Posts Tagged ‘FOMC’

Fed Policymakers Cut Key Rate Range by .25 Percent

September 19, 2019

Fed Policymakers Cut Key Rate Range by.25 PercentThe Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee reduced its key short-term interest rate range one-quarter percent to 1.75 to 2.00 percent during it’s September meeting. While FOMC members had mixed opinions on reducing the benchmark rate range for short term loans, the post-meeting statement suggested that reducing the federal funds rate was a hedge against inflation. The federal funds rate impacts short-term consumer loan rates for autos and adjustable rate mortgages, but does not impact fixed mortgage rates. FOMC monetary policy decisions are governed by the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate of maintaining price stability and an inflation rate of 2.00 percent.

FOMC Members Facing Conflicted Opinions On Rate Cuts

Policymakers consider a variety of influences and news when cutting or raising the federal funds rate range. In addition to its dual mandate, FOMC members consider domestic and global impacts on the economy. Uncertainty over effects of international trade disputes and Great Britain’s looming exit from the European Union balanced strengths in the U.S. economy.

According to the post-meeting statement, seven FOMC members voted in favor of the rate cut to 1.75 to 2.00 percent; one member voted for a rate cut to 1.50 to 1.75 percent and two members voted against changing the target federal funds rate range.

Fed Chair: U.S. Economy Expected To Stay Strong

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said in a post-meeting press conference that while U.S. economy expanded for its 11th consecutive year, global economic outlook was less certain particularly in Europe and China. The U.S. economy expanded 2.50 percent in the first half of 2019; factors driving growth included rising consumer confidence, wages and strong job markets. Business investment and exports were lower due to uncertainties over trade. Job growth slowed, but this was expected based on 2018’s fast pace of job growth. Work force participation grew; the Fed expects the national unemployment rate to remain below four percent for the next few years.

Chair Powell said that maintaining strong economic conditions was particularly important for low to middle income consumers left behind during the Great Recession. While current inflation stands at 1.40 percent, the Fed projects that it will grow to 1.90 percent in 2020 and achieve the target goal of 2.00 percent in 2021. Chair Powell said that inflation pressures are muted and at the lower end of historical ranges.

Chair Powell echoed the FOMC statement in saying that the Fed would continue to monitor economic developments abroad and would adjust monetary policy according to economic developments prompted by trade disputes and emerging economic developments.

 

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Fed Lowers Key Interest Rate For First Time Since Great Recession

August 6, 2019

 Fed Lowers Key Interest Rate For First Time Since Great RecessionThe Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve announced the first rate cut to its key interest rate range since the Great Recession ushered in a series of rate cuts described as “quantitative easing.” The Fed committee confirmed a quarter-point cut to 2.00 to 2.25 percent.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell described the rate cut as a “mid-cycle adjustment” intended as a one-time boost for the economy. Mr. Powell said he did not view the cut as the first in a series of quantitative easing moves, but analysts said single rate cuts are not common.

The FOMC post-meeting statement said the decision to cut rates was based on global and domestic economic developments prompted by recent trade wars and resulting uncertainties. The Fed also cited inflation concerns connected with its dual mandate of maintaining maximum employment and stable pricing, but did not indicate urgency in its decision to reduce its benchmark rate range.

No Commitment to Future Rate Cuts

The FOMC statement did not commit to future rate cuts, but said that committee members would “continue to monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook and will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion with a strong labor market and inflation near its symmetric two percent objective.” Mr. Powell said, “If you look overall, financial stability vulnerabilities are moderate.” Eight of ten FOMC members voted in favor of the rate cut.

Projections for future cuts varied, as the Fed gave no guarantees of further rate cuts and economists predicted one more rate cut in 2019. Bond market analysts expected three rate cuts this year, which was factored into bond pricing.

The Fed also announced it was ending is efforts to shrink its balance sheet and that it was important for the Fed to buy Treasury bonds in the open market as mortgage assets move out of the Fed’s balance sheet. This move was expected to stabilize the market.

The FOMC statement concluded with the Committee’s consistent commitment to  assess real and expected economic developments and to review global and domestic developments along with readings on economic and financial trends as part of its decision-making process. The FOMC outlook is flexible and subject to change as events warrant.

Fed Holds Key Rate Steady As It Watches Economic Trends

June 25, 2019

Fed Holds Key Rate Steady As It Watches Economic TrendsFederal Reserve policymakers held the federal funds rate at its current range of 2.25 to 2.50 percent. Analysts speculated that the Fed may lower its key rate based on signs of slowing economic growth and the President’s encouragement to lower the Fed rate.

