Daily Market Color

Happy Fed-mas Eve

Risk assets caught a break from recent selling as stocks, crude oil, and credit markets all rallied back off recent lows as the Fed starts its two-day policy meeting.  A 25 bp interest rate hike is widely expected to be announced tomorrow, but special attention will be paid to the Fed’s guidance regarding the pace of future hikes.  In addition to the FOMC statement at 2pm ET, the Fed will release its updated economic forecasts, followed by Yellen’s press conference.  The press conference will serve as a forum for Yellen to reiterate some of the Fed’s recent themes: policy is still very accommodative, the pace of hikes will be gradual, and the FOMC could speed up or slow down the pace of subsequent rate hikes based on incoming data.

After being largely absent yesterday, there were a number of notable US economic data releases today, headlined by the November reading of the Consumer Price Index.  The report showed the US cost of living held steady last month, kept in check due to a 1.3% fall in energy costs.  Core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, increased 0.2% for the third consecutive month.  Headline CPI is up 0.5% YoY, while core prices have increased 2% during the same period.  A separate report showed factory activity in the New York region contracted for a fifth straight month in December, although less than expected and at a slower pace than last month.  A gauge of future business activity in the region surged from 20.3 to 38.5.

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