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NWQWM Morning Financial Report

Investors have been hit with an early surprise before the release of today's FOMC meeting minutes, which were supposed to give some clues about a reduction of the central bank's $9T balance sheet following a quarter-point rate hike in March. The clues are no longer needed. Fed Vice Chair Lael Brainard pre-empted the minutes on Tuesday by saying a "rapid" reduction could happen as soon as May, calling the move "of paramount importance" to bring down inflationary forces, while the Fed is prepared to take stronger action if indicators show such action is warranted.

 

The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage just crossed 5%, marking the first time it has passed the threshold since 2011 (save two days in 2018). It wasn't that long ago that consumers could have refinanced their mortgages below 3%, but the majority of those applications have since dried up. Homebuyers are also facing a pricey housing market, with a report from CoreLogic showing prices in February were up 20% from a year ago, marking the 12th consecutive month of annual increases.

 

The contest to buy Spirit Airlines is heating up as a drive to consolidate takes off in the budget airline sector. JetBlue just offered $3.6B, or $33/per share, for the Florida-based carrier, which is roughly 40% more than the bid advanced by Frontier Airlines in February. Spirit's board said it will work with its financial and legal advisors to evaluate the latest deal and pursue what's in the best interest of shareholders.

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