Federal Open Market Committee members cited “uncertainties” in support of their decision not to change the Fed’s key lending rate. A stiff month-to-month drop in jobs growth and worries over trade problems associated with recent tariffs assessed against China contributed to the Committee’s decision to hold rates steady and closely watch domestic and global economic trends.

Signs of slowing economic growth caused the Fed to adjust its forecast for achieving the benchmark inflation rate of 2.00 percent to 2021 and lowered expectations for inflationary growth from 1.80 percent to 1.50 percent.

Fed Chair: Fed Closely Monitoring Economic Developments

After the FOMC statement, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell gave a press conference in which he further addressed the Fed’s response to slowing economic growth and current developments in global affairs. Chairman Powell said that it is important for policymakers to respond based on emerging economic trends rather than reacting to quickly shifting data.

Chairman Powell identified trade concerns and slowing global economic growth as factors impacting slowing domestic economic growth. Due to recent economic changes, Chairman Powell said that a “somewhat accommodative” policy stance was indicated. Uncertainty over supply chains due to tariffs was an example of factors causing concern over economic growth. Positive indicators centered around labor as job growth continued and employers reported a shortage of workers for available jobs.

Manufacturing declined globally and domestically as service-related-jobs expanded. When asked about Fed oversight over banks’ risk exposure due to lending policies, Chairman Powell said that large institutional holdings presented the greatest risk for banks, but did not say such risk was currently problematic. The chairman re-emphasized that FOMC members constantly assess economic data and global events to determine the Fed’s economic policies.

 

FOMC Statement: No Changes to Key Fed Rate

May 2, 2019

FOMC Statement No Changes to Key Fed RateThe meeting of the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee ended Wednesday with the Committee’s customary post-meeting statement recapping monetary policy matters considered by the Committee. Members voted not to change the current target rate range of the federal funds rate. The current rate range of 2.25 percent to 2.50 percent.

Federal Funds Target Rate Range: Monetary Policymakers Remain Patient

FOMC members cited low inflation pressures, global and domestic economic and financial developments as supporting the Committee’s decision to leave the Federal funds rate unchanged despite recent political pressures to lower the rate and increase the Fed’s accommodative stance toward boosting the economy.

FOMC members evaluated actual and expected economic conditions, labor markets and readings on global and domestic current events and economic news. Based on their assessments, FOMC members again asserted their willingness to be patient concerning Committee decisions to change the federal funds rate range.

The Fed’s dual mandate of supporting maximum employment and stable pricing as indicated by low national unemployment rates and the benchmark inflation rate of two percent are foundational influences on any decision about changing the Fed’s key interest rate range; the national unemployment rate has hovered near a historically low rate of 3.80 percent in recent months and inflation is also below the Fed’s benchmark of two percent.

Fed Chair: No Strong Case for Moving Federal Funds Rate in Either Direction

Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said during his post-meeting press conference that FOMC members did not see a strong case for moving the federal funds rate in either direction. Mr. Powell cited improvements in global economic conditions within Europe and China and said that trade negotiations with China and Japan were also improved.

When asked about lowering the Federal funds rate based on lower inflation rates, Chairman Powell said that maintaining inflation near two percent was important, but viewed lower inflation during the first quarter of 2019 as a result of transitory influences. He reassured his audience that short-term fluctuations in the inflation were not considered a problem.

Chairman Powell said that the Fed is not influenced by political pressure and that the Fed’s monetary policy is not based in any way on political commentary or pressures. Mr. Powell said the outlook for domestic economic growth was good based on consumer spending and business investments. He said that resolution of trade issues would likely improve consumer sentiment.

 

FOMC Minutes Reveal Fed Policymakers U-Turn

April 11, 2019

FOMC Minutes Reveal Fed Policymakers U-TurnMembers of the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee voted to hold the target range of the federal funds rate to its current range of 2.25 to 2.50 percent. The minutes of the most recent Committee meeting cited softening domestic and global economic conditions as reason for not raising the target federal funds range.

While labor markets remained strong, the minutes noted that household spending and business investment slowed in the first quarter of 2019. FOMC members expected Gross Domestic Product growth to slow as compared to its 2018 pace.

While current inflation and the national unemployment rate fell in line with the Fed’s dual mandate of seeking maximum employment and price stabilization, inflation fell due to falling fuel prices. The meeting minutes said that the Committee would be patient as it determined which, if any, action would be appropriate regarding the federal funds rate.

