Fed Raises Rate by 0.5 Percentage Point, Signals More Increases Likely | Kanebridge News
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    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,526,212 (+1.41%)       Melbourne $950,600 (-0.81%)       Brisbane $848,079 (+0.39%)       Adelaide $783,680 (+0.69%)       Perth $722,301 (+0.42%)       Hobart $727,777 (-0.40%)       Darwin $644,340 (-0.88%)       Canberra $873,193 (-2.75%)       National $960,316 (+0.31%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $711,149 (+0.79%)       Melbourne $480,050 (-0.07%)       Brisbane $471,869 (+1.52%)       Adelaide $395,455 (-0.79%)       Perth $396,215 (+0.44%)       Hobart $535,914 (-1.67%)       Darwin $365,715 (+0.11%)       Canberra $487,485 (+1.06%)       National $502,310 (+0.25%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,985 (+170)       Melbourne 11,869 (-124)       Brisbane 8,074 (+47)       Adelaide 2,298 (-22)       Perth 6,070 (+20)       Hobart 993 (+24)       Darwin 282 (-4)       Canberra 809 (+43)       National 39,380 (+154)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 7,927 (+125)       Melbourne 6,997 (+50)       Brisbane 1,822 (+3)       Adelaide 488 (+5)       Perth 1,915 (-1)       Hobart 151 (+3)       Darwin 391 (-9)       Canberra 680 (+5)       National 20,371 (+181)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $750 (-$20)       Melbourne $580 ($0)       Brisbane $590 (+$10)       Adelaide $570 (-$5)       Perth $600 ($0)       Hobart $550 ($0)       Darwin $700 (+$5)       Canberra $670 (+$10)       National $633 (-$1)                    UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $700 (-$20)       Melbourne $558 (+$8)       Brisbane $590 ($0)       Adelaide $458 (-$3)       Perth $550 ($0)       Hobart $450 ($0)       Darwin $550 ($0)       Canberra $540 (-$10)       National $559 (-$4)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 5,224 (-134)       Melbourne 5,097 (+90)       Brisbane 3,713 (-84)       Adelaide 1,027 (-3)       Perth 1,568 (-46)       Hobart 471 (-3)       Darwin 127 (+13)       Canberra 658 (-32)       National 17,885 (-199)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,171 (-343)       Melbourne 5,447 (-170)       Brisbane 1,682 (-22)       Adelaide 329 (+3)       Perth 561 (-11)       Hobart 159 (-6)       Darwin 176 (+16)       Canberra 597 (-12)       National 17,122 (-545)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 2.56% (↓)       Melbourne 3.17% (↓)     Brisbane 3.62% (↑)        Adelaide 3.78% (↓)       Perth 4.32% (↓)     Hobart 3.93% (↑)      Darwin 5.65% (↑)      Canberra 3.99% (↑)        National 3.43% (↓)            UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 5.12% (↓)       Melbourne 6.04% (↓)       Brisbane 6.50% (↓)     Adelaide 6.02% (↑)        Perth 7.22% (↓)     Hobart 4.37% (↑)      Darwin 7.82% (↑)        Canberra 5.76% (↓)       National 5.79% (↓)            HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 1.0% (↑)      Melbourne 0.7% (↑)      Brisbane 0.8% (↑)      Adelaide 0.4% (↑)        Perth 0.4% (↓)       Hobart 1.2% (↓)     Darwin 0.5% (↑)      Canberra 1.5% (↑)      National 0.8% (↑)             UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND         Sydney 1.3% (↓)     Melbourne 1.6% (↑)      Brisbane 0.9% (↑)      Adelaide 0.5% (↑)      Perth 0.7% (↑)      Hobart 2.2% 2.0% (↑)      Darwin 1.0% (↑)        Canberra 1.7% (↓)     National 1.3% (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND       Sydney 27.0 (↑)        Melbourne 28.3 (↓)     Brisbane 32.3 (↑)      Adelaide 26.3 (↑)      Perth 34.9 (↑)        Hobart 33.4 (↓)     Darwin 48.7 (↑)        Canberra 27.6 (↓)     National 32.3 (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND         Sydney 27.0 (↓)       Melbourne 29.0 (↓)     Brisbane 33.0 (↑)        Adelaide 27.5 (↓)     Perth 38.2 (↑)      Hobart 33.4 (↑)      Darwin 48.3 (↑)      Canberra 33.2 (↑)      National 33.7 (↑)            
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Fed Raises Rate by 0.5 Percentage Point, Signals More Increases Likely

