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The U.S. Federal Reserve met last week and decided to leave its policy rate unchanged, as was widely expected. The Fed also issued a brief accompanying statement, which gave us its latest assessment of how the U.S. economy is progressing. Here are the highlights from that statement:
- The Fed sounded a little more upbeat about some of the recent data, noting that “near-term risks to the economic outlook have diminished”.
- The Fed observed that “household spending has been growing strongly but business fixed investment has been soft”. I will expand on this key point below.
- The Fed observed that “the labour market strengthened”, and that “economic activity had been expanding at a moderate rate”. It was encouraged that “job gains were strong in June”, but it also acknowledged “weak growth in May”. The Fed also noted that its dashboard of labour market indicators pointed toward some “increase in labor utilization in recent months”.
- The Fed did not appear concerned about the effects of recent labour-market improvements on inflation, noting that “inflation has continued to run below the Committee's 2 percent longer-run objective” and that “market-based measures of inflation compensation remain low”. The Fed added that “longer-term inflation expectations are little changed, on balance, in recent months”.