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The U.S Census Bureau reported that U.S. retail sales were down 1.1% in November, this after October sales were revised from an earlier estimate of a 0.3% increase to a 0.1% decline. October’s dip was the first since April. At $546.5 billion, November’s sales were still up over 4.1% as compared with the same month a year ago. Declines were reported across the board. Clothing stores dropped 6.8%, sales at restaurants and bars were down 4.0%, while vehicle dealerships reported a decline of 1.7%. Purchases at groceries were up 1.9%, also building materials increased by 1.1%, along with online and mail-order retail sales which rose a modest 0.2%.
The U.S. Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate in the range of 0.00 to 0.25%. Policymakers also committed to the purchase of $80 billion of Treasury securities, and $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities each month “until substantial further progress has been made toward the Committee’s maximum employment and price stability goals”. The benchmark rate will likely stay at near zero until maximum employment is achieved and the inflation rate exceeds 2% over the longer run. FOMC members do not expect any changes to the current rate in 2021, and no median expectation to rise until beyond 2022.
The Commerce Department reported that housing starts increased 1.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,547,000 units, representing a 12.8% year over year increase. November’s start figures suggest some moderation, as October showed housing starts increasing by 4.7%. Single-family starts have increased now for seven consecutive months. Permits for new homes increased 6.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,639,000, representing an 8.5% increase over a year ago. Housing completions were at a seasonally adjusted rate of 1,163,000, representing a 12.1% decrease over October’s revised rate of 1,323,000 units, and 4.8% below the November 2019 rate of 1,222,000.
Tuesday December 22 – GDP (QoQ) (Q3)
Thursday December 23 – New Home Sales (Nov)