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Fed signals readiness to do more for economy as virus rages – Assiniboia Times

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WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve kept its benchmark interest rate at a record low near zero Thursday and signalled its readiness to do more if needed to support an economy under threat from a worsening coronavirus pandemic.

The Fed announced no new actions after its latest policy meeting but left the door open to provide further assistance in the coming months. The central bank again pledged to use its “full range of tools to support the U.S. economy in this challenging time.” The economy in recent weeks has weakened after mounting a tentative recovery from the deep pandemic recession in early spring.

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“I think we have to be humble about where we are,” Chair Jerome Powell said at a news conference when asked whether the economy was at risk of enduring a severe setback with confirmed viral cases in the United States setting record highs. “We are very far from saying that we’ve got this and eliminated” the risks.

Several Fed officials have expressed concern that Congress has failed so far to provide further aid for struggling individuals and businesses. The Fed’s policy statement, issued after a two-day meeting, made no mention of lawmakers’ failure to act. But when asked about the danger to the economy without a new rescue aid package soon, the chairman was clear:

“I think we will have a stronger recovery if we can get more fiscal support” from Congress, Powell said.

A multi-trillion-dollar stimulus, enacted in the spring, had helped sustain jobless Americans and ailing businesses but has since expired. The failure of lawmakers to agree on any new aid has clouded the future for the unemployed, for small businesses and for the economy as a whole. There is some hope, though, that a logjam can be broken and more economic relief can be enacted during a post-election “lame-duck” session of Congress between now and early January.

“The outlook for the economy is extraordinarily uncertain,” Powell said at the news conference.

The chairman said the policymakers discussed this week whether and how their bond buying program might be altered to provide more economic support. The Fed is buying $120 billion a month in bonds — $80 billion in Treasurys and $40 billion in mortgage bonds — to try to keep long-term borrowing costs low. Powell’s comments appeared to raise the possibility that changes could be announced as soon as the Fed’s next meeting in December.

In addition to buying bonds to keep long-term borrowing costs low, the Fed has kept its key short-term rate, which influences many corporate and individual loans, near zero.

The Fed’s latest policy meeting coincided with an anxiety-ridden election week and an escalation of the virus across the country. Most economists warn that the economy cannot make a sustained recovery until the pandemic is brought under control and most Americans are confident enough to return to their normal habits of shopping, travelling, dining and congregating in groups.

“The recent rise in COVID-19 cases both here and abroad is particularly concerning,” Powell said. “All of us have a role to play, to keep appropriate social distance and to wear masks in public.”

The central bank’s policy statement Thursday was approved on a 10-0 vote. Robert Kaplan, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, who had dissented at the previous meeting, voted with the majority this time. Another dissenter in September, Neel Kashkari, head of the Minneapolis Fed, was absent, with his alternate, Mary Daly of the San Francisco Fed, approving the statement.

The statement was nearly identical to the one the Fed issued in September. At that meeting, it adopted a policy goal change it had made in August to keep rates low for some period of time even after inflation hits its 2% annual target. The reason was to allow the Fed to supply a longer boost to the economy and for unemployment to fall further before the policymakers begin to worry about inflation.

At his news conference, Powell was asked about a nationwide shortage of coins that has developed as a decline of shoppers at retail stores has depressed the normal circulation of change. He noted that the circulation of coins and currency was especially important for low-income people who do not have credit cards.

The chairman said he had been told by Fed officials who are reviewing the problem that “things have gotten significantly better” and that the situation was “well on the way to normalizing.”

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Euro zone economy to gain momentum in 2021 on vaccine hopes: Reuters poll – The Journal Pioneer

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By Richa Rebello and Manjul Paul

BENGALURU (Reuters) – The euro zone economy will contract again this quarter as renewed lockdown measures stifle activity, according to a Reuters poll which showed the bloc’s GDP would then return to pre-crisis levels within two years.

Hopes for a coronavirus vaccine and additional support from the European Central Bank this month meant quarterly growth forecasts for next year were upgraded in the poll conducted from Nov. 26-Dec. 2.

