The US dollar rallied and stocks finished little changed on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve made its latest monetary policy announcement. The Fed took another $US10 billion off its QE program and kept interest rates pegged near 0, while also saying it still sees there being “considerable time” between the end of QE and the first interest rate hike.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,152.92, +21, (+0.1%)
- S&P 500: 2,001.13, +2.2, (+0.1%)
- Nasdaq: 4,561.49, +8.9, (+0.2%)
And now, the top stories on Wednesday:
1. The biggest story on Wednesday was the Federal Reserve’s latest monetary policy announcement. The Fed took another $US10 billion off its QE program and kept interest rates pegged at 0%-0.25%. The Fed also kept two key pieces of language in its policy statement. The Fed said that, “The Committee continues to anticipate, based on its assessment of these factors, that it likely will be appropriate to maintain the current target range for the federal funds rate for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends.” The Fed also said it still sees “significant underutilization” of labour market resources.
2. In her press conference following the policy announcement, Yellen was pressed numerous times on what, exactly, “considerable time,” means. Yellen was reluctant to answer this, stressing that the Fed’s first move on interest rates will remain data dependent and is not on a preset or calendar-based course. Yellen also said that she expects the labour force participation rate to continue to fall, but emphasised that this was her personal view.
3. The Fed also released its latest Summary of Economic Projections, which included the FOMC’s updated GDP, inflation, and interest rates. This included the Fed’s latest dot plot, which shows FOMC expectations for interest rates. Following this release, Peter Tchir at Brean Capital said that the dots showed interest rate expectations for the end of next year increased slightly from the June projections. Real GDP expectations were also modestly lower than in June’s release.
4. During Yellen’s press conference, both the Dow and S&P 500 hit new all-time highs, but came off these levels into the close. The dollar also strengthened after the FOMC statement and Yellen’s press conference, with the dollar making a new high against the Japanese yen, trading at higher than the ¥108 level. The dollar was volatile after the Fed’s announcement and during Yellen’s press conference, but strengthened against all major currencies into the close of US trade.
5. Earlier on Wednesday, inflation data from the consumer price index showed prices fell 0.2% in August. Expectations were for prices to remain flat, and this report marks the first decline in prices since April 2013. In its release, the BLS said, “While the shelter index increased and the indexes for new vehicles and for alcoholic beverages also rose, these advances were offset by declines in several indexes, including airline fares, recreation, household furnishings and operations, apparel, and used cars and trucks.” On a year-over-year basis, CPI grew 1.7%, less than the 1.9% that was expected.
6. Falling prices is certainly not what central banks want to see, but Business Insider’s Joe Weisenthal did offer another way to look at the decrease in prices: Americans just got a raise.
7. The vote on Scotland’s Independence Referendum is set for Thursday, and polls Tuesday showed “No” votes leading “Yes” votes by a margin of 52-48. Two polls released on Wednesday, however, showed this margin favouring “No” by a margin of just 51-49. We’ll have full coverage of the Scottish vote on Thursday.