U.S. and World News
- Monetary policymakers from around the world have gathered in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for the Federal Reserve’s annual summit on economic policy. Janet Yellen, possibly on her last trip to Jackson Hole as Fed Chair, delivered a speech on past and prospective reforms to the financial system but did not offer any additional details regarding the future path of Fed rate hikes or balance sheet reduction. Also in focus will be European Central Bank Chair Mario Draghi who may offer clues as to when the ECB will begin to taper their Quantitative Easing program.
- Markets bounced back this week following consecutive weeks of declines. The S&P 500 gained 0.75% and closed at 2,443. The Dow Jones rose 0.71% for the week and closed at 21,814. Year to date, the S&P is up 10.54% and the Dow is up 12.14%.
- Interest rates ended the week relatively unchanged. The 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes are now yielding 1.76% and 2.17%, respectively.
- The spot price of WTI Crude Oil decreased by 1.46% this week, closing at $47.80 per barrel. Year to date, Oil prices have fallen 11.02%.
- The spot price of Gold ended the week higher by 0.55%, closing at $1,291.13 per ounce. Year to date, Gold prices are up 12.52%.
- Initial jobless claims rose by 2,000 from last week, coming in at 234,000. The Labor Department noted no factors affecting the data this week. The four week moving average for claims moved down to 238,000.
- New home sales declined by 9.4% in July, disappointing compared to consensus estimates. The July weakness was fairly broad-based with only the Midwest (+4k) seeing an increase versus declines in the Northwest (-10k), South (-14k) and the West (-39k).
- Existing home sales declined -1.3% in July, lower than expectations of a 0.5% increase. The regional data were mixed with increases in the West (+5.0%) and South (+2.2%) and decreases in the Midwest (-5.3%) and Northeast (-14.5%).
Fact of the Week
- The average interest rate paid by the U.S. government on its interest bearing debt was 2.28% as of 7/31. The average interest rate that the government was paying on its debt 10 years ago was 5.04%, or more than double what it is now. Every 1% increase in the cost of debt on our country’s $14.4 trillion of debt is equal to $144 billion of additional annual interest expense. (Source: Treasury Department)
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