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The US inflation rate picked up in February, as prices for petrol and housing pushed higher.

According to the Labor Department, he annual rate, which measures the pace of price increases, was 3.2% in February, up from 3.1% in January.

Airfare, car insurance and clothing were among the items driving the increase over the month.

Grocery prices, which have jumped in recent years, fuelling public discontent, were unchanged.

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The monthly report comes during a critical presidential election year and as the The Federal Reserve is debating the next step in its fight to rein in prices.Inflation has slowed significantly since the Fed started hiking borrowing costs sharply in 2022 and the central bank is expected to start reversing course and cutting interest rates sometime this year.

However, calls for the first cut to come as soon as March have been revised as recent inflation readings show progress stalling, with many now expecting its first move in June or later.

Analysts said the figures were affected by seasonal price adjustments tied to the start of the year, but that the overall report was likely to reinforce the Fed’s determination to remain cautious.

The US economy has so far held up better than expected in the face of inflation and higher borrowing costs, but persistent price rises have hampered President Joe Biden’s ability to sell his policies to voters and could pose risks to the economy in the months ahead.

The Labor Department said petrol prices rose by 3.8% between January and February, while airline fares rose 3.6%.

Grocery prices showed little change over the month, as higher prices for items such as cereal, bread and eggs were offset by lower meat and fresh fruit costs.

Overall, grocery prices were 1% higher than a year earlier.

Housing costs rose 0.4% over the month and 5.7% from February 2023.

The US economy will be affected by the coronavirus pandemic for almost a decade, according to projections by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The CBO forecasts the outbreak will cut US economic output by 3% between this year and 2030, a loss of $7.9 trillion.

The warning comes as tens of millions of people are out of work due to lockdown measures.

The CBO is a federal agency within the US government that provides budget and economic information to Congress.

America’s historic downturn comes even after trillions of dollars have been pumped into the economy.

Image source Wikimedia

Coronavirus: 33.3 Million Americans Filed Unemployment Claims in Last Six Weeks

The CBO said the majority of the loss was caused by the sharp contraction in economic activity this year, which it had not predicted in its last 10-year report, published in January.

CBO director Phillip Swagel wrote in response to an inquiry from Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer: “Business closures and social distancing measures are expected to curtail consumer spending, while the recent drop in energy prices is projected to severely reduce US investment in the energy sector.”

“Recent legislation will, in CBO’s assessment, partially mitigate the deterioration in economic conditions,” he added.

Since the virus pandemic hit the US the government and the Fed have provided trillions of dollars of support for the world’s biggest economy.

Still, unemployment has soared to levels not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s as more than 40 million Americans have already been put out of work.

The US unemployment rate hit 14.7% in April and on June 5 the Labor Department is expected to confirm that it reached 20% in May. In March that figure stood at just 4.4% having risen from a 50-year low from the month before.

There is an ongoing debate in the Congress over a new $3 trillion a new stimulus plan as well as a proposal to renew several federal aid programs that would otherwise lapse, including a temporary increase to jobless benefits that is set to expire in July.

The number of US unemployment claims has hit 33.3 million since mid-March amid coronavirus lockdown, about 20% of the US workforce.

A further 3.2 million Americans sought unemployment benefits last week as the economic toll from the coronavirus pandemic continued to mount.

The number of new claims reported each week by the Department of Labor has subsided since hitting a peak of 6.9 million in March.

However, they remain extraordinarily high.

The number of Americans collecting benefits has continued to rise, despite recent moves to start re-opening in some parts of the country.

Photo Getty Images

Companies such as Lyft, Uber and Airbnb are amongst the companies that have announced cuts in recent weeks, as shutdowns halted significant amounts of travel.

The impact has been felt across the economy, affecting medical practices, restaurants and administrative workers among many others.

Economists say the monthly unemployment rate for April, which will be released on May 8, is likely to reach 15% or higher.

Just two months ago, the unemployment rate was at 3.5%, a 50-year low.

Since the coronavirus has taken hold in the US, the country has suffered its worst growth numbers in a decade, the worst retail sales report on record and declines in business activity not seen since the 2008 financial crisis.

Meanwhile, weeks of elevated unemployment claims have far surpassed the prior record of 700,000.

Coronavirus: More than 6.6 Million Americans File for Unemployment Last Week
Coronavirus: More US States Announce Lockdown Orders

Food pantries have seen spikes in demand, and homeowners and renters have delayed monthly payments.

The National Multifamily Housing Council – an industry group for apartment owners – reported last month that nearly a third of renters did not make their full payment by the first of the month.

