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    Critical information ahead of the market's open. I keep telling my kid that it's OK not to look/think/dress like everyone else. But it's a waste of breath because those tweensters want to blend in.

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    The U.S. economy was on a modest growth path early in the second quarter with home resales falling in April and manufacturing activity on the backfoot in May, although the labor market continued to tighten. Growth is struggling to rebound strongly after slumping at the start of the year, weighed down by bad weather, a strong dollar, port disruptions and deep energy spending cuts.

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    The U.S. economy performed below trend in April but not as bad as the previous month, according to the Chicago Fed's national activity index released Thursday. The index edged up to negative 0.15 from negative 0.36 in March, and the three-month average edged u to negative 0.23 from negative 0.27. The index is a weighted average of 85 indicators of national economic activity, and when the three-month average moves below negative 0.7, there's an increasing likelihood a recession has...

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    The U.S. federal funds rate, which banks charge each other to borrow each other's excess reserves, averaged 0.12 percent for a second day on Wednesday, U.S. Federal Reserve data released early Thursday showed.

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    As new home construction accelerates in the U.S. this year, Wells Fargo (WFC)  and other big retail banks are looking forward to a spike in lucrative new mortgages. Not only do such loans carry more fees than mortgage refinances, a likely move by the Federal Reserve to raise rates means the banks can make more money on interest, too.

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    The U.S. and Israel have the worst inequality in the developed world, according to a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The OECD found that the gap between rich and poor is at record levels in most of its 34 member countries.

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    More than six years after slashing its benchmark interest rate to zero, the Federal Reserve is widely expected to start raising it again this year. But disappointing economic growth, persistently low inflation and a slowing job market have cast doubt on the timing. Documents detailing the Fed’s most recent policy-setting meeting in Washington in April show officials grappling with more questions than answers and underscore the uncertainty that remains in any forecast for the recovery. Here are the most important things they discussed:June is (basically) off the table The April meeting minutes confirmed what the market has already deduced: A June rate hike is highly unlikely.A few anticipated that the information that would accrue by the time of the June meeting would likely indicate sufficient improvement in the economic outlook to lead the Committee to judge that its conditions for beginning policy firming had been met. Many participants, however, thought it unlikely that the data available in June would provide sufficient confirmation that the conditions for raising the target range for the federal funds rate had been satisfied, although they generally did not rule out this possibility. A warning before liftoff? After dropping the vow to be “patient” in raising rates in March, Fed officials have said that they will decide at each meeting whether the time is right for liftoff. But the minutes show they at least considered providing an explicit warning before the first rate hike before the idea was nixed. Looks like forward guidance is headed back into the toolbox.Participants discussed the merits of providing an explicit indication, in postmeeting statements released prior to the commencement of policy firming, that the target range for the federal funds rate would likely be raised in the near term. However, most participants felt that the timing of the first increase in the target range for the federal funds rate would appropriately be determined on a meeting-by-meeting basis and would depend on the evolution of economic conditions and the outlook. In keeping with this data-dependent approach, some participants further suggested that the postmeeting statement’s description of the economic situation and outlook, and of progress toward the Committee’s goals, provided the appropriate means by which the Committee could help the public assess the likely timing of the initial increase in the target range for the federal funds rate.The many faces of disappointing Q1 growth Officials searched for an explanation for why growth flatlined during the first quarter. In April, at least, officials seemed confident that the slowdown was temporary.Most notably, the severe winter weather in some regions had reportedly weighed on economic activity, and the labor dispute at West Coast ports temporarily disrupted some supply chains. Furthermore, a pattern observed in previous years of the current expansion was that the first quarter of the year tended to have weaker seasonally adjusted readings on economic growth than did the subsequent quarters. This tendency supported the expectation that economic growth would return to a moderate pace over the rest of this year. Participants also pointed to other reasons for anticipating that the weakness seen in the first quarter would not endure.Wither the consumer? But there were emerging fears that the slowdown could infect the second quarter, as well. And in fact, many economists are now lowering their projections for growth this quarter. One of the main culprits? Consumer spending.A number of participants suggested that the damping effects of the earlier appreciation of the dollar on net exports or of the earlier decline in oil prices on firms’ investment spending might be larger and longer-lasting than previously anticipated. In addition, the expected boost to household spending from lower energy prices had apparently so far not materialized, highlighting the possibility of less underlying momentum in consumer expenditures than participants had previously judged. Some participants expressed particular concern about this prospect, as their expectations of a moderate expansion of economic activity in the medium term, combined with further improvements in labor market conditions, rested largely on a scenario in which consumer spending grows robustly despite softness in other components of aggregate demand.  The push from the doves At least two officials, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans and Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota, have argued that the central bank should not raise rates until next year, citing the low level of inflation and concern that the recovery is not fully rooted. The Fed’s own estimates of the proper interest rate for a well-oiled economy have drifted down along with their expectations of how fast the economy can grow. During the April meeting, the doves took particularly vocal positions. The officials are unnamed, but we can take a pretty good guess at who they might be.Estimates of such equilibrium real interest rates were highly uncertain, but some participants reported that their estimates were currently unusually low by historical standards, reflecting, for example, factors weighing persistently on aggregate demand. In light of their low estimates, a few of these participants questioned whether the Committee was providing sufficient accommodation at the present time and cautioned against initiating policy firming in the near future. However, other participants cited factors, including the current low level of term premiums, that might cast doubt on the notion that the equilibrium real federal funds rate was particularly low. Some participants observed that more discussion of this topic was likely to be helpful in assessing these issues. One participant suggested that, in part because of the evidence that the equilibrium real interest rate was low by historical standards, the Committee should discuss the possibility of increasing its longer-run inflation objective. This participant and a few others thought such a discussion could be useful but emphasized that any decision to change the Committee’s longer-run goals and policy strategy should not be made lightly.




