Wall Street enters the first trading week of the year on a bullish note, but the market remains dogged by concerns on the timing of any interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve amid economy recovery.
The US central bank may shed some light on how the central bank will unwind its unconventional monetary policy that helped jolt the world’s largest economy from prolonged recession.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is scheduled to speak to the American Economic Association forum in Atlanta tiday, while the minutes of the Dec. 15-16 Fed policy-making body meeting will be released on Wednesday.
They could provide more detailed clues on the Fed’s updated outlook for the economy and evolving plans for an eventual “exit” strategy from virtually zero interest rates, with the market flush with liquidity.
“We still expect the Fed to stick to its guns on the current low-interest policy through at least the first half of 2010,” said IHS Global Insight US economists Brian Bethune and Nigel Gault in a joint report.
They cited both inflation and output, which were “running below the Fed’s target,” as well as tight credit conditions and constrained demand for credit.
Wall Street stocks slumped at the close of a turbulent year on Thursday, after positive jobs data sparked concerns that interest rates may rise sooner than anticipated.
However, shares settled only slightly below their 52-week highs with strong gains for the year.
For the holiday-shortened week, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.9 percent to 10,428.05, but gained 18.82 percent over the course of the year.
The technology-rich NASDAQ composite shed 0.7 percent for the week to 2,269.15 and the broad-market Standard & Poor’s 500 index retreated 1 percent to 1,115.10.
The NASDAQ index racked up the largest percentage gain for the year, wrapping up the year with a 43.9 percent jump, while the S&P 500 index jumped 23.5 percent.
Analysts are confident the market will continue its ascent, considering the 2.2 percent US economic growth chalked up in the July-September period — the first quarter of recovery after a year of contraction — as well as rising existing-home sales and durable-goods orders.
For the week, bonds were mixed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond rose to 3.843 percent from 3.807 percent a week earlier while that on the 30-year bond dipped to 4.641 percent from 4.687 percent. Bond yields and prices move in opposite directions.
‘HERO OF THE ERA’: President Tsai Ing-wen expressed deep sadness at Lee’s passing, and told the government to assist his family with all their needs Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) passed away at 7:24pm yesterday at Taipei Veterans General Hospital. He was 97 years old. The hospital stated the cause of death as septic shock and multiple organ failure. Lee had been hospitalized there since February, when he choked on a mouthful of milk at home. He was later diagnosed with pulmonary infiltrates and aspiration pneumonia. The hospital said that Lee had been treated with antibiotics, but that his health had not improved, as his advanced age and diabetes had inhibited his immune system and led to recurring infections. During his hospitalization, Lee underwent daily kidney dialysis, which removed
‘WEAK POSITIVE’: The man arrived in Taiwan in May and was quarantined for two weeks, Chen Shih-chung said, adding that he might be infected a long time ago The government is considering tightening mask-wearing rules again in light of a potential domestic COVID-19 infection, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, six of which are imported. The other case involves a Belgian engineer who entered Taiwan on May 3 and remained in quarantine until May 17, said Chen, who heads the CECC. Although the source of infection has yet to be identified, the case could end the nation’s record of not having any domestic cases in the previous 110 days. The Belgian, in his 20s, is a technician
RECEIVING TREATMENT: President Tsai Ing-wen, Vice President William Lai and Premier Su Tseng-chang visited former president Lee Teng-hui yesterday morning Taipei Veterans General Hospital yesterday rebutted speculation that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had died a day earlier, saying that he was weak, but receiving treatment. The hospital said the 97-year-old Lee was not in good condition and needed ongoing care, adding that if there are any changes in his condition, it would make those public. The comments came after rumors emerged online on Tuesday that Lee had died after being hospitalized since early February. Soon after the unsubstantiated rumors emerged, reporters started flocking to the hospital seeking confirmation. Lee was admitted to Taipei Veterans General Hospital on Feb. 8 after choking while drinking
ROAD TO HISTORY: When Lee Teng-hui joined the KMT, the likelihood of a Taiwanese becoming ROC president, much less its first directly elected one, was hard to imagine Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), who was born on Jan. 15, 1923, in the farming community of Sanshi Village, Taihoku Prefecture — now New Taipei City’s Sanzhi District (三芝) — during the Japanese colonial era, and rose to become mayor of Taipei and not only the Republic of China’s (ROC) first Taiwan-born president, but its first directly elected one as well. Educated in the Japanese educational system of the time, Lee, who spoke Japanese, Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese), Mandarin and English, won a scholarship to Kyoto Imperial University, but his studies were interrupted by World War II. He earned a bachelor’s