Economists are hoping the pain will ease as businesses gradually restart.

Retailers such as Gap have already announced plans for re-opening some stores. Others, including J Crew and department store Neiman Marcus, have been pushed into bankruptcy.

Moody’s Investors Service has predicted that the US unemployment rate could fall back to 7% by the end of the year, but that forecast depends on the virus. The longer the shutdown persists, the harder it will be for the economy to rebound.

President Donald Trump has given governors guidance on reopening state economies in the coming months as the new coronavirus continues to spread across the US.

“Opening up America Again” guidelines outline three phases for states to gradually ease their lockdowns.

President Trump promised governors they would be handling the process themselves, with help from the federal government.

However, there has been a mixed reception to the plans, with a leading Democrat calling them vague and inconsistent.

The US currently has 699,044 confirmed cases and 36,849 deaths due to the virus, and President Trump has suggested some states could reopen this month.

In his daily briefing on April 16, the president declared “the next front in our war – opening up America again”.

He said: “America wants to be open and Americans want to be open. A national shutdown is not a sustainable long-term solution.”

The president said that a prolonged lockdown risked inflicting a serious toll on public health. He warned of a “sharp rise” in drug abuse, alcohol abuse, heart disease, and other “physical and mental” problems.

He told reporters that healthy citizens would be able to return to work “as conditions allow”. He said Americans would continue to be called upon to maintain social distancing measures and to stay home if they are unwell.

President Trump said that reopening the US economy would be done “one careful step at a time” but he called on state governors to move “very, very quickly, depending on what they want to do”.

Shortly afterwards, leading Democrat Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, called the new guidelines “vague and inconsistent”.

Nancy Pelosi said the document did “nothing to make up for the president’s failure to listen to the scientists and produce and distribute national rapid testing”.

Coronavirus: US Lost 20 Million Jobs Over the Last Four Weeks

Coronavirus: US Unemployment Rate Surges for Third Week

Coronavirus: More than 6.6 Million Americans File for Unemployment Last Week

The Trump administration’s 18-page guidance document details three phases to reopen state economies, with each phase lasting, at minimum, 14 days.

The guidelines include some recommendations across all three phases including good personal hygiene and employers developing policies to ensure social distancing, testing and contact tracing.

Phase one includes much of the current lockdown measures such as avoiding non-essential travel and not gathering in groups. But it says large venues such as restaurants, places of worship and sports venues “can operate under strict physical distancing protocols”.

If there is no evidence of a resurgence of the coronavirus, phase two allows non-essential travel to resume. The guidance says schools can reopen and bars can operate “with diminished standing-room occupancy”.

Under phase three, states which are still seeing a downward trend of symptoms and cases can allow “public interactions” with physical distancing and the unrestricted staffing of worksites. Visits to care homes and hospitals can resume and bars can increase their standing room capacity.

According to the document, some regions could begin returning to normal after a month-long evaluation period, at the earliest.

In places where there are more infections or where rates begin to rise, it could take longer.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the co-ordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, told at the April 16 briefing that as states worked through the three phases, they could allow for more and more employees to return to work in increments.

Phase three would be the “new normal”, she said, and would still include suggestions that vulnerable people should avoid crowded spaces.

The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates again despite President Donald Trump’s opposition.

The Fed’s key interest rate has been increased by 0.25% to a target range of 2.25%-2.5%.

However, the Fed officials also said future increases could come at a slower pace amid concerns about global growth.

The move comes two days after President Trump warned the Fed against making “yet another mistake” in raising rates, urging it instead to “feel the market”.

The president also urged the bank not to wind down a multi-billion dollar stimulus program brought in after the financial crisis.

President Trump – who appointed the Fed’s chairman, Jerome Powell – has repeatedly blamed the central bank for unsettled markets and dismissed analysts who cite other factors, such as rising trade tariffs.

His remarks have put pressure on the Fed, as presidents generally avoid criticizing the bank publicly, for fear of politicizing the institution.

Fed Raises Interest Rate by 0.25% for Third Time In A Decade

Federal Reserve Raises Interest Rates by 0.25 Percentage Points

President Trump tweeted: “I hope the people over at the Fed will read today’s Wall Street Journal Editorial before they make yet another mistake. Also, don’t let the market become any more illiquid than it already is. Stop with the 50 B’s. Feel the market, don’t just go by meaningless numbers. Good luck!”

At a press conference on December 19, Jerome Powell defended the Fed’s independence, saying that political pressure played “no role whatsoever” in its discussions or decisions.

