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Economic Update 03/20/17



As expected, the Federal Reserve raised the target range for the federal funds rate by a quarter-point last week to 0.75-1.00%. “The simple message is, the economy is doing well,” Fed chair Janet Yellen explained to the media following the move. The central bank’s dot-plot table still projects two more rate increases during the balance of 2017, with three rate hikes envisioned for both 2018 and 2019.     


February’s Consumer Price Index displayed only a 0.1% gain, compared to 0.6% in January. Core consumer prices moved 0.2% higher. The small February increase still left the headline CPI up 2.7% in the past 12 months. The Producer Price Index rose 0.3% for February, putting its yearly advance at 2.2%.    


The initial March University of Michigan consumer sentiment index came in at 97.6 Friday, 1.3 points above its final February mark. Thanks mainly to “improved personal finances” among households, the index’s current economic conditions component hit a 17-year high. A Census Bureau report showed retail purchases up 0.1% in February, 0.2% with car and gasoline buying factored out.


Wall Street saw the March 15 Federal Reserve policy decision as an affirmation of the economy’s health; equities investors were not at all riled. Ending the week at 5,901.00, the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.67% in five days. The S&P 500 rose 0.24% in the same period to settle at 2,378.25 Friday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average added just 0.06% across five trading sessions on the way to a Friday close of 20,914.62. Losing 3.26% in five days, the CBOE Volatility Index ended the week at 11.28.

THIS WEEK: Monday, nothing major is scheduled. Earnings announcements from FedEx, General Mills, Lands’ End, Nike, and Steelcase appear Tuesday. Wednesday, Wall Street reviews February existing home sales and earnings reports from Cintas, Five Below, Perry Ellis, and Winnebago. Thursday morning, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen delivers a keynote address at a Fed conference in Washington, D.C.; in addition, investors will eye the latest initial claims report, February’s new home sales report, and earnings news from Accenture, GameStop, KB Home, Micron Technology, Shoe Carnival, and Sportsman’s Warehouse. Friday offers a report on February hard goods orders and Q4 results from Finish Line.

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Robert Pagliarini, PhD, CFP®, EA has helped clients across the United States manage, grow, and preserve their wealth for the past 25 years. His goal is to provide comprehensive financial, investment, and tax advice in a way that was honest and ethical. In addition, he is a CFP® Board Ambassador, one of only 50 in the country, and a real fiduciary. In his spare time, he writes personal finance books, finance articles for Forbes and develops email and video financial courses to help educate others. With decades of experience as a financial advisor, the media often calls on him for his expertise. Contact Robert today to learn more about his financial planning services.

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