Fed's Yellen defended low rate policy to a savers group Fed's Yellen defended low rate policy to a savers group that included consumer advocate Ralph Nader and Guy Vidal, who wrote a letter on behalf of "humble savers" calling for sharply higher rates. She said that "An overly aggressive increase in rates... would undercut the economic expansion, necessitating a lasting return to low interest rates." This would benefit savers at most only temporarily and most Fed policymakers expect the pace of rate hikes to be a gradual one. Yellen noted that had the Fed hiked aggressively many of the savers represented in the letter "would have lost their jobs or pensions, or faced increased burdens from supporting unemployed children and grandchildren." Though the letter and response are interesting, the Fed has been banging on the "gradual" policy drum for a while as part of the gentle lift-off strategy.
3-Month Bill Auction Total Amount data reported 3-Month Bill Auction Total Amount at $28 B
Stocks churning in afternoon trading Stocks are mixed in afternoon trading, with the Dow lagging, the Nasdaq leading and the S&P essentially flat. The averages have moved in a narrow range throughout the day and each of them remains close to the flat line. Despite the lack of upward movement in the averages, the number of advancing stocks is ahead of declining stocks by about 5:4 and up volume is similarly ahead of down volume. Oil prices have also moved in a narrow range near $42 per barrel.