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08-May2018

US markets closed higher on Monday

The US markets closed higher on Monday, though off the peak of the day, as energy shares pulled back following a late-afternoon tweet from President Donald Trump indicated that a decision was imminent on whether the US would decertify a 2015 Iran nuclear pact. Trump tweeted that he would make an announcement on a possible decertification of the Iran nuclear agreement that the Obama administration had reached with the Middle Eastern country back in 2015. European leaders had urged Trump not to abandon the pact. Trump had until May 12 to decide whether to keep the deal intact. Abandoning it would trigger a re-imposition of economic sanctions on Iran, hampering oil exports from the country and cutting global supply.

Meanwhile, Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin said that he wants interest rates to go higher since the economy is growing strong with low unemployment. Barkin, who joined the Richmond Fed in January, said that the level of the fed-funds rate target is still boosting the economy, or stepping on the gas. It is hard to argue this is the correct policy stance with strong growth, low unemployment, and stable inflation close to the Fed's 2% target. Barkin, who is a voting member of the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee this year, wouldn't say if he favored two or three more rate hikes this year.

On the economy front, the Federal Reserve said consumer credit in March grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.6%, or $11.6 billion, to mark the slowest gain since September. February's gain was revised higher to show a $13.6 billion advance instead of a previously reported $10.6 billion gain. Non-revolving credit such as student and auto loans grew 6%, the third straight month of growth around that level. Revolving credit, namely credit cards, fell 3%, marking the second drop in a row. It's still narrowly holding above the $1 trillion level. With rising employment and erratic but growing gains in income, consumer credit should continue to increase. But consumer credit growth, north of 7% in 2014 and 2015, has slowed to a rate of 4.25% in the first quarter.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 94.81 points or 0.39 percent to 24,357.32, the Nasdaq gained 55.596 points or 0.77 percent to 7,265.21, and the S&P 500 was up by 9.21 points or 0.35 percent to 2,672.63.


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