0 read in May. Both of these numbers are typically volatile month to month, but they give a solid, comprehensive account of productivity from two of our major cities on the East Coast. The takeaway here is that both New York City and Philadelphia are pleasingly productive this month.

The FOMC interest rate hike remains within an historically low range, but it also helps the committee better situate itself to begin selling off its massive $4.5 trillion asset portfolio, reportedly to begin this year. Whether the 1.25% rate is suitable for this next stage to begin is perhaps debatable, but this incremental step is in the right direction. Overall, the Fed should be pleased that a poised and gradual unfolding of the domestic economy has allowed joblessness to dwindle while inflation seeps slowly into the marketplace.

Market futures remain in the red, but closer to unched than prior to these latest econ reports. This follows yet another all-time high hit during Wednesday’s close on the Dow. The 10-year note has now fallen to around 2.16% — the lowest that read has been since November of last year.


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