Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke headed to Washington today, and he did a beautiful job of not rocking the markets.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 15,470.5, +18.6, +0.1 %
- S&P 500: 1,680.9, +4.6, +0.2%
- NASDAQ: 3,610.0, +11.5, +0.3%
And now, the top stories:
- Bernanke gave his semi-annual Humphrey-Hawkins testimony to the House Financial Services Committee today. And for the most part, there was nothing we hadn't heard before. He did reiterate that the Fed was not on a "preset course" with its monetary policy. This language has been part of Bernanke's ongoing effort to remind people that the Fed would consider economic data first before deciding to change the trajectory of policy.
- The Q&A portion of Bernanke's appearance was uneventful. Perhaps there'll be more fireworks when he testifies before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday morning.
- In economic news, we learned that the pace of housing starts unexpectedly fell 9.9% month-over-month to an annualized rate of 836,000. Economists were expecting a pace of 960,000. However, this was largely due to a 25% drop in multi-family starts, which tends to be volatile on a month-to-month basis. "Starts are going through a particularly up-and-down period, with the monthly change (whether upwards or downwards) at least 7% m/m in six out of the past seven months," said Capital Economics' Paul Diggle.
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