October 2018
Non-Operating
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National Non-Operating Observations
As expected, the Federal Reserve raised its target interest rate range to 2.00-2.25 percent at its September meeting, marking the highest rates since October 2008. Commentary from the meeting suggests that the Fed will continue increasing interest rates over the near term, with projections indicating another hike at the December meeting and three increases in 2019. Economic fundamentals in the U.S. remain positive, with the unemployment rate dropping to 3.7 percent (its lowest rate since 1969) on the strength of an increase in non-farm payrolls of 134,000. The average American worker’s hourly salary rose 0.3 percent to $27.24, a 2.8 percent year-over-year increase.
Foreign trade politics have continued to dominate headlines. In September, the Trump Administration announced a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion of Chinese imports, with the tariff rate expected to rise to 25 percent by 2019. China retaliated with $60 billion worth of tariffs on U.S. goods, and cancelled upcoming trade talks. The U.S., Mexico, and Canada also announced a “new NAFTA,” which would amend various provisions of the original free-trade agreement.
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