Wednesday, October 28, 2015

U.S. Fed holds rates, to determine progress in December

    The Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States, left its benchmark federal funds rate at zero to 0.25 percent, as widely expected, but upgraded its view of household spending and business investment and dropped last month's reference to any downward pressure on inflation from recent global economic and financial developments.
    As in September, Jeffrey Lacker was the only member of the 10-person Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the Fed's policy-making body, to vote for a 25 basis point rate hike.
    In a change to its previous statement from September, the FOMC added that it would determine progress toward meeting its goals of maximum employment and 2.0 percent inflation "at its next meeting," signaling that financial markets and investors in December should be prepared for the first change in rates since December 2008.
     In its statement, the FOMC described household spending and business fixed investment as increasing "at solid rates in recent months," a more upbeat view than in September when it said they had "been increasing moderately."
     In contrast, the Fed still described exports as being "soft" and was slightly less upbeat about the labor market, saying the "pace of job gains slowed," compared with September when it said that the labor market had "continued to improve."
    Nevertheless, it still saw underutilization of labour resources as having diminished and expects the labor market to continue to improve.
    Although the Fed dropped its specific mention of "global economic and financial developments" as possibly restraining economic activity and pushing down inflation, it continues to keep an eye out for any dampening impact on the U.S. economy from the slowdown in global economic activity.
    "The Committee continues to see the risks to the outlook for economic activity and the labor market as nearly balanced but is monitoring global economic and financial developments," the Fed said.
    U.S. inflation was unchanged at 0.2 percent in September from August while the unemployment rate was also unchanged at 5.1 percent last month from August.

   The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System issued the following statement:

"Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in September suggests that economic activity has been expanding at a moderate pace. Household spending and business fixed investment have been increasing at solid rates in recent months, and the housing sector has improved further; however, net exports have been soft. The pace of job gains slowed and the unemployment rate held steady. Nonetheless, labor market indicators, on balance, show that underutilization of labor resources has diminished since early this year. Inflation has continued to run below the Committee's longer-run objective, partly reflecting declines in energy prices and in prices of non-energy imports. Market-based measures of inflation compensation moved slightly lower; survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.

Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. The Committee expects that, with appropriate policy accommodation, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace, with labor market indicators continuing to move toward levels the Committee judges consistent with its dual mandate. The Committee continues to see the risks to the outlook for economic activity and the labor market as nearly balanced but is monitoring global economic and financial developments. Inflation is anticipated to remain near its recent low level in the near term but the Committee expects inflation to rise gradually toward 2 percent over the medium term as the labor market improves further and the transitory effects of declines in energy and import prices dissipate. The Committee continues to monitor inflation developments closely.

To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee today reaffirmed its view that the current 0 to 1/4 percent target range for the federal funds rate remains appropriate. In determining whether it will be appropriate to raise the target range at its next meeting, the Committee will assess progress--both realized and expected--toward its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation. This assessment will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial and international developments. The Committee anticipates that it will be appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate when it has seen some further improvement in the labor market and is reasonably confident that inflation will move back to its 2 percent objective over the medium term.

The Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities and of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction. This policy, by keeping the Committee's holdings of longer-term securities at sizable levels, should help maintain accommodative financial conditions.

When the Committee decides to begin to remove policy accommodation, it will take a balanced approach consistent with its longer-run goals of maximum employment and inflation of 2 percent. The Committee currently anticipates that, even after employment and inflation are near mandate-consistent levels, economic conditions may, for some time, warrant keeping the target federal funds rate below levels the Committee views as normal in the longer run.

Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Janet L. Yellen, Chair; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; Lael Brainard; Charles L. Evans; Stanley Fischer; Dennis P. Lockhart; Jerome H. Powell; Daniel K. Tarullo; and John C. Williams. Voting against the action was Jeffrey M. Lacker, who preferred to raise the target range for the federal funds rate by 25 basis points at this meeting."


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