Most officials penciled in plans to raise rates above 5% next year, higher than previously expected

Fri, Dec 16, 2022 8:39amGrey Clock 5 min

WASHINGTON—The Federal Reserve approved an interest-rate increase of 0.5 percentage point and signalled plans to lift rates through the spring, though likely in smaller increments, to combat high inflation.

The decision Wednesday marked a step down after four consecutive larger increases of 0.75 point and raised the benchmark federal-funds rate to a range between 4.25% and 4.5%, a 15-year high.

Markets retreated slightly after the announcement. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 142.29 points, or 0.4%, to 33966.35. The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note edged up to 3.503% from its Tuesday level of 3.501%. Yields rise as prices fall.

The latest increase capped a year in which the Fed raised rates from near zero at the fastest pace since the early 1980s to fight inflation, which is running near a 40-year high.

Fed policy makers are entering a new phase of policy tightening in which they are trying to determine just how high to raise rates. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said in a news conference it was “broadly right” that slowing rate rises to more traditional quarter-percentage-point increments as soon as the Fed’s next meeting, Jan. 31-Feb. 1, would provide the best way to manage the risk of over-tightening.

“It makes a lot of sense, it seems to me—particularly if you consider how far we’ve come,” Mr. Powell said. But he said twice that the Fed hadn’t made any decisions about upcoming meetings, and that the outcome would depend on the state of the economy and borrowing costs.

Rate increases work with what economists call long and variable lags, which means the central bankers may not know for a year or more if they have tightened too much or not enough.

In new economic projections released after the meeting, most Fed officials penciled in plans to raise the fed-funds rate to a peak level between 5% and 5.5% in 2023 and hold it there until some time in 2024. In September, they anticipated lifting the rate to around 4.6% by the end of next year.

After Wednesday’s press conference, investors in interest-rate futures markets expected the Fed to raise rates to a level just below 5% by March before pausing. Bond markets rallied when Mr. Powell hinted the Fed might raise rates by a smaller step of a quarter-point, or 25 basis points, in February, said Lee Ferridge, a senior economic strategist at State Street Global Markets.

“It’s like the new projections didn’t happen, quite honestly. And I’m surprised the market is shrugging it off so confidently,” said Mr. Ferridge. “The expectation is the economic data will be so poor” by the end of the first quarter “that the Fed will stop hiking.”

Mr. Ferridge said he wasn’t convinced the Fed would dial down the pace of rate rises again in February. “If the data comes in hot, then I think they could still go 50,” he said.

Fed rate increases this year have hit asset prices and are causing a significant slowdown in rate-sensitive sectors of the economy such as housing. But in recent weeks, longer-term bond yields have tumbled as investors anticipate a speedy decline in inflation, possibly due to a recession next year.

The fed-funds rate influences other borrowing costs throughout the economy, including rates on car loans, mortgages and business debt.

Fed officials say they combat inflation primarily by slowing the economy through tighter financial conditions—such as higher borrowing costs, lower stock prices and a stronger dollar—that curb demand. As a result, any easing of financial conditions while the Fed continues to battle inflation could raise the risk of a deeper or longer downturn if it prompts the central bank to keep lifting rates.

Mr. Powell suggested the Fed would raise rates to higher levels for longer if broader financial conditions don’t “reflect the policy restraint that we’re putting in place to bring inflation down.”

