Tag: federal reserve

Monday Economic Report – March 23, 2015

Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report: 

The U.S. economy has sputtered a bit in the early months of 2015. While it continues to grow modestly, several economic indicators are weaker than we would prefer. For example, manufacturing production decreased by 0.2 percent in February, declining for the third straight month. Many headwinds have combined to bring about this softness in the manufacturing sector, including global economic weakness, a strong U.S. dollar, the West Coast ports slowdown, a cautious consumer and the weather in some parts of the country. (continue reading…)

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The Fed Drops “Patience” from its Monetary Policy Statement

As expected, the Federal Reserve no longer says that it can be “patient” in normalizing monetary policy. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which met on March 17 and 18, does say that “an increase in the target range for the federal funds rate remains unlikely at the April FOMC meeting.” This would suggest that the soonest that short-term rate might increase would be at the June 16-17 meeting. With that said, the fed funds rate will change only when data warrant such actions. Still, conventional wisdom holds that the FOMC will vote to raise rates at some point in 2015, likely in June, July or September. For the most part, the Fed has been on automatic pilot with its intentions for a mid-year hike, and this action clears the way for that to happen. (continue reading…)

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Monday Economic Report – March 16, 2015

Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report: 

Global news dominated the headlines once again last week. The euro sank lower as the European Central Bank began its quantitative easing program, where it plans to purchase 1 trillion euros in government bonds over the next 18 months in an effort to stimulate faster economic growth. As a result, the euro has depreciated by nearly 25 percent over the past 10 months, down from $1.3924 per one euro on May 6 to a close of $1.0483 on Friday. There is also some expectation that it will move to parity soon, a level last seen in November 2002. (For more information on international developments, see the latest Global Manufacturing Economic Update.) (continue reading…)

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Producer Prices for Final Demand Goods Have Fallen for 8 Straight Months

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that producer prices for final demand goods and services surprisingly fell 0.5 percent in February. The consensus expectation had been for an increase of 0.3 percent, particularly as petroleum prices have stopped falling. Indeed, final demand energy goods prices were unchanged as a whole in February, the first non-negative number since June. Yet, lower food prices helped to reduce producer prices for final demand goods for the eighth straight month, down 0.4 percent. In particular, there were lower prices reported for dairy products, fruits and vegetables, grains, meats and shellfish – precisely the areas that have seen significant increases over much of the past year. Food prices rose 4.3 percent in 2014, but declines in the first two months of 2015 have reduced these costs by 2.6 percent. (continue reading…)

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Producer Prices for Final Demand Goods Declined in December for the Sixth Straight Month

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that producer prices for final demand goods and services decreased 0.3 percent in December. Looking just at goods, producer prices for final demand items have now fallen for six consecutive months, down 3.0 percent over that time frame. A large part of that decline, of course, stemmed from sharply lower petroleum prices. Producer prices for energy goods were off 6.6 percent in December, with a 14.8 percent decline since June. This has generally helped to push inflationary pressures lower.  (continue reading…)

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Lower Energy Costs Pushed Consumer Prices Down 0.3 Percent in November

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that the consumer price index (CPI) decreased by 0.3 percent in November. More importantly, consumer inflation has increased 1.3 percent over the past 12 months, down from 2.1 percent in May and 1.7 percent in October. In addition, core prices, which exclude food and energy costs, were up 1.7 percent in November, down from 1.8 percent the month before. As such, core inflation continues to remain below the Federal Reserve’s stated goal of 2 percent at the annual rate, which it has now done for 21 consecutive months. Overall, these trends mirror the producer price index data released earlier in the week.

Lower energy costs have helped to decelerate pricing pressures, with petroleum costs down sharply since June. The energy component of CPI has fallen 9.0 percent since June, for instance, with gasoline costs down 14.3 percent. Indeed, we have seen the average price of regular gasoline decline from $3.64 a gallon during the week of June 23 to $2.50 a gallon this week, according to the Energy Information Administration. (continue reading…)

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Producer Prices for Final Demand Goods Fell in November for the Fifth Straight Month

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that producer prices for final demand goods and services declined 0.2 percent in November. Producer prices for final demand goods fell for the fifth straight month, down 0.7 percent or 1.7 percent since June. Much of that decline, as you might expect, stemmed from reduced energy costs, which has decreased 8.8 percent since June and was off 3.1 percent in November. Of course, petroleum prices have continued to fall since then, with West Texas intermediate crude selling for less than $59 a barrel today, a level last seen in mid-2009. This has helped to reduce overall pricing pressures in the economy. (continue reading…)

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Monday Economic Report – November 24, 2014

Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report:

Central banks around the world have acted recently in an attempt to lift a sagging global economy. On Friday, for instance, the European Central Bank (ECB) announced that it has begun purchasing asset-backed securities, finally beginning a quantitative easing program that some have long sought. Earlier in the day, ECB President Mario Draghi said that “we will do what we must” to spur economic growth. In addition, the People’s Bank of China surprised markets by cutting interest rates on Friday. These actions followed the Bank of Japan’s announcement on October 31 that it would increase the amount of its monthly asset purchases. (continue reading…)

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The Federal Reserve Ends Its Latest Quantitative Easing Program

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) has decided to end its quantitative easing (QE) program, which means that it will cease its purchases of long-term and mortgage backed securities. This move was expected, as it was largely telegraphed over the summer, and the Fed has continued slowing its purchases since tapering began in December 2013. It also noted its intentions to end QE when outlining its framework towards normalizing monetary policies last month. (continue reading…)

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Lower Energy and Food Costs Push Producer Prices Down in September

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that producer prices for final demand goods and services were down 0.1 percent in September. It was the third straight month with inflationary pressures easing, a positive development that helps both businesses and consumers. On a year-over-year basis, final demand producer prices have risen 1.6 percent over the past 12 months, decelerating from 2.1 percent in May. Producer prices for final demand goods were off 0.2 percent, extending the 0.3 percent decline observed in August, with both food and energy costs lower.

Energy prices have fallen in four of the past five months, declining by 0.7 percent in September. One of the key drivers of this decrease was the fall in gasoline prices, down 2.6 percent for the month. Indeed, the price of West Texas intermediate crude was $97.86 per barrel on August 29, but by September 30, that figure had fallen to $91.17 a barrel. (It has declined further since then, closing at $81.84 per barrel yesterday. This could indicate further deceleration in energy and producer prices in October.)

Meanwhile, food prices also decreased 0.7 percent in September. After rising 5.4 percent from December to April, producer prices for final demand food products have eased by 1.5 percent. As such, the cost of food remained 3.8 percent higher in September than at the start of the year. This has largely stemmed from higher prices for meats, eggs, dairy and produce. The largest price declines in August were seen in beef and veal, chicken, cooking oils, eggs, grains, milled rice, pork, oilseeds and turkey products.

Beyond food and energy, core prices for final demand goods were up 0.2 percent. There were higher monthly costs for commercial products, floor coverings, industrial chemicals, pumps and compressors and women’s apparel. At the same time, producer prices for footwear, household appliances and furniture, jewelry, lawn and garden equipment, passenger cars, toys and games and truck trailers were lower.

Core inflation for final demand goods and services was 1.6 percent in September, down from 1.8 percent in August and 2.1 percent in May. As such, the reduction in inflation seen in the past few months should take some pressure off of the Federal Reserve Board as it prepares to normalize its monetary policies.

Chad Moutray is the chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers. 

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