The third week of September was a busy one, with several key news releases came out between Wednesday and Friday. Of course, the main event for the week was the Federal Reserve’s September meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to determine whether to increase the Fed funds rate or to keep it steady. Ultimately, the Fed decided to stay the course and keep it at 5.5 percent until at least November.
While the Fed has kept the possibility of another rate hike on the table, it’s unclear if further hiking will be necessary. According to Jerome Powell, future decisions will be dependent on data that shows price pressures easing in many sectors of the economy. According to the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement released at 2 p.m. Wednesday, a labor slowdown and tightening credit conditions may also contain future growth.
On Thursday, unemployment claims data was released, and it was revealed that 201,000 people filed for benefits in the past week. This was below the 224,000 predicted by analysts and the 221,000 claims filed one week ago. However, it’s worth noting that the 221,000 figure was revised upward from 217,000 at the time that figure was released on Sept. 14.
The Philly Fed Manufacturing Index was also released on Thursday and came in a -13.5 compared to analyst expectations of -1.1. This indicates a slowdown in the manufacturing sector in that part of the country, which could be a sign that a slowdown is coming to other parts of the country.
Finally on Thursday, existing home sales data was released and showed that 4.04 million sales took place in the past month. Analysts expected 4.07 million sales to occur, and in August, there were 4.10 million existing homes sold. Higher mortgage interest rates are cited as the main reason for the sluggish figure.
On Friday, Flash Services PMI and Flash Manufacturing PMI figures were released. The Flash Services Index came in at 50.2 percent, which was down slightly from 50.5 percent in August and was slightly lower than the 50.7 percent predicted by analysts prior to the report’s release.
Manufacturing PMI figures were slightly lower at 48.9 percent. However, this was higher than the 48.2 percent predicted by analysts and the 47.9 percent figure from last month. This indicates that manufacturing demand is holding steady while demand for services is weakening somewhat.
The S&P 500 finished the week down 119 points to finish at 4,320, which was a 2.69 percent drop. On Monday, the market made its high of the week at 4,465 and stayed in a tight range before the Fed announcement. Afterward, the market spent the rest of the week trending lower before finishing Friday at a daily and weekly low.
As with the S&P, the Nasdaq also finished the week significantly lower having lost 476 points to close Friday at 13,211. This was a 3.48 percent loss compared to Monday’s open of 13,691, which also happened to be close to the high of the week. The actual high of 13,749 was reached on Monday afternoon, and the market would remain near that level until Wednesday. After a significant drop on Wednesday, the market would make its low of the week of 13,210 on Thursday morning.
Finally, the Dow 30 would finish the week at 33,963, which represented a loss of 654 points since Monday’s open. Unlike the other two major indices, the Dow would make its high of the week on Wednesday at 34,793 just prior to the Fed’s announcement. From there, the Dow would reverse course and continue to fall through the closing bell on Friday.
This upcoming week is relatively light on news coming out of the United States. On Tuesday, the Consumer Board (CB) Consumer Confidence Index is set to be released while Thursday sees the release of final GDP figures for the last quarter. Federal Reserve Chairman Powell is scheduled to speak at 4 p.m. on Thursday, which will likely have traders on edge looking for clues about future interest rate decisions. Finally, Core Price PCE Index numbers will be revealed on Friday in addition to revised consumer sentiment and inflation expectation figures from the University of Michigan.