Strong Labor Sector Indicators Offset Lower GDP

Labor sector indicators remained strong with a national unemployment rate of 3.80 percent; labor force participation rose and the ratio of employment to population also rose. Strong employment and consumer sentiment readings suggested that more households may transition from renting to buying homes. Home sales recently fell due to affordability issues and rising mortgage rates.

Factors influencing FOMC monetary policy decisions include labor market conditions, inflation expectations and readings on domestic and international financial developments. The meeting minutes noted that near-term adjustments to monetary policy were dependent on changes to current economic outlook according to emerging data. The Committee consistently says that monetary policy positions can change according to developments in global and domestic economic data.

Fed Chairs Press Conference

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said during his post-FOMC meeting press conference that the Committee’s “wait and see” stance on raising the target range of the federal funds rate was based on information received since growth expectations based on 2018’s economic growth rate of 3.10 percent. As of September 2018, the Fed forecasted economic growth of 2.50 percent in 2019, but subsequent information caused the Fed to downwardly revise its growth estimate.

Mr. Powell said that global economic slowing was expected in Europe and China; unresolved issues including Brexit and ongoing trade negotiations were given as reasons for slower global economic growth. While domestic and international economic forecasts indicated a modest slowdown in economic growth, Chairman Powell said that overall economic conditions remained favorable.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to consult with your trusted home mortgage professional.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 25th, 2019

March 25, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 25th, 2019Last week’s economic news included readings from the National Association of Home Builders, Federal Reserve Federal Open Market Committee and a press conference by Fed Chair Jerome Powell.

Sales of pre-owned homes in February were reported along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Unchanged Despite Headwinds

Home builders remained confident about housing market conditions in March. The NAHB Housing Market Index posted a reading of 62, which matched February’s reading and fell one point short of expectations. NAHB Index readings above 50 represent a positive outlook on housing market conditions.

Home builders continued to face obstacles including high materials costs and lack of buildable lots and labor. Analysts said builders focused on building larger homes, which were not affordable for many prospective buyers.

FOMC: Fed Puts Brakes on Interest Rate Hikes

Monetary policymakers reversed course on raising the target range for federal funds and voted not to raise the current rate range of 2.25 to 2.50 percent. FOMC members cited global economic concerns including Brexit and wavering economic conditions in China.

While the U.S. Labor sector was strong with ongoing jobs and wage growth and low national unemployment, FOMC members said that the Fed could be “patient” about raising rates and did not expect to raise rates in 2019. Slowing economic growth and inflation were reasons for holding interest rates steady.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell described the current economy as “good” and said that the Fed would gradually roll back its accommodative purchase of treasury bonds. This news was likely to cause yields on 10-year Treasury notes to fall; this would cause mortgage rates to fall due to their connection with 10-year Treasury notes.

Pre-Owned Home Sales Hit 11 Month High in February

The National Association of Realtors® reported 5.50 million sales of pre-owned homes on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. February sales reading fell short of 5.12 million sales expected but were higher than the rate of 4.93 million sales in January.

February’s reading was 11.80 percent higher than January’s sales. The sales pace was 1.80 percent lower year-over-year, but the median sale price of preowned homes was $249,500., which was 3.60 percent higher year-over-year.

First-time buyers accounted for 34 percent of sales; this falls short of the typical 40 percent participation rate for first-time buyers. Affordability and strict mortgage qualification requirements continued to challenge first-time and moderate-income buyers.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower average rates for fixed rate mortgages. 30-year fixed mortgage rates were three basis points lower and averaged 4.28 percent; Mortgage rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.71 percent and were five basis points lower on average. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.84 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims were lower last week with 221,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected 225,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 230,000 new claims filed.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on housing starts and building permits issued, new and pending home sales and inflation. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

FOMC Meeting Minutes: Why Fed’s Rate Policy Reversed Course

February 22, 2019

FOMC Meeting Minutes: Why Fed’s Rate Policy Reversed CourseAfter raising the target range for the federal funds rate in 2018, the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee did not raise the Central Bank’s key interest rate at its meeting of January 29 and 30. While Committee members did not raise the Fed’s key rate, members were divided on the interest rate decision.

FOMC Members Divided On Interest Rate Decision

Minutes of January’s FOMC meeting indicated that member viewpoints varied about how the Fed should deal with the Fed’s target interest rate range. One group said that interest rate increases may be necessary if inflation increases above the Federal Reserve’s baseline forecast.