“We now assume vaccines will be rolled out in the euro zone next year and most restrictions on economic activity are lifted during Q2. As a result, GDP increases by around 5% next year, regaining its pre-COVID level in early 2022,” said Andrew Kenningham, chief Europe economist at Capital Economics.

“There are still big risks to this forecast. There could yet be a third wave of the virus, vaccine distribution could run into political or logistical problems, and governments could be slower to ease restrictions. On the other hand, the vaccines could be more effective or easier to roll out than anticipated”.

Nearly 80% of respondents, or 36 of 45, who replied to an extra question said the economy would return to pre-crisis levels within two years.

That was a major turnaround in expectations from August when more than 70% of economists said it would take two or more years to reach that level.

The wider poll showed after contracting 2.6% this quarter, the economy would grow 1.1% in the first quarter of 2021 compared with 0.8% in the last poll. It was then predicted to expand 2.0% and 1.8% in Q2 and Q3, better than median predictions of 1.8%, 1.2% in November.

On an annual basis, the economy was expected to shrink 7.4% this year, and grow 5.0% in 2021 largely unchanged from the last poll. For 2022, the growth forecast was upgraded to 3.5% from 3.1%. (Graphic: Reuters Poll: Euro zone economy and ECB monetary policy outlook, https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/polling/xlbvgzaxjpq/Reuters%20Poll%20-%20ECB%20and%20EZ%20outlook%20-%20December%202020.PNG)

That pick-up in growth will not filter through to inflation which was expected to remain far below the European Central Bank’s target of just below 2%, averaging 0.3% in 2020. 0.9% in 2021 and 1.3% in 2022.

Having remained in negative territory for the fourth straight month in November, inflation is likely to be a point of focus when the ECB’s Governing Council meets next week.

The ECB has launched a strategic review after years of inflation undershooting its target and nearly 80% of respondents to an extra question, or 33 of 43 economists, said the ECB would change its inflation target.

While a smaller section of poll participants commented on what the target would be, most said the ECB would allow more leeway around 2% or adopt an average inflation targeting framework, similar to the Federal Reserve’s recent policy.

“We are probably going to see something which looks a little bit similar to the Fed in the sense that this will be more of a symmetrical target. By changing to a symmetrical target, you build in a little more tolerance for higher inflation in the future,” said Elwin de Groot, head of macro strategy at Rabobank.

“This cements the idea rates will stay very low in the coming years… but the past ten years suggest these very relaxed policy settings are not sufficient to really create more growth and inflation. What you really need is a combination of monetary and fiscal policy.”

The ECB was expected to top up its pandemic-related bond purchases by 500 billion euros, at its Dec. 10 meeting, extending the programme by six months until December 2021, a Nov. 18 poll found. It was also predicted to change the terms of its targeted long-term loans to financial institutions.

(Reporting by Richa Rebello and Manjul Paul; Polling by Tushar Goenka and Hari Kishan; Editing by Jonathan Cable and Toby Chopra)

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Euro zone economy to gain momentum in 2021 on vaccine hopes: Reuters poll – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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By Richa Rebello and Manjul Paul

BENGALURU (Reuters) – The euro zone economy will contract again this quarter as renewed lockdown measures stifle activity, according to a Reuters poll which showed the bloc’s GDP would then return to pre-crisis levels within two years.

Hopes for a coronavirus vaccine and additional support from the European Central Bank this month meant quarterly growth forecasts for next year were upgraded in the poll conducted from Nov. 26-Dec. 2.

“We now assume vaccines will be rolled out in the euro zone next year and most restrictions on economic activity are lifted during Q2. As a result, GDP increases by around 5% next year, regaining its pre-COVID level in early 2022,” said Andrew Kenningham, chief Europe economist at Capital Economics.

“There are still big risks to this forecast. There could yet be a third wave of the virus, vaccine distribution could run into political or logistical problems, and governments could be slower to ease restrictions. On the other hand, the vaccines could be more effective or easier to roll out than anticipated”.

