The Fed December FOMC meeting brought no surprises, as the group decided to keep interest rates steady, extend debt purchase program of at least $120B until “substantial further progress has been made,” and reinforced their prediction that rates would be kept close to zero for at least the next two years.
Initial jobless claims continued to tick up through the holiday season, increasing to 885K vs. 853K the week prior. Expectations anticipated a slight improvement to 818K. However, those expectations were shown to be too optimistic. The increase
marks the second consecutive week of notable increases in the claims figures that outpaced the consensus.
The Conference Board's Leading Index stayed in positive territory for November, at 0.6%, and kept the index in positive territory for the seventh consecutive month.
Retail sales posted their second consecutive month of month-over-month declines, with November sales declining 1.1%. November's decline follows October's -0.1% reading. While expectations were for a dip, the decline was worse than the 0.3% decline expectations. These declines will likely pressure Q4 GDP figures as the consumer was the primary expected growth driver.
The Pfizer vaccine began to be administered across the country following emergency approval late last week. The Moderna vaccine looks likely to clear that same hurdle and is on pace for next week's rollout after the FDA's advisory panel recommended approval on Thursday.