US: Powell testimony shows strong economy, more hawkish bias

5 min

In his first testimony to Congress, new Fed Chair Jerome Powell cited strength in the labor market and in the domestic and global economies, as well as simulative fiscal policy which give him “confidence… that inflation is moving up to target” – a slightly more hawkish bias. Three rate hikes in 2018 is a virtual certainty with a fourth quite likely. Consumer confidence took a sharp +6.5 point jump to a 17-year high, with the present situation component also reaching a 17-year high. Other data was less positive. Core durable goods orders slipped for a second straight month sending the y/y rate down sharply, but to a still solid +6.3% y/y rate. The report contrasts with strong regional Fed and ISM reports. Cold weather hurt housing sales and prices in December and January, but much needed supply came on the market for the spring selling season. The advance estimate of the trade deficit widened from -USD72.3bn to -USD74.4bn in January.