Nearly 80% of respondents, or 36 of 45, who replied to an extra question said the economy would return to pre-crisis levels within two years.

That was a major turnaround in expectations from August when more than 70% of economists said it would take two or more years to reach that level.

The wider poll showed after contracting 2.6% this quarter, the economy would grow 1.1% in the first quarter of 2021 compared with 0.8% in the last poll. It was then predicted to expand 2.0% and 1.8% in Q2 and Q3, better than median predictions of 1.8%, 1.2% in November.

On an annual basis, the economy was expected to shrink 7.4% this year, and grow 5.0% in 2021 largely unchanged from the last poll. For 2022, the growth forecast was upgraded to 3.5% from 3.1%. (Graphic: Reuters Poll: Euro zone economy and ECB monetary policy outlook, https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/polling/xlbvgzaxjpq/Reuters%20Poll%20-%20ECB%20and%20EZ%20outlook%20-%20December%202020.PNG)

That pick-up in growth will not filter through to inflation which was expected to remain far below the European Central Bank’s target of just below 2%, averaging 0.3% in 2020. 0.9% in 2021 and 1.3% in 2022.

Having remained in negative territory for the fourth straight month in November, inflation is likely to be a point of focus when the ECB’s Governing Council meets next week.

The ECB has launched a strategic review after years of inflation undershooting its target and nearly 80% of respondents to an extra question, or 33 of 43 economists, said the ECB would change its inflation target.

While a smaller section of poll participants commented on what the target would be, most said the ECB would allow more leeway around 2% or adopt an average inflation targeting framework, similar to the Federal Reserve’s recent policy.

“We are probably going to see something which looks a little bit similar to the Fed in the sense that this will be more of a symmetrical target. By changing to a symmetrical target, you build in a little more tolerance for higher inflation in the future,” said Elwin de Groot, head of macro strategy at Rabobank.

“This cements the idea rates will stay very low in the coming years… but the past ten years suggest these very relaxed policy settings are not sufficient to really create more growth and inflation. What you really need is a combination of monetary and fiscal policy.”

The ECB was expected to top up its pandemic-related bond purchases by 500 billion euros, at its Dec. 10 meeting, extending the programme by six months until December 2021, a Nov. 18 poll found. It was also predicted to change the terms of its targeted long-term loans to financial institutions.

(Reporting by Richa Rebello and Manjul Paul; Polling by Tushar Goenka and Hari Kishan; Editing by Jonathan Cable and Toby Chopra)

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Canadian dollar strengthens as economy grows at a record pace – The Globe and Mail

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The Canadian dollar strengthened against its U.S. counterpart on Tuesday as the greenback broadly declined and domestic data showed the economy growing at a record pace in the third quarter.

Canada’s economy grew by 40.5 per cent on an annualized basis in the third quarter, rebounding from a historic plunge in the second quarter, as businesses and stores reopened from COVID-19 lockdowns, Statistics Canada said.

Separate data, from IHS Markit, showed that Canadian manufacturing activity expanded for the fifth straight month in November as output and new orders climbed.

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The U.S. dollar fell against a basket of major currencies on growing speculation that the Federal Reserve will act to support the economy through a tough winter as coronavirus cases rise.

Canada is also seeing a surge in infections. On Monday, Ottawa projected the budget deficit would hit a historic C$381.6 billion on COVID-19 emergency aid.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.4 per cent higher at 1.2953 to the greenback, or 77.20 U.S. cents, having traded in a range of 1.2942 to 1.3006.

On Monday, the loonie notched its strongest intraday level in over two years at 1.2919. It ended November up 2.4 per cent.

The price of oil, one of Canada’s major exports, fell on Tuesday as investors awaited direction from OPEC and its allies after the producers postponed a formal meeting to decide whether to lift output from January. U.S. crude prices were down 0.8 per cent at $44.99 a barrel.

Canadian government bond yields were higher across a steeper curve in sympathy with U.S. Treasuries as Wall Street rallied. The 10-year was up 2.9 basis points at 0.709 per cent.

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