Everyone was right: Fed raises rates
As expected by just about everyone, the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark lending rate a quarter point and projected two more increases later this year as inflation approaches its target. Bloomberg reported that investors had expected the increase to a range of 0.75 to 1 percent following unusually clear signals from FOMC members, including Chairwoman Janet Yellen. Yields on two-year U.S. Treasuries declined about 6 basis points by Wednesday afternoon and 10-year yields fell 9 basis points on the news. The rise also caused the S&P 500 Index to inch up 0.6 percent.
Home builder confidence soars
A monthly index of builder sentiment jumped six points to the highest level in 12 years this month, according to CNBC. Builders are being encouraged by President Trump’s actions on regulatory reform in recent weeks. In particular, last month the president signed an order that rolls back a 2015 rule from the Obama administration that dealt with keeping waterways safe. Builders are also expecting further deregulation from the White House and welcome the shift away from a “burdensome” regulatory environment that drives up construction costs.
American retail sinks
U.S. retail sales recorded their smallest increase in six months in February as households cut back on car sales and discretionary spending. Reuters reported the Commerce Department said retail sales edged up only 0.1 percent, the weakest reading since August. Experts say that sales were likely held back by delays in issuing tax refunds this year as a part of efforts by the government to combat fraud. While February’s sales were weak, sales from January were revised upwards to show a 0.6 percent increase as opposed to the initially reported 0.4 percent jump.
A peek at Trump’s taxes
Donald Trump paid $38 million in federal taxes in 2005 on an income of $153 million and reported a $105 million write-down in business losses, reports the Washington Post. That means that the President paid an effective tax rate of 24 percent and saved millions of dollars in additional taxes by claiming the losses. The President, whose tax returns were a flashpoint throughout last year’s election cycle, released a statement chastising the release of his tax information and calling it “fake news.”