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FOMC Quantitative Easing
FOMC Quantitative Easing

U.S. stocks continued their losses for a second day on Wednesday after minutes from Federal Open Market Committee Minutes were released, showing an active discussion of a third round of quantitative easing. For every stock rising, more than two fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where 312 million shares traded as of 2:25 pm Eastern Time with Composite volume nearing 2 billion shares. The U.S. dollar (DXY)  fell against other currencies, including the euro (EURUSD) .

Federal Open Market Committee Minutes from the July 31-Augist 1 meeting released Wednesday show that members of the Federal Reserve appear to be closer to a third round of bond buying by the Fed, known as QE3 - even as a less aggressive step of altering language on a low-rate pledge seems to be in the works. Economic data have stabilized since August 1, but it’s not at all clear that the improvement in the economic data has been 'substantial' enough to forestall further action by the Fed. "Many members judged that additional monetary accommodation would likely be warranted fairly soon unless incoming information pointed to a substantial and sustainable strengthening in the pace of the economic recovery," the minutes said. The first alternative for action listed is essentially what the markets anticipated for the August 1 meeting - a change in the date over which the central bank expected to keep its target range for the federal funds rate between 0% and 0.25%, perhaps in conjunction with a statement saying a 'highly accommodative stance' was likely to be maintained even as the recovery progressed. The second idea tossed around is what's commonly called 'QE3' - or in the words from the minutes, 'a new large-scale asset purchase program'. According to the minutes, 'many participants' said that a new large-scale asset-purchase program could “provide additional support for the economic recovery” by lowering long-term interest rates and by “contributing to easier financial conditions more broadly.” Others said that QE3 could help by boosting business and consumer confidence. With the economy growing at a mediocre 2% annual pace, with inflation subdued and unemployment at unacceptable levels, the Fed fears that the economy is too weak to sustain another blow from outside. With Europe sliding toward a breakup and Congress skidding closer to the fiscal cliff, the odds of another economic shock are rising daily.

The National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday, existing home sales climbed 2.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.47 million in July, roughly in line with the 4.5 million consensus. The median price of existing home sales climbed 9.4% year-on-year to $187,300 while inventories rose 1.3% to 2.4 million units, representing 6.4 months of supply. Due to an embargo break by a news organization, the data was released early.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated in a report on Wednesday that the U.S. government will run a budget deficit of $1.1 trillion in fiscal 2012, or 7.3% of gross domestic product. The new budget deficit estimate came in slightly lower than March estimate of $1.2 trillion. If scheduled tax increases and spending cuts take effect in January, the nonpartisan CBO predicts that the U.S. economy will grow at a 2.1% clip in 2012, but fall by 0.5% between Q4 of 2012 and Q4 of 2013. Under that 'fiscal cliff', the U.S. would experience a recession, with U.S. unemployment jumping to nearly 9% in the second half of 2013 from its current 8.3%, CBO said. Previously, the CBO said growth would be 0.5% in 2013 under the fiscal cliff.


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Aug 22, 2012


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