Other FOMC members supported raising the Fed’s interest rate range later in 2019 if economic conditions move as expected. Overall, FOMC members said that there were “few risks” in the Committee’s current position of patience, but they were open to reassessing that position according to how economic conditions change.

FOMC Cites Reasons For Halting Rate Increases

Committee members provided several reasons for reversing their 2018 policy of consistent rate hikes including declining economic conditions since early 2018. Global and domestic economic conditions slowed; deteriorating conditions were supported by lower readings on consumer and business sentiment. Federal government policies including the partial government shutdown and then-current trade policy contributed to the deteriorating economic outlook in late 2018.

Ongoing influences driving FOMC monetary policy decisions include the Fed’s mandate for achieving maximum employment, stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates. Because short-term data change frequently, Fed monetary policy reflects long-term goals, medium-term outlook and the Committee’s risk assessments in multiple financial and economic sectors. The Committee said that long-term inflation of two percent indicates stable pricing as required by federal mandate; any prolonged deviation above or below the two percent reading would concern Committee members.

FOMC indicated progress with its maximum employment mandate by changing its long-run unemployment outlook from 4.60 percent to 4.40 percent, which suggests a strong outlook for job markets. Fourth quarter Gross Domestic Product was described as “solid”. The meeting minutes indicated that some data typically used by Committee members was limited by the government shutdown.

 

FOMC Raises Key Rate, Forecasts 2 Rate Hikes in 2019

December 26, 2018

FOMC Raises Key Rate, Forecasts 2 Rate Hikes in 2019During its post-meeting statement, the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve announced that its target range for the Fed’s key interest rate would increase one quarter percent to 2.25 to 2.50 percent. While this rate hike was not expected by the Executive branch, it met analyst expectations.

FOMC said in its customary post-meeting statement that members expect to make two interest rate hikes in 2019 as compared to three rate hikes in 2018 and the Committee’s original forecast of three rate hikes in 2019. Given current economic conditions, the Fed forecasted only one rate hike for 2020.

Hawks And Doves: Federal Reserve Leaders Differ On Interest Rate Projections

Six FOMC members indicated support for three rate hikes in 2019 and the FOMC statement cited a need for future interest rate hikes while some economists expected that no mention of potential rate hikes would be included in the statement. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said, “Policy at this point does not need to be accommodative. It can move to neutral.”

FOMC’s statement cited “cross currents” impacting the economy, but expects “solid growth next year, declining unemployment a healthy economy.” The Fed specifically listed strengths in labor markets, household spending and a healthy economy influenced the committee’s decision to raise the Fed’s benchmark interest rate range.

Recent volatility in global affairs and the economy prompted FOMC to say that they would be reviewing ongoing global economic and financial developments and assess their implications for the global economic outlook.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell: Fed Is About To Embark On A Delicate Balancing Act

Chairman Powell said that current economic conditions have helped the Fed meet its dual mandate of maintaining maximum employment and stable economic growth, for which the Fed has set a benchmark of two percent annual growth for inflation. Current inflation is lower than expected and unemployment is near record lows. The Fed faces balancing interest rate increases with closely monitoring economic “cross currents”.

Chairman Powell said the Fed expects the median rate of economic growth to slow to 2.30 percent in 2019 as compared to 2018’s rate of 3.00 percent. The National Unemployment rate is expected to fall from its current rate of 3.70 percent to 3.50 percent by the end of 2019. Mr. Powell said that no course of action is predetermined and that Fed leaders will monitor economic and global developments on an ongoing basis.

 

Fed Policymakers Make Interesting Decision on Interest Rates

March 17, 2016

Fed Policymakers Make Interesting Decision on Interest RatesAccording to a press release by the Federal Reserve, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the current target federal funds rate will hold steady at  0.25 to 0.50 percent. Committee members cited positive developments in the U.S economy including jobs growth, stronger labor markets and gradually increasing inflation. In addition, stronger housing sector and household spending were also noted as positive signs for the economy. Committee members cited risks associated with global economic and financial developments as a concern.

FOMC members are guided in decision making by the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate of maximum employment and price stability. Inflation remains below the committee’s longer-term goal of 2.00 percent; FOMC members attributed slow inflation growth to lower energy prices. The Fed described its current monetary policy stance as “accommodative” and expects it to remain so until inflation reaches 2.00 percent.

