Thursday, March 17, 2016 - Article by: Jesse Stroup - Geneva Financial -
The U.S. Federal Reserve left its benchmark short-term Fed Funds Rate unchanged yesterday at the 0.375% level, which was expected. The Fed did say that it now feels that there will be two interest rate hikes in 2016, down from the four originally projected. In addition, the Fed went on to say that it lowered its numbers for Gross Domestic Product to 2.2% in 2016 from the 2.4% originally projected. The statement also read that global economic and financial developments continue to pose risks.Manufacturing data this week has been encouraging for the beaten down sector. Earlier in the week the Empire Manufacturing Index turned positive for the first time since last July, while the Philadelphia region also reported a positive reading today. A stronger dollar coupled with lower commodity prices have been a few reasons behind the decline. The Philly Fed Index rose to 12.4 in March, well above the -1.4 expected and up from the -2.8 in February. Any reading above zero indicates improving conditions.Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits rose this week, but still remain below the 300,000 mark for the longest stretch not seen the the early 1970s. Weekly Initial Jobless Claims rose 7,000 in the latest week to 265,000, near inline with estimates. The labor market continues to strengthen easing fears of a U.S. is heading into a recession. A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing last week's claims data and no states had been estimated.
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