The projections released Wednesday showed considerable divergence over what might happen after next year. Around one third of officials expect to hold the fed-funds rate above 4.5% through 2024. Most officials anticipate cutting rates by around 1 percentage point in 2024.

Mr. Powell said no officials had projected rate cuts next year and that they weren’t likely to consider lowering interest rates until policy makers are confident inflation is moving down to the Fed’s 2% goal in a sustained fashion.

Data released since the Fed’s November meeting have provided a mixed picture of the economy. While domestic demand has slowed and the housing market is entering a sharp downturn, the job market has remained strong and declines in gas prices could help sustain consumer spending.

Inflation has also slowed in the past two months. Consumer prices climbed 0.1% in November from the previous month and 7.1% from a year earlier, the Labor Department said Tuesday, both down notably from comparable previous increases.

The Fed pays close attention to so-called core prices, which exclude volatile food and energy categories, as a better predictor of future inflation than overall inflation. Over the past three months, core prices increased at a 4.3% annualised rate, the lowest such reading in more than one year.

Tuesday’s inflation report “provides a compelling case for downshifting to a 25-basis-point increase in February,” said Matthew Luzzetti, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank.

“There are really good reasons for them to slow down if they can,” said Mr. Luzzetti. “I think they want to avoid pausing only to have to re-hike later, and getting down to 25 basis points allows them the best chance of avoiding that possibility.”

Mr. Powell acknowledged the improvement in the inflation rate but warned it might decline to levels that are still uncomfortably high, citing concerns that prices for labor-intensive services might rise if wage growth doesn’t slow down.

Prices of goods such as used cars are declining, a development the Fed has anticipated for more than a year, and there is evidence that rents and other housing costs are set to cool notably amid a sharp slowdown in the growth of new households.

“We welcome these better inflation reports…but I think we’re realistic about the broader project,” Mr. Powell said. Despite progress on goods and housing inflation, “the big story will really be the rest of it, and there’s not much progress there. And that’s going to take time.”

That pessimism was reflected in many Fed officials’ economic projections. Compared with September, they now anticipate a bigger increase in the unemployment rate next year and barely any economic growth.

Those projections offered “the whiff of a bumpy landing on the economic horizon,” said Daleep Singh, a former senior Fed official who is now chief global economist at PGIM Fixed Income.

Most officials expect making somewhat less progress on inflation next year than they had anticipated in September, which is one reason for projecting somewhat higher interest rates. Because central bankers believe inflation-adjusted or “real” policy rates are what matters for slowing the economy, a slower decline in inflation would require higher interest rates to achieve the same degree of economic restrictiveness.

They project core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy categories, to fall from 5% on an annual basis in October to 3.5% at the end of next year, according to their preferred gauge, the Commerce Department’s personal-consumption expenditures index. That is up from their projection of 3% in September.

Wage growth hasn’t shown meaningful signs of slowing down, particularly as companies offer higher wages to attract new workers than they pay their current workers. Some Fed officials and private-sector economists are concerned that another calendar year of high inflation could lead employees to seek and receive higher pay early next year, which could help fuel more inflation.

Fed policy makers coalesced this spring around plans to raise rates by a half-percentage point at each meeting until they saw evidence inflation was slowing. Almost as soon as those plans came together, Mr. Powell decided to accelerate the increases amid fears that very high inflation would lead consumers and businesses to expect prices to keep climbing rapidly, causing high inflation to persist. The central bank lifted rates by 0.75 percentage point in June, the largest increase in 28 years.

At the time, Mr. Powell said such big moves would be uncommon. But continued high inflation and doubts in financial markets over the Fed’s commitment to fight it led the central bank to make three more increases of that magnitude.

“What’s impressed me to no end is it hasn’t broken anything. For all the talk of crashing the economy and breaking the financial markets, it hasn’t done that,” said Fed governor Christopher Waller last month, referring to the cumulative rate increases.


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First, the good news for office landlords: A post-Labor Day bump nudged return-to-office rates in mid-September to their highest level since the onset of the pandemic.

