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.
Wall Street received some welcome good news this morning, as the Labor Department
reported that the country had added a much better-than-expected 255,000 new jobs in July; expectations had been for a more modest increase of 180,000.
The two-day Federal Open Market Committee
meeting concluded a little earlier this afternoon, with the central bank providing no surprises of note with its decision to leave short-term interest rates unchanged
, within a range of 0.25% to 0.50%. The stock market, off slightly before the Fed decision and accompanying rate statement, improved slightly in the first few minutes of trading, but, in general, set off few buy or sell programs initially.
continues to flow in about the nation's economy
. On point, just days after we received upbeat tidings on housing starts, sales of existing homes, and the leading indicators, the Conference Board and the Commerce Department released upbeat figures on consumer confidence
and sales of new homes
Sales of existing homes strengthened
, boosted by a greater share of sales to first-time buyers. Such strength enabled this housing category to improve for the fourth consecutive month, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a major trade group.
The U.S. Federal Reserve
released its latest Beige Book economic summation
within the past hour, and that issuance, which is used by the nation's central bank in formulating monetary policy for the next FOMC meeting (scheduled for later this months) revealed few surprises. The stock market's
response, as a result, was rather muted, with the uneven quality displayed by the leading averages earlier today, following three straight days of noteworthy gains, continuing.
What a difference a month makes! In early June, the Labor Department reported
that the nation had added just 38,000 jobs in May. (That number has since been pared to 11,000 positions.) Expectations at the time had been for 160,000 new payrolls to have been added. Jump ahead a month, and this week expectations had been for 175,000 new positions to be created in June. So, imagine the surprise on Wall Street when the government reported that the nation's payrolls had surged by 287,000 jobs last month