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Judging the Fed: Key market and economic indicators last November and now

June 22, 2011 | 11:34 am

After spending $600 billion to buy more Treasury bonds since November, what does the Federal Reserve have to show for it?

As Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke holds his news conference Wednesday (see it live here), here is a look at how key market and economic indicators have fared since Nov. 4. That was the first full trading day after the central bank formally announced the bond-buying program.

Note, though, that the Fed had been telegraphing its intentions to launch a bond-purchase program since mid-August, so some markets had already moved on the news. Treasury bond yields, for example, already had fallen significantly from August to early November. After rebounding in winter, yields have again tumbled in recent months as economic growth has slowed.

In its post-meeting statement on Nov. 3, the Fed said its goal in buying more Treasury bonds was to “promote a stronger pace of economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at levels consistent with [the Fed’s] mandate.”

At the time Bernanke was concerned that inflation was too low, not that it was too high. On that count, the Fed has succeeded: Boosted in part by higher energy prices, inflation gauges have more than doubled from their levels of last October.

Among economic indicators, unemployment has declined since November, but many key gauges of economic strength have ebbed in recent months.

Indicator.........................Nov. 4..........Now

3-month Treasury bill.............0.12%............0.02%
6-month T-bill........................0.16%............0.09%
2-year T-note.........................0.33%.............0.38%
5-year T-note..........................1.03%............1.55%
10-year T-note........................2.49%............2.98%
30-year T-bond.......................4.07%............4.22%

Bond Buyer long-term muni bond yield...4.96%.....5.16%
KDP junk bond yield.................6.99%............7.00%

30-year mortgage rate.................4.24%..........4.50%

Gold (ounce).............................$1,383...........$1,553
Silver (ounce)...........................$26.04............$36.73
Crude oil (barrel, U.S.)...............$86.49...........$95.53

CRB commodities price index......312.30...........338.14

Dollar index (DXY)......................75.88............74.56

Dow Jones average....................11,434.............12,190
S&P 500....................................1,221.06.........1,295.52
Nasdaq composite......................2,577.34..........2,687.26

Unemployment rate...................9.7% (Oct.)......9.1% (May)
ISM U.S. mfg. index...................56.9 (Oct.).......53.5 (May)
ISM U.S. non-mfg. index............54.6 (Oct.)........54.6 (May)

Continuing jobless benefit claims (millions)........4.27 (wk Nov. 5).......3.68m (wk June 3)

Consumer confidence (Conference Board).........49.90 (Oct.).........60.80 (May)
NFIB small-business optimism index..................91.7 (Oct.)...........90.9 (May)

Consumer price index (year-over-year)...............1.2% (Oct.)..........3.6% (May)
CPI core (ex food and energy, year-over-year).....0.6% (Oct.).........1.5% (May)

-- Tom Petruno

RELATED:

Fed lets bond-buying program expire amid weaker economic forecast

Big bills racked up to buttress economic recovery are coming due

More Fed stimulus? Don't count on it

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