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Sunday Night Futures: Taper Talk and “Small Ball” Budget Agreement

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This will be a light week for economic data, but there will be plenty of discussion about when the Fed will start to taper QE3 asset purchases. From Binyamin Appelbaum at the NY Times: Fed’s Plan to Taper Stimulus Effort Not Expected Until Next Year

Federal Reserve officials are in no hurry to retreat from their bond-buying campaign to stimulate the economy and are likely to postpone any cuts to the program until next year, according to public statements by Fed officials and interviews with some of them.

[I]nfluential Fed officials see little harm in postponing the decision, particularly compared with the risks of pulling back too soon. Significant details of the eventual retreat also remain the subjects of unresolved debates, according to the public statements and interviews. And some officials argue that the slow pace of inflation is itself a reason for the Fed to maintain its stimulus campaign.

I still think there is a chance that the taper will start in December, but the consensus seems to be early in 2014 (either at the January or March meeting).

Another key event this week will be the expected “small ball” budget agreement on Friday. From Lori Montgomery at the WaPo: Budget deal expected this week amounts to a cease-fire as sides move to avert a standoff

House and Senate negotiators were putting the finishing touches Sunday on what would be the first successful budget accord since 2011 …

Senior aides familiar with the talks say the emerging agreement aims to partially repeal the sequester and raise agency spending to roughly .015 trillion in fiscal 2014 and 2015. That would bring agency budgets up to the target already in place for fiscal 2016. To cover the cost, Ryan and Murray are haggling over roughly billion in alternative policies, including cuts to federal worker pensions and higher security fees for the nation’s airline passengers.

Cutting back the sequester is good economic policy, and we don’t need more austerity right now … so this agreement will be a positive for the economy.

Weekend:
• Schedule for Week of December 8th

• Update: Four Charts to Track Timing for QE3 Tapering

The Nikkei is up about 1.8%.

From CNBC: Pre-Market Data and Bloomberg futures: the S&P futures are up 2 and DOW futures are up 20 (fair value).

Oil prices are up with WTI futures at .76 per barrel and Brent at 1.58 per barrel.

Below is a graph from Gasbuddy.com for nationwide gasoline prices. Nationally prices are around .24 per gallon.  If you click on “show crude oil prices”, the graph displays oil prices for WTI, not Brent; gasoline prices in most of the U.S. are impacted more by Brent prices.


Orange County Historical Gas Price Charts Provided by GasBuddy.com


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