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The September FOMC meeting minutes that were released this week revealed an entrenched disagreement among committee members about the decision to raise the federal funds rate. Three of the ten members had pushed for a quarter-point increase, while Janet Yellen and the rest of the committee remain dovish. A December rate hike appears likely.
The weekly jobless claims report for the October 8 week showed no material change, with unemployment claims hovering in a historically low range. Initial claims came in at the low end of expectations and below the 4-week average. Notably, this was a 43-year low for the weekly level of initial claims. Continuing claims also declined for the 8th straight week, also setting a record: the 4-week average is at a 43-year low. This report is a positive harbinger for the October employment report.
Retail sales had a good month, up 0.6% in September and showing strength in discretionary categories such as auto sales and restaurants. Auto sales had a 1.1% increase, although still down from last year’s peak, and restaurants were up 0.8% on top of August’s 0.7% gain. Housing-related categories were also up—furniture rose 1.0% and building materials and equipment were up 1.4%. This report will help boost the previously-soft quarterly consumer spending total, which in turn will boost GDP.
Tues October 18 — Consumer Price Index
Wed October 19 — Housing Starts