The Federal Reserve provided a look at the nation's economy at the turn of the year and indicated that the upturn was proceeding at a modest pace on average across most regions of the country. Better manufacturing metrics, generally decent retailing numbers (with the exception of a disappointing holiday season), and improving employment data underscored the generally decent outlook in place as we begin 2017.
An increasingly transparent Federal Reserve,
which has widely telegraphed its intention to raise interest rates
before the end of the year did just that minutes ago when the FOMC lifted the federal funds rate target from 0.50% to 0.75%. That was the first such move in a year. The action and the magnitude of the increase both had been expected. The stock market, not surprised by the outcome of the meeting, has responded with a shrug, with prices edging up modestly in the minutes following the bank's release, before subsequently giving back those gains in a modest retreat.
in the key non-manufacturing
in October on an absolute basis, for the 81st month in a row, according to the nation's purchasing managers. In all, such activity registered a reading of 54.8 last month. That was comfortably above the neutral score of 50.0, which separates an expanding services sector from one that is contracting.
The Federal Reserve
has voted to keep short-term interest rates unchanged
. This meant that the Fed has now held rates at their present level throughout the year, thus far. Last December, the bank shifted gears, raising borrowing costs slightly for the first time in nearly a decade. However, as yet, there has been no follow through, in part as the economy had wilted in the first half. The next Fed meeting, in mid-December, could see a rate hike, as the election will be over by that time. But there is no assurance that scenario will unfold.
The Federal Reserve
has issued its periodic Beige Book
economic summation within the last hour and there were no surprises that would undermine in either the economy or the stock market. In fact, minutes after the widely anticipated release came out, the equity market's gains, already rather impressive today, were solidified even further, with the day's gain in the Dow Jones Industrial Average briefly rising toward 90 points before settling back again.
The widely anticipated employment report for September
, issued earlier this morning, held few notable surprises
. Specifically, the nation added 156,000 new positions last month
, which was some 20,000 below the latest forecasted increase of 175,000. Earlier in the week, the consensus expectation had been for 165,000 jobs to be added.
Sales of existing homes eased back a tad last month
, with the report issued just moments ago affirming that such transactions totaled an annualized 5.33 million homes. This was the second straight month in which sales had dipped, with the latest decline a scant 0.9%.
The Federal Reserve
again looked at the possibility of raising interest rates, and as it has done on all previous Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings this year, opted to stay the course. To be sure, while some members had counseled for the need to possibly hike borrowing costs at this time, the majority felt it would be better to stand aside. However, the FOMC strongly hinted that it would still raise rates this year. The rate decision had been widely expected.
Following on the heels earlier this morning of a weak report on retail spending across the country, the U.S. Commerce Department has reported that industrial production
at the nation's factories, mines, and utilities also faltered last month
, as did capacity utilization at U.S. facilities.
in this country's manufacturing sector contracted slightly last month
, following five straight monthly advances, falling to a reading of 49.4. That was below the 50.0 line, which separates an expanding manufacturing sector from one that is contracting. Last month's results, meantime, fell shy of the July tally of 52.6 and also the expected tabulation of 52.1. Clearly, this was a disappointing result for the industrial sector.