The Fed’s chairman added that the central bank had no plans to change its ongoing reduction of its portfolio of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities.

The central bank has been gradually raising the benchmark rate since 2015, moving the US away from the ultra-low rates put in place during the financial crisis to spur economic activity.

The decision, which was widely expected, marked the ninth increase since 2015 and the fourth this year.

However, the moves have made borrowing more expensive, contributing to slowdowns in some sectors, such as housing.

With economic growth expected to slow, some worry that further increases risk stifling economic activity.

On December 19, officials did cut their forecasts for economic growth in 2019 to 2.3%, down from the 2.5% they anticipated in September.

Estimates released by the bank showed most Fed members expect two rate increases in 2019 – not three, as previously forecast.

It follows a downturn in financial markets and concerns about slowing growth in the US and abroad.

However, Jerome Powell said the strength of the US economy – which is expected to grow about 3% this year – justified another rate rise, despite recent “cross currents” that have weakened the outlook.

He said: “We think this move was appropriate for what is a very healthy economy.

“Policy at this point does not need to be accommodative.”

In its official statement, the Fed also said increases to its benchmark rate would help the US economy sustain its expansion, keeping the unemployment rate low and inflation near 2%.

Shares sank after the announcement, reversing earlier gains. The Dow and S&P 500 closed about 1.5% lower, while the NASDAQ fell than 2%.

The US economy expanded at an annual pace of 3% in Q3 of 2017, which was stronger than expected.

The growth extended the robust activity reported in Q2, when GDP grew at an annual pace of 3.1%.

Analysts had been expecting a sharp slowdown after back-to-back hurricanes battered several states in the quarter.

However, consumer spending held steady, despite a drop in homebuilding investment.

According to the Commerce Department, together the two quarters mark the strongest six months of economic activity for the US since 2014.

Consumer spending, which increased at a hearty 3.3% rate in the second quarter, slowed to 2.4% growth – a deceleration probably caused by the hurricanes.

Construction spending also fell, but exports and business investments in equipment and intellectual property accelerated from Q2.

Image source The Blue Diamond Gallery

US Economy Adds 209,000 Jobs in July 2017

IMF Cuts US Economy Growth Forecasts

US Economy Slows Dramatically in Q1 2017

Economists warned that estimates of business inventories, a major factor in the GDP rise, can vary significantly quarter-to-quarter.

Excluding that category, GDP – a broad measure of goods and services made in the US – increased at an annual pace of 2.3%.

The Commerce Department cautioned that its figures did not capture all the losses caused by the storms, which caused widespread closures of factories, offices and airports in states such as Florida and Texas.

Its GDP estimates, for example, do not measure activity in US territories, such as Puerto Rico, which suffered some of the most severe damage.

The Commerce Department estimated that storm-related damage to fixed assets, such as homes and government buildings, totaled more than $131 billion.

It also said it expected the government and insurers to pay more than $100 billion in insurance claims, with foreign companies accounting for more than $17.4 billion.

Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross claimed Friday’s GDP report a sign of progress, calling it a “remarkable achievement in light of the recent hurricanes”.

President Donald Trump has made hitting annual GDP growth of 3% a goal, and pledged tax cuts and other policies intended to reach that pace or higher.

On a year-on-year basis, GDP was up 2.3%, the Commerce Department said in its report, which is an advance estimate that will be revised as more data is collected.

That pace is roughly in line with US expansion since the 2007-2009 recession.

Economists said the underlying economic strength shown in the report makes it more likely that central bankers at the Fed will raise interest rates again by the end of the year, as expected.

The price index for consumer spending, a closely-watched measure of inflation, increased at 1.3% in Q3, excluding food and energy. That remains below the Fed’s 2% target.

The IMF has cuts its growth forecasts for the US economy due to uncertainty about White House policies.

The organization now expects growth of 2.1% in 2017 and 2018, against earlier estimates of 2.3% in 2017 and 2.5% in 2018.

The forecast is also below the 3% rate targeted by the White House.

Proposals such as cuts to spending on programs that benefit low and middle income households could lead to even slower growth, the IMF warned.

“The consultation revealed differences on a range of policies and left open questions as to whether the administration’s proposed policy strategies are best suited to achieve their intended purpose,” the IMF said.

US Economy Adds 211,000 Jobs in April 2017

The US is enjoying its third longest economic expansion since 1850.

However, the US is having trouble adjusting to the challenges produced by technology and demographic changes, the IMF said.