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    WASHINGTON-- Looking to cut risk for the U.S. mortgage market, federal officials finalized rules Wednesday for loan servicers, creating minimums for net worth, capital and liquidity. The rules from federally controlled mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC) are aimed at specialty, non- bank servicers, such as Nationstar Mortgage Holdings (NSM), which collect borrowers' mortgage payments. The new requirements will "help ensure the safe and sound operation" of Fannie and...

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     . The Federal Reserve isn't likely to raise interest rates in June because of soft economic data, according to one economist. "The Federal Reserve ran out of time to get enough data, now that the Fed is data dependent, to justify a June liftoff," said Michael Hanson, senior U.S. economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

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    Families in San Francisco have passed an important milestone when it comes to saving for college, and officials hope it means big things for the city's youngest residents. About 2,600 families have saved more than $1 million combined over the last four years, according to San Francisco's Kindergarten to College program, which is the first of its kind in the country.

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    WASHINGTON-- Chances of a rate hike in June appear slim after the publication of minutes from the last Federal Reserve interest-rate meeting. According to the summary of the discussions on April 29-30, only a "few" Fed officials thought that the economy would show enough strength to justify a move in six weeks. "Most Fed policy members, however, thought it unlikely that the data available in June would provide sufficient confirmation that the conditions for raising the target range...

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    Michigan's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.4 percent in April, matching the national jobless rate for the first time since September 2000, Governor Rick Snyder said on Wednesday. The state, which is home to major U.S. automakers, was hit hard by the Great Recession. Michigan's rate for last month dipped to 5.4 percent from 5.6 percent in March.

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    25.7% of independent contractors run a side business, 25% have another full-time job. The average hourly wage in the on-demand economy is $18 an hour, with drivers in the ride-sharing economy and Airbnb hosts making the most at $25 an hour, according to a new study. The study, conducted by Stanford University graduate students and a Y Combinator alumnus, offers a peek into the sharing economy, showing that its workers generally have multiple jobs and are under the age of 34..

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    By Myra P. Saefong, MarketWatch, Eric Yep. Oil futures settled higher, with the U.S. benchmark near $59 a barrel as the government reported a third straight weekly fall in crude supplies and tensions in the Middle East intensified. Prices recouped less than half of what it lost day earlier, however, as U.S. production failed to decline as some traders had expected.

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    Stonegate, a small Florida bank, has opened an account for the Cuban government, according to a source familiar with the state's banking industry, removing an obstacle in the way of Washington and Havana restoring diplomatic ties after more than 50 years.

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    There was less enthusiasm for a June rate hike among Federal Reserve officials than had been the case in March, according to minutes from the April meeting released Wednesday. The minutes show that only a "few" Fed officials thought that the economic data would improve enough to trigger a rate hike at the Fed's next meeting on June 16-17. In March, "several" Fed officials had supported a June move. The minutes of the April 29-30 meeting show that "many" on the Fed thought that June was...

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    WASHINGTON-- Here are selected highlights of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting of April 28 and 29, which was released Wednesday. On the timing of an interest rate hike: "Although participants expressed different views about the likely timing and pace of policy firming, they agreed that the Committee's decision to begin firming would appropriately depend on the incoming data and their implications for the economic outlook. A few anticipated that the information that...

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    Bacon lovers can breathe a sigh of smoky relief. No, a study didn't find bacon to be healthy. A one-pound package of bacon is 25% cheaper now than a year ago, according to U.S. Agriculture Department data. Timing couldn't be better. In the past year, Americans ate 1.1 billion -- billion with a B -- servings of bacon at restaurants.

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    Law raises pay from $9 an hour; to be phased in through 2020. Law raises pay from $9 an hour; to be phased in through 2020. LOS ANGELES-- Los Angeles became the biggest in a string of large cities to forward a minimum wage increase when the city council voted Tuesday to raise the bar on base pay to at least $15 an hour by 2020, reports said.