Business News

Stocks and Interest Rates

U.S. stocks ended with slight losses yesterday in a volatile trading session, as investors digested an interest-rate hike and the latest commentary from the Federal Reserve.

The U.S. central bank raised interest rates for the sixth time since the end of 2015, as had been widely expected, and it stuck to its prior forecast of three rate hikes in 2018. Some investors had expected a more aggressive pace, with four hikes this year. However, the outlook for 2019 did move up; the Fed expects three rate hikes in 2019, rather than two.

Sales of previously-owned homes snapped a two-month losing streak, jumping 3.0% from January.  It’s a familiar story for housing: supply of homes for sale were at the lowest level for any February on record. At February’s sales pace, it would take 3.4 months to exhaust available inventory, about half the amount of time considered a marker of a healthy market. Supply was 8.1% lower than a year ago, and homes spent an average of 37 days on the market.

It has taken a little more than six months for the U.S. national debt to grow by a trillion dollars.  Last week, the debt hit $21 trillion for the first time, rising from the $20 trillion mark it notched on September 8th.

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