Week Ending May 21 Financial Markets Update

The minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee, dated April 27-28, 2021, were released last Wednesday and they noted that expectations for policy outlook were relatively unchanged. The model survey path continued to imply that the target range would increase to just above 2 percent into 2026. No changes for expected asset purchases were noted. The committee noted that reserve balances have risen to a record $3.9 trillion. The economic outlook was favorable with the FOMC seeing real GDP growth projected to post a substantial rise this year and unemployment decline; but they expect GDP growth to step down in 2022 and 2023. They expect monetary policy to remain highly accommodative and real GDP growth to stay above trend with unemployment falling to historically low levels.

Both of last week’s housing reports registered declines. Tuesday’s housing starts data showed a 9.5% fall for April, well short of expectations. Single-family starts were responsible for all of the decline and supply chain restrictions, lumber costs and labor shortages, were called out as cause. Thursday’s existing home sales data wasn’t much better as it declined 2.7% in April also from single-family homes. Median prices, however, continued to rise and were up 19.1% versus the year before.


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