The US economy is also “effectively” at full employment, making further growth difficult, the IMF said. Meanwhile poverty and income divisions have inhibited demand.

The organization said it supported ideas such as tax reform, family leave policies and investment in infrastructure as a way to boost growth.

US Economy Slows Dramatically in Q1 2017

However, the IMF cautioned against some of the other measures supported by the Trump administration.

It urged the US to preserve the current system of financial oversight, maintain a commitment to free trade and retain recent gains in health insurance coverage.

The IMF’s earlier forecasts had assumed the economy would receive a boost from the Trump administration’s policies, but it has now dropped those assumptions.

The IMF said: “During the Article IV consultation it became evident that many details about these plans are still undecided.

“Given these policy uncertainties, the IMF’s macroeconomic forecast uses a baseline assumption of unchanged policies.”

US jobs growth was bigger than expected in April as businesses added 211,000 posts.

According to the US Department of Labor figures, the unemployment rate dropped slightly to 4.4%, compared with 4.5% in March.

The rebound in the jobs market could pave the way for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates in June.

The US economy needs to create 75,000 to 100,000 jobs a month to keep pace with growth in the working-age population.

An unemployment rate of anything under 5% is considered to indicate full employment. The rate of 4.4% is the lowest since May 2007.

The rise in employment was driven by the leisure and hospitality sectors, health care and social assistance, financial activities and mining.

The report also showed average hourly earnings rose by 2.5% year-on-year, although this was down slightly on March’s figure.

Recent GDP figures showed the US economy grew at an annual rate of 0.7% in the first three months of this year, the slowest rate since the first quarter of 2014, raising concerns that the economy could be weakening.

Earlier this week, the Fed kept its key interest rate on hold in a range of 0.75% to 1%.

However, central bank also said it viewed “the slowing in growth during the first quarter as likely to be transitory” and still expected economic activity to “expand at a moderate pace”.

According to official data, the US economy slowed dramatically in the first quarter of 2017.

GDP expanded at an annual rate of 0.7% in Q1 of 2017, which was a sharp slowdown from the 2.1% growth rate in the final three months of 2016.

It was also the lowest rate of growth since Q1 of 2014, when the economy contracted by 1.2%.Sustainable Economy In Afghanistan

The Bureau of Economic Analysis blamed lower levels of government spending and private investment.

In recent years GDP growth has often been sluggish in the first quarter, but has picked up later in the year.

Meanwhile economists blame that trend on the way the data is collected.

Nancy Curtin, chief investment officer at Close Brothers Asset Management, said: “US GDP figures are typically weaker in the first quarter, so this reading is in line with the seasonal trend.

“We haven’t yet had the expected fiscal stimulus from Trump, the effects of which may not be seen until the end of this year or the start of 2018.”

Nancy Curtin also pointed out that other data suggested strength in the US economy: “While investors might be disappointed with the reading, it has been a steady start to the year with inflation looking benign, a resilient jobs market and positive PMI [purchasing managers’] data.”

US economy added 227,000 jobs in January 2017, which is way above economists’ forecasts of about 175,000.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the figure compares with December’s rise of 157,000, revised up slightly from last month’s first estimate.

However, average pay barely rose, and the number of people working part-time but looking for full-time work rose.

The jobs growth suggests that new president Donald Trump has inherited a stronger jobs market.

President Trump has promised to create 25 million jobs over 10 years to become “the greatest jobs president… ever”.

Photo Getty Images

President Barack Obama’s term from January 2009-2017 saw the number of people with jobs increase by 11.25 million.

The job gains in January 2017 occurred in retailing, construction, and financial activities.

The number of unemployed people at 7.6 million was little changed. The unemployment rate edged up slightly to 4.8% from 4.7% in December 2016, but this was due to more people looking for work.

The percentage of adults working or looking for jobs increased to its highest level since September.

As a US presidential candidate, Donald Trump frequently argued that the government’s jobs data exaggerated the health of the economy.

Donald Trump called the unemployment rate a “hoax” and said it declined after the recession under Barack Obama mainly because many Americans stopped working or looking for work.

The Federal Reserve remained positive on the economy, as it kept interest rates on hold in its first meeting since President Donald Trump took office.

The central bank ruled unanimously to keep its benchmark interest rate in a range of 0.5% to 0.75%.

It said the jobs market and economic activity had continued to strengthen.

“Measures of consumer and business sentiment have improved of late,” the Fed also said in a statement.

It had raised its benchmark interest rate by 0.25% in December, only the second increase in a decade.

President Donald Trump has promised to boost growth through tax cuts, spending and deregulation, raising the prospect of higher inflation.

Fed chief Janet Yellen warned last month that, with the economy near full employment, the central bank risked a “nasty surprise” on inflation if it was too slow with rate hikes.

On February 1, the Fed said inflation “will rise to 2% over the medium term”, but did not comment on the effect of the Trump administration’s plans.

Despite being upbeat, the Fed also signaled the Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC), the body which sets rates, would still only make “gradual increases”.

It did not give any update on when the body might next raise rates.

Investors were hoping for guidance on when the next rise would be and how many were planned for this year.

Official figures last week indicated the US economy grew at an annual pace of 1.9% in Q4 of 2016, a slowdown from growth in the previous quarter of 3.5%.

However, the Fed’s outlook suggested “the economy continues to chug along and sentiment has improved”, said Brian Jacobson, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo.

The dollar and US stock markets were little changed on the Fed’s announcement, as investors had widely expected rates to be left untouched.

The Dow Jones index rose 0.1% at 19,891 points. The S&P 500 index moved less than 1 point to 2,279 and the NASDAQ edged up 0.5% at 5,643.

According to new figures, the US economic growth slowed to an annual pace of 0.5% in Q1 of 2016.

That was a sharp fall from the 1.4% rate of growth in Q4 of 2015 and the slowest pace in two years.

The slowdown, which was bigger than most economists forecast, has been blamed on a fall in domestic demand and a strong dollar that has put a brake on exports.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

With shoppers buying less, businesses have been reluctant to order new stock.

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the US economy, increased at a rate of 1.9%, down from 2.4% in the previous quarter.

Business investment fell by 5.9% – the biggest quarterly decline since the depths of the financial crisis in 2009.

Oil and gas exploration fell by a record 86% as energy companies cut back on spending following the dramatic slide in oil prices.

Although cheaper oil has given consumers more spare cash, it has also cut the profits of businesses dependent on the oil industry.

Despite the economy slowing, unemployment fell below 5% in January, and April 29 jobs report is expected to show steady growth in employment numbers.

On April 28, the Federal Reserve said that “labor market conditions have improved further even as growth in economic activity appears to have slowed”.

According to the latest figures released by the Labor Department, the US economy has created 215,000 jobs in March 2016, a little less than it did in the last month when 242,000 jobs were created.

The unemployment rate has risen to 5% from 4.9%, which was an eight-year low.

According to the Labor Department, more Americans were finding jobs, which suggested a sign of confidence in the US economy.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

The increase could allow a cautious Federal Reserve to raise interest rates gradually this year.

The US economy is continuing to create jobs, despite a global economic slowdown and cheap oil prices which have hit the energy sector.

The gains were in the service sectors, especially retail, health and education and leisure and hospitality. There were also new jobs in government and construction.

The unemployment figures for January and February have been revised slightly down to show 1,000 fewer jobs created than previously reported.

Financial markets have almost priced out the likelihood of a rate rise at the Fed’s June policy meeting.

A survey from CME FedWatch suggests a 47% chance of an increase in November, with 57% suggesting it would happen in December.

According to official figures, the US economy grew at an annualized rate of 1.4% in Q4 of 2015.

The US Commerce Department revised its Q4 GDP to upward from an initial estimate of 0.7%.

Overall, the US economy is estimated to have grown at a rate of 2.4% for all of 2015.

One reason for the revised figure was greater consumer spending than officials initially thought, boosted by an improving labor market.

Analysts had expected the fourth quarter growth rate to remain unchanged from the last estimate of 1%.US economic growth

Increased employment has helped to slowly boost wages and housing prices, while low oil prices have increased discretionary spending by US households.

The stronger growth rate could increase the chances of an interest rate hike when the Federal Reserve meets in April. The Fed left rates unchanged at its meeting in March, saying the slowing global economy raised risks for the US market.

US corporate profits dipped 11.5% for Q4 compared to the same October through December period in the previous year.

Companies were hurt by low oil prices, with some industrial and petroleum linked companies forced to cut their workforces or file for bankruptcy.

The US growth rate has been revised upwards for Q4 of 2015, according to the latest official figures.

The economy grew at an annualized pace of 1% in Q4, compared with an initial estimate of 0.7%.

Most economists had taken a more pessimistic view, expecting the figure would be revised downwards.

However, businesses bought more stock than previously estimated, which meant inventory levels were $13 billion higher.US economic growth 2015

The downside is that next month’s growth figures may be lower than expected if businesses do get round to cutting back on inventory spending.

Some forecasts put the growth rate for the first three months of 2016 as high as 2.5%.

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity, rose at a 2% pace in Q4, rather than the 2.2% rate previously estimated.

Cheap oil and lower heating bills from a mild winter has helped consumer confidence.

The chair of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen has indicated that rates could rise gradually through the year if the economy grows strongly enough.

However, many economists believe US growth will be held back by slowing economies round the world from China to Brazil, pushing down the prices of raw materials and leading to deflation.

A Reuters survey this month estimated that the top 30 global oil companies had cut their budgets by an average of 40%.

The head of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, has warned financial conditions in the US had become “less supportive” of growth.

The Fed released Janet Yellen’s prepared comments ahead of her latest appearance before Congress.

The central bank raised interest rates by 0.25% for the first time in nine years in December 2015.

In the prepared testimony, Janet Yellen said: “Financial conditions in the United States have recently become less supportive of growth, with declines in broad measures of equity prices, higher borrowing rates for riskier borrowers and a further appreciation of the dollar.

“Against this backdrop, the [Federal Reserve] Committee expects that with gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace in coming years and that labor market indicators will continue to strengthen.”

Janet Yellen added China’s “unclear” currency policy was fuelling global stock market volatility.Janet Yellen Congress testimony 2016

She said the decline in China’s currency, the yuan, had “intensified uncertainty about China’s exchange rate policy and the prospects for its economy”.

“This uncertainty led to increased volatility in global financial markets and, against the background of persistent weakness abroad, exacerbated concerns about the outlook for global growth.”

While Janet Yellen said she was confident China’s economy was not facing a “hard landing”, the Fed chief said the overall uncertainty created by the world’s second-largest economy was behind some of the steep falls in global commodity prices, which in turn were creating stress for exporting nations.

Janet Yellen added that “low commodity prices could trigger financial stresses in commodity-exporting economies” as well as in commodity-producing firms around the world.

If such problems materialized, she added, “foreign activity and demand for US exports could weaken and financial market conditions could tighten further”.

Following her prepared testimony Janet Yellen responded to questions in Congress about the new way in which the central bank implemented its last rate rise.

Congress is concerned the new policy benefits the country’s banks more than the American public, because banks receive a higher interest rate on the reserves they hold at the Fed.

Supporters of the interest rate on excess reserves (IOER) policy say it allows the Fed to maintain control of the market.

Janet Yellen has called the policy a “traditional tool” for adjusting rates, citing its use by other central banks around the globe. The Fed was given the power to offer IOER by Congress in 2006.

US stock markets opened higher after the comments.

Recent stock market turmoil has prompted most Wall Street analysts to push back their forecast of when the next US Federal Reserve interest rate rise will occur, from March to June at the earliest.

US stock markets have taken a battering in recent weeks over concerns caused by the economic slowdown in China, which has in turn led to lower commodity and oil prices, while the weaker yuan has made Chinese exports cheaper than those from the US.

The Dow Jones is down some 8.5% since the start of the year, the S&P 500 is down more than 9% since January 1 and the NASDAQ is lower by 14%.

US economic growth in the last three months of 2015 also slowed dramatically, to 0.7% compared with the same period a year earlier, falling from 2% three months earlier.

According to the new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US economy added 151,000 jobs in January 2016.

The new jobs helped to push the US unemployment rate down to 4.9%.

The number was lower than expected and is a sharp slowdown from December 2015, when 292,000 jobs were added.

Job losses in transport and education weighed on the numbers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said.

Last week, figures showed that US economic growth slowed to an annual rate 0.7% in the final three months of 2015, from 2% in the previous quarter.

Early trading on Wall Street suggests investors are concerned that the slowdown in job creation could be a further signal of a weakening US economy. The main Dow Jones was down 189 points, or 1.2%, at 16,227.43 in early-afternoon trading.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

However, some analysts focused on the positive – that weaker job numbers meant another rise in interest rates was unlikely for now.

President Barack Obama highlighted the low unemployment rate as he plugged aspects of his spending bill to be proposed next week. He plans to push for greater investment in clean energy, where jobs growth has been strong.

The president acknowledged that there was still anxiety among Americans, but said the US economy was “stronger and more durable” then before the financial crisis.

Retailing saw the highest number of jobs created in January, at 58,000, with healthcare adding 37,000 and manufacturing 29,000.

Some 39,000 jobs were lost in private education services, however, with a further 20,000 lost in transport and warehousing.

The net job creation pushed the unemployment rate below 5% – where it had stood for the previous three months – to its lowest level since early 2008.

The labor participation rate was unchanged, suggesting fewer people are dropping out of the labor market – a key problem during the financial crisis.

The average hourly rate rose by 12 cents, or 0.5%, to $25.39.

The US economy slowed sharply in Q4 of 2015, growing with an annualized rate of 0.7% comparing with the same quarter a year ago, official figures show.

The rate of growth marks a sharp slowdown from the 2% growth recorded in Q3 of 2015.

According to the Department of Commerce, one reason for the slower growth was a slowdown in consumer spending.

Export growth was also slower as the strong dollar made US goods more expensive outside the country.US economic growth Q4 2015

Energy sector investment continued to plummet, with spending on mining exploration, wells and shafts down 38.7%, a slightly less dramatic fall than the 47% drop seen in Q3.

Overall, investment in the sector was down 35% in 2015, the largest drop since 1986.

Unseasonably mild weather held back some consumer spending, with another brake on growth from manufacturers who needed to run down surplus stock rather than make new goods.

Both factors are seen as temporary.

Overall, the US economy grew by 2.4% in 2015, and is expected to pick up steam to give a similar growth figure this year.

On January 27, the Federal Reserve said that growth had “slowed late last year” but that employment had picked up.

At the end of 2015, the Fed was sufficiently confident in the strength of the US economy to raise rates for the first time since 2006.

US economy added 211,000 jobs in November 2015, slightly above expectations.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the jobless rate held at its seven-and-a-half year low of 5%.

The jobs stats showed that the construction, food services and retail sectors all saw healthy job increases.

The robust figures could now pave the way for the first US interest rate rise in close to 10 years later this month.US jobs November 2015

Labor market strength is an important consideration for the Federal Reserve over whether to move interest rates.

On December 3, Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s signaled to a joint Congressional committee that the Federal Reserve was on track for a December rates rise.

The Fed, whose policy-setting committee will meet on December 15 and 16, cut rates to near-zero in December 2008 in response to the financial crisis.

The labor bureau also revised September and October’s figures to show 35,000 more jobs than had been previously reported.

Meanwhile, average hourly earnings increased by four cents to $25.25, or 0.2%, following a 0.4% rise in October.

Sectors which did not fare well in November were manufacturing, which shed 1,000 posts, and mining, which lost 11,000 positions.

Wall Street closed slightly lower on Thursday, October 29, after official figures showed a sharp slowdown in economic growth.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 23.72 points, or 0.13%, to 17,755.80.

The latest GDP figures suggested the US economy grew at an annualized pace of 1.5% in Q3 of 2015, down from 3.9% the previous quarter.Wall Street US stocks

GoPro shares fell 15.2% following the release of disappointing results from the camera maker.

Shares in Allergan, which makes Botox, and Pfizer were both suspended after the companies confirmed they were in buyout talks.

The tech-focused NASDAQ index fell 21.42 points, or 0.42%, to 5,074.27.

The S&P 500 index was barely changed, down 0.94 points at 2,089.41.

US economic growth slowed sharply in Q3 of 2015.

According to the Department of Commerce, the US gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an annualized pace of 1.5% in Q3 of 2015, down from a rate of 3.9% in Q2.

The slowdown was partly due to companies running down stockpiles of goods in their warehouses.

On October 28, the Federal Reserve kept rates unchanged and said the economy was expanding at a “moderate” pace.

Low oil prices have hit American energy companies so far this year.

However, lower fuel prices have been good news for consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity.

Consumer spending grew at 3.2% in Q3, down from 3.6% in the second but still a strong reading.US economic growth 2015

Analysts said that the running down of warehouse stockpiles in Q3 was likely to be a temporary effect and they expected growth to accelerate again in Q4.

For several months there has been intense debate about when the Fed will raise interest rates, and now the focus is on its last meeting of the year in December.

The Fed has said in past statements that it expects to raise rates in 2015, and that labor market participation, inflation and the global economy would be the key factors in its decision.

In its latest statement on October 28, the Fed said: “In determining whether it will be appropriate to raise the target range at its next meeting, the committee will assess progress – both realized and expected – toward its objectives of maximum employment and 2% inflation.”

However, the Fed dropped comments, which had been used in the previous month’s statement, that weaknesses in the global economy could affect the US.

Financial markets interpreted this as a sign that the Fed might be more likely to raise rates in December.

According to the United States Department of Commerce figures, US retail sales grew by only 0.1% in September 2015.

Economists had predicted a rise of 0.2%.

The flat figure was mainly attributed to a fall in fuel prices and a slowing labor market.

US car sales did rise, but core sales, which exclude those, building materials and petrol- dipped by 0.1%.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

The disappointing figures make it less likely that the Federal Reserve will raise rates in October.

Slow labor growth in the US is one reason believed to have curbed some discretionary spending by Americans.

Third quarter growth in the US was also revised down to 1.7%.

The Fed is looking for 2% growth to justify increasing its benchmark rate.

According to the Labor Department figures, the US economy added only 142,000 jobs in September 2015, lowering the chance of an interest rate rise this year.

The number of jobs created in September was far lower than the 205,000 increase forecast by economists.

The July and August figures were revised down by a combined 59,000.

On October 2, Wall Street opened sharply lower, with the Dow Jones and S&P 500 indexes both down about 1.3%.

However, both indexes later recovered to be up about 0.5% and 0.6% respectively.

The poor figures also resulted in a rollercoaster ride for the FTSE 100, which ended the day up 0.9% at 6,129.9 points despite also turning negative in afternoon trading.US jobs September 2015

The Labor Department numbers reinforced fears that the China-led global economic slowdown is hitting America’s recovery, adding to doubt about whether the Federal Reserve will raise rates before 2016.

The number of new jobs for August was cut by 37,000 to 136,000 – in sharp contrast to the upward revision expected by economists.

The July total was also reduced, by 22,000 to 245,000.

The number of new jobs created in the US has averaged 198,000 a month for 2014 – below last year’s average of 260,000.

However, the unemployment rate held steady at 5.1%.

The jobless rate, which is derived from a separate survey of households, was unchanged only because 350,000 workers stopped looking for work last month and were no longer counted as part of the labor force.

The proportion of Americans who either have a job or are looking for one fell to a 38-year low, partly reflecting retirements of older workers from the baby boomer generation.

Average hourly wages fell by 1 cent to $25.09 during the month and were only 2.2% higher than the same month in 2014.

The data also knocked the dollar lower, with the pound rising 0.6% to $1.5238 after the numbers were released. Yields on government bonds also fell.

According to revised official figures, the US economy expanded more than previously estimated in Q2 2015.

The US Commerce Department said the economy expanded at an annualized pace of 3.9%, rather than 3.7%.

The overall US economic growth was due to strong consumer spending, business investment and residential construction.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

It rate is much higher than the 0.6% rate recorded in Q1 2015.

The growth rate is expected to have slowed in the current quarter, but in a speech on September 24 Federal Reserve head Janet Yellen said economic growth appeared “solid” and the US remained “on track” for an interest rate rise this year.

Janet Yellen said as long as inflation was stable and the US economy was strong enough to boost jobs, the conditions would be right for a rise.

US interest rates have been held at near-zero since the 2008 financial crisis. When they finally do rise, it will be the first interest rate increase in nine years.

Stocks on Wall Street made a bright start in the wake of the GDP figures and Janet Yellen’s comments, with the Dow Jones rising 1% in morning trade.

The Department of Labor has reported on September 4 that the US economy added 173,000 jobs in August.

This is the last unemployment report before September’s interest rate decision by the Federal Reserve.

The number of jobs was below the 217,000 predicted by analysts, although the Labor Department said that figures for August tend to be revised higher subsequently.

The unemployment rate fell to 5.1% – down from the July figure of 5.3%.

The rate is the lowest since April 2008.

Wall Street headed lower following the numbers, with the S&P 500 falling 1.3% and the Dow Jones industrial average shedding more than 200 points or 1.2%.

Photo Boomberg

Photo Boomberg

European stock markets, which had been trading lower before the data was released, extended their losses, with the FTSE 100 in London down 2% and indexes in Paris and Frankfurt dropping about 2.6%.

There were upward revisions to the number of jobs created in the previous two months, which added another 44,000 jobs. The revised figure for July was 245,000 jobs.

The weaker-than-expected August number could make Fed officials think twice about increasing rates when they meet on September 16-17.

Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said the decline in the unemployment rate could be the clincher for a September rise.

However, he added: “The most likely scenario is one where the Fed waits a little longer in the light of recent economic and financial market instability, instead merely testing financial market reactions with rhetoric that a rate rise is increasingly imminent.”

One of the officials who will help make that decision said on September 4 that the US labor market had recovered sufficiently to warrant raising rates soon.

Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker, who had called for a rate increase in June, said the US economy no longer needed rates to be so low.

Fed officials will also take into consideration volatile global financial markets and slowing growth in China.