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Data: New York Fed; Chart: Axios Visuals

The New York Fed's new index designed to more quickly capture the state of the economy declined in the week of June 6 for the first time in more than a month.

The state of play: The retreat was driven by a falling retail sales report that more than offset a small increase in consumer sentiment, it said.

What happened: The Census Bureau's quarterly financial report released Monday for Q1 found seasonally adjusted after-tax profits for U.S. retail companies with assets of $50 million or more fell more than expected, dropping by $5.6 billion quarter over quarter and by $3.9 billion year over year.

  • Without seasonal adjustment, the decline was $8.7 billion quarter over quarter and $3.9 billion year over year.

Of note: Seasonal adjustment has become a contentious issue since the coronavirus pandemic hit. The practice has been altering reported findings by millions or even billions and in some cases turning net gains into net losses and vice versa.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Sep 17, 2020 - Economy & Business

Retail sales return to trend after coronavirus plunge

Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

One of the few economic readings sporting a V-shaped recovery is U.S. retail sales, which showed the highest monthly gains in history in May (18.3%) and June (8.4%), and grew in August by 0.6%.

On one hand: While the reading showed a significant slowdown, total retail sales in August were higher than they were before the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., even when excluding food services.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Sep 17, 2020 - Economy & Business

An uncertain Fed for an uncertain time

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Stringer/Getty Images

The Fed policy meeting Wednesday that was designed to further clarify its new stance on "average inflation targeting" — a topic addressed by multiple policymakers on its rate-setting committee in the month since it was announced — left the market with more questions than answers.

What's happening: The Fed announced that not only was it keeping U.S. interest rates at essentially zero for now but it plans to keep them there until at least 2023, extending its forecast an additional year.

Fed signals it could yank economic support quicker as inflation sticks around

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell testifies during a hearing before Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee today. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve will consider pulling back economic support sooner "as the threat of persistently high inflation has grown," chair Jerome Powell said during a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

Why it matters: This is the biggest signal yet the Fed is backing away from its stance that soaring prices would be fleeting — a change that could shift its policies that underpin the economy.