Gold Price Near Steady as FOMC Statement Not a Big Markets-Mover
Washington (July 29) The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) continues to walk a fine line, revealing little new insights on the state of the economy in its latest monetary policy statement. As expected, the central bank maintained interest rates at its zero-bound range.
Wednesday, the central bank said in its monetary policy statement that economic activity, since the June meeting, has expanded “moderately,” leaving the wording unchanged from the previous statement.
However, the the central bank is seeing some improvement in the labor market, saying that underutilization of labor market reserves has "diminished," a stuble shift from the previous statement that said the underutilization has "diminished somewhat."
"The labor market continued to improve, with solid job gains and declining unemployment. On balance, a range of labor market indicators suggests that underutilization of labor resources has diminished since early this year," the statement said.
Jim Wyckoff, senior technical analyst noted that there was little reaction in the gold market as prices traded "near steady" following the release of the statement. August gold futures managed to push to its session high at $1,100.90 an ounce in initial reaction to the statement but prices fell back down fairly quickly.
However, the committee could be preparing to shift its stance on inflation as the latest statement removes any reference to stablizing energy prices.
"Inflation continued to run below the committee's longer-run objective, partly reflecting earlier
declines in energy prices and decreasing prices of non-energy imports," the statement said. The June statment added that "energy prices appear to have stablized."
However, the committee reiterated that it still expects inflation to eventually return to its 2% target over the medium term as risks to the economy and labor market remain nearly balanced.
Avery Shenfeld, senior economist at CIBC Markets, said that he was not surprised with the Fed's "stand-pat statement."
"Nobody expected a rate hike today, and nobody should have expected the Fed to pre-commit to anything for September with weeks of data still to get through," he said. "The only thing new is that they hint that labour markets are getting closer to their objective for a first hike. Not much for markets to chew on, so trading will be driven by whatever investors were waiting to do anyway after the statement was out."
Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman said that the key to future rate hikes remains the labor market, adding that there will be two employment reports befor the central monetary policy meeting.
Chandler also noted that the U.S. dollar weakned slightly in initial reaction as there was no explicit mention of a September rate hike; however, he added that the statement also does rule it out either.