Now the bad: Office attendance in big cities is still barely half of what it was in 2019, and company get-tough measures are proving largely ineffective at boosting that rate much higher.

Indeed, a number of forces—from the prospect of more Covid-19 cases in the fall to a weakening economy—could push the return rate into reverse, property owners and city officials say.

More than before, chief executives at blue-chip companies are stepping up efforts to fill their workspace. Facebook parent Meta Platforms, Amazon and JPMorgan Chase are among the companies that have recently vowed to get tougher on employees who don’t show upIn August, Meta told employees they could face disciplinary action if they regularly violate new workplace rules.

But these actions haven’t yet moved the national return rate needle much, and a majority of companies remain content to allow employees to work at least part-time remotely despite the tough talk.

Most employees go into offices during the middle of the week, but floors are sparsely populated on Mondays and Fridays. In Chicago, some September days had a return rate of over 66%. But it was below 30% on Fridays. In New York, it ranges from about 25% to 65%, according to Kastle Systems, which tracks security-card swipes.

Overall, the average return rate in the 10 U.S. cities tracked by Kastle Systems matched the recent high of 50.4% of 2019 levels for the week ended Sept. 20, though it slid a little below half the following week.

The disappointing return rates are another blow to office owners who are struggling with vacancy rates near record highs. The national office average vacancy rose to 19.2% last quarter, just below the historical peak of 19.3% in 1991, according to Moody’s Analytics preliminary third-quarter data.

Business leaders in New York, Detroit, Seattle, Atlanta and Houston interviewed by The Wall Street Journal said they have seen only slight improvements in sidewalk activity and attendance in office buildings since Labor Day.

“It feels a little fuller but at the margins,” said Sandy Baruah, chief executive of the Detroit Regional Chamber, a business group.

Lax enforcement of return-to-office rules is one reason employees feel they can still work from home. At a roundtable business discussion in Houston last week, only one of the 12 companies that attended said it would enforce a return-to-office policy in performance reviews.

“It was clearly a minority opinion that the others shook their heads at,” said Kris Larson, chief executive of Central Houston Inc., a group that promotes business in the city and sponsored the meeting.

Making matters worse, business leaders and city officials say they see more forces at work that could slow the return to office than those that could accelerate it.

Covid-19 cases are up and will likely increase further in the fall and winter months. “If we have to go back to distancing and mask protocols, that really breaks the office culture,” said Kathryn Wylde, head of the business group Partnership for New York City.

Many cities are contending with an increase in homelessness and crime. San Francisco, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., which are struggling with these problems, are among the lowest return-to-office cities in the Kastle System index.

About 90% of members surveyed by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce said that the city couldn’t recover until homelessness and public safety problems were addressed, said Rachel Smith, chief executive. That is taken into account as companies make decisions about returning to the office and how much space they need, she added.

Cuts in government services and transportation are also taking a toll. Wait times for buses run by Houston’s Park & Ride system, one of the most widely used commuter services, have increased partly because of labor shortages, according to Larson of Central Houston.

The commute “is the remaining most significant barrier” to improving return to office, Larson said.

Some landlords say that businesses will have more leverage in enforcing return-to-office mandates if the economy weakens. There are already signs of such a shift in cities that depend heavily on the technology sector, which has been seeing slowing growth and layoffs.

But a full-fledged recession could hurt office returns if it results in widespread layoffs. “Maybe you get some relief in more employees coming back,” said Dylan Burzinski, an analyst with real-estate analytics firm Green Street. “But if there are fewer of those employees, it’s still a net negative for office.”

The sluggish return-to-office rate is leading many city and business leaders to ask the federal government for help. A group from the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition recently met with elected officials in Washington, D.C., lobbying for incentives for businesses that make commitments to U.S. downtowns.

Baruah, from the Detroit chamber, was among the group. He said the chances of such legislation being passed were low. “We might have to reach crisis proportions first,” he said. “But we’re trying to lay the groundwork now.”


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