Week In Review
The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) released the minutes from its January/February meeting. The minutes show a more hawkish tone with several participants agreeing that a rate hike “fairly soon” would be appropriate. This suggests that a March hike is possible. However, others on the committee remain unconcerned about an overheating economy and recommend caution given the uncertainty surrounding the fiscal policies of the new administration.
As with the post-meeting statement, there was no guidance in the minutes as to the timing of the next rate hike. The FOMC believes it will raise rates this year but remains data dependent. Given the unknowns of fiscal policy, the Fed will likely maintain its wait-and-see approach and will monitor incoming data closely. Despite the hawkish tone of the minutes, the timing of the next rate hike is anyone’s guess.
Existing home sales rose 3.3% in January, while new home sales increased 3.7%.
The increase in sales may be due to a rush of homebuyers attempting to lock in low rates in front of expected Fed rate increases. Higher mortgage rates, reduced supply, and increasing prices are all challenges faced by the housing sector going forward.