Analysts said that the Fed has scaled back its forecast for rate increases from four increases to two increases in 2016, but any actions will depend on FOMC review of current and expected domestic and global factors. Fed Chair Janet Yellen previously cited turbulent market conditions as “significantly” tightening financial conditions due to lower stock prices.

Fed Chair  Janet Yellens Press Conference

Fed Chair Janet Yellen explained policy makers’ decision not to raise the target federal funds rate in a press conference after the FOMC statement. Chair Yellen responded to media representatives’ questions about FOMC’s views on inflation and unemployment, zero or negative interest rates and uncertainty about China’s economy

Ms. Yellen cautioned against over-emphasis of the relationship between unemployment and inflation as employment rates only modestly impacts tracking inflation indicators as they relate to wages and prices. In her remarks about the decision not to raise the target federal funds rate, Chair Yellen cited uncertainty about China’s economy as a factor in the decision not to raise the benchmark federal funds rate.

The U.S. economy is strengthening as Europe and Japanese economies wane. Chair Yellen indicated that although global economic decisions influence U.S. monetary policy, that U.S. decisions are not based solely on global economic and financial developments.

In response to a question about whether the FOMC has considered the effects of zero to negative interest rates used by Japan and other nations, Chair Yellen said that committee members were not actively considering or discussing negative interest rates in view of improving economic conditions. Ms. Yellen said that Japan incorporated negative interest rates but did not realize the desired effect of increasing inflation.

Media analysts said that a rate increase in April’s FOMC meeting seems unlikely, but with world-wide economic conditions changing quickly, such, forecasts can’t be cast in cement.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 22, 2016

February 22, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - February 22, 2016Last week’s economic news included the NAHB Housing Market Index, Commerce Department releases on housing starts and building permits and minutes of the most recent meeting of the Fed’s FOMC meeting.

Home Builder Confidence Falls in February

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), home builders had less confidence in market conditions for newly built homes. The reading for February was three points lower at 58 than the upwardly adjusted reading for January. Analysts had expected a reading of 59; any reading over 50 indicates that more builders are confident about conditions than those who are not.

Builder confidence was mixed for the three components used to calculate the NAHB Wells Fargo Housing Market Index reading. Confidence in current market conditions was lower by three points to 65, but builder confidence in future market conditions rose one point to 65. The reading for buyer foot traffic in new housing developments hasn’t topped the benchmark of 50 since the peak of the housing bubble; in February, the reading for buyer foot traffic dropped five points to 39.

NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said that builder confidence is likely to improve in 2016 due to low mortgage rates, stable job markets and pent-up demand for homes. Mr. Crowe also said that shortages of available land and labor were concerns for builders.

Housing Starts,Building Permits Issued Lower

Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued also showed lower readings for January than for December. Housing starts reached 1.099 million starts in January as compared to an expected reading of 1.165 million starts and December’s reading of 1.145 million starts.  Winter weather likely contributed to fewer housing starts.

Fewer building permits were issued in January than in December. January’s reading was 1.202 million permits issued as compared to December’s reading of 1.143 million building permits issued. Building permits issued for single family homes dropped by 1.60 percent to 731,000 permits issued. While lower month-to-month readings for current conditions may seem discouraging, the pace of single-family home building grew steadily during 2015 and is expected to do likewise in 2016.

FOMC Minutes: Policy Makers Eye Economic Developments

Minutes of January’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting indicate that members will closely monitor developing economic conditions as part of any future decision to raise the target federal funds rate from its current range of 0.250 to 0.500 percent. The Fed raised this rate in December, but did not increase the federal funds rate at its January meeting. Fed Chair Janet Yellen emphasized that decisions to raise the federal funds rate were not on a pre-determined course and that developing economic trends would continue to inform FOMC decisions.

Mortgage Rates and Weekly Jobless Claims

Average rates for fixed rate mortgages were unchanged last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.65 percent and the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 2.95 percent with Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for both types of fixed rate mortgages. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 2.85 percent with average discount points at 0.40 percent.

Analysts have consistently cited stronger labor markets as a factor driving U.S. housing markets. New weekly jobless claims dropped last week and added evidence of expanding job markets. 262,000 new jobless claims were filed last week; the reading was lower than expectations of 275,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 269,000 new jobless claims. Stable job markets are important to would-be home buyers; as labor conditions improve more buyers are likely to enter the housing market.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes reports on sales of new and pre-owned homes and the Case-Shiller 10 and 20 City Home Price Indices. Reports on consumer sentiment and inflation will also be released.