U.S. consumer confidence rebounded strongly in March amid optimism over the labor market while house prices increased in January, hopeful signs that a recent sharp slowdown in economic activity was probably a blip.
The Federal Reserve will have a "strong" case to hike U.S. interest rates in June, a hawkish Fed official said on Tuesday, dismissing recently weak economic data as transitory and perhaps due to unseasonable weather. Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker, who has long called for a prompt tightening of monetary policy, said consumer spending, the labor market and other economic conditions have improved significantly over the last year. A voting member this year on Fed policy who made many familiar arguments, Lacker predicted more improvement in the labor market and wages in the months ahead, and 2.0 to 2.5 percent GDP growth for the year. "Given what we know today, a strong case can be made that the federal funds rate should be higher than it is now," Lacker said in prepared remarks to the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks declined on Tuesday in a retreat from the previous session's sharp rally, but major indexes remained on track for first-quarter gains and the S&P 500 was set for its ninth straight quarterly rise.
U.S. stocks are forecast to post more modest gains this year than in 2014 as rising interest rates and a firmer dollar partly offset strