Just one out of ten Fed officials was ready to hike interest rates last month, according to the FOMC meeting minutes released this week, but that official was willing to wait “another meeting or two”. FOMC members said that they need further evidence that “economic growth was sufficiently strong and labor-market conditions had firmed enough to return inflation to the committee’s longer-run objective over the medium term”, while a “number” of officials warned against a “premature” hike.
The trade deficit widened 2.9% in May to $41.9 billion, driven by a drop in exports of aircraft and other manufactured goods. While imports declined .1% to $230.5 billion, exports fell .8% to $188.6 billion, hurt by a strong dollar.
Source: Census Bureau
Job openings rose to a record 5.36 million in May according to the JOLTS report (with data going back to 2000). Private sector openings increased 16% to 4.85 million while government positions rose to 511,000. With 8.67 million people unemployed, there were around 1.6 jobless for every opening.
Growth in the service sector ticked higher in June, with the ISM nonmanufacturing index rising to 56. Though activity was mixed – new orders rose but employment fell – the tone was positive: “the majority of respondents’ comments are positive about business conditions and the economy”.
Consumers increased their debt by 5.7% in May, amounting to a $16.1 billion increase, fueled by vehicle purchases and college loans.