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The Fed Needs to Watch Oil, Housing, Bond Market More Closely

Oil, housing and investment grade bonds are all indicating the Fed may want to slow down.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell may have been slightly less hawkish in his comments Wednesday night, but there still may be more warning signs he should consider. 

Oil prices are dropping. House prices are dropping. Some investment grade bonds are selling off. While Powell alluded to more rate hikes to come in 2019, and almost certainly in December 2018, he did say something indicating he is more measured than some rate-hike naysayers may have previously thought. "We have to be thinking about how much further to raise rates, and the pace at which we will raise rates," Powell said Wednesday evening. 

But former Adviser to the President of the Dallas Federal Reserve Danielle DiMartino Booth said there is "this dramatic decline in oil prices." She added, "He [Powell] could have leeway with inflation falling back underneath the Fed's 2% target, so that he actually has formal cover to pause."

The Brent Crude Oil index is down 17.6% in the past month.

She also mentioned furniture sales getting hit, which indicates the weakness in housing, which has already begun. The furniture sales slowdown indicates "that's housing starting to bleed through into other areas of the economy," DiMartino said. 

"Pay attention to credit market volatility," she added. "What we've seen with GE (GE) - Get Free Report bonds, what we've seen with PG&E (PCG) - Get Free Report bonds, these are investment grade companies that are beginning to look like they're trading like junk bonds." 

"If he starts to see genuine slowing in the real economy, I don't see Jay Powell not taking the opportunity to pause, and he's obviously very slowly opening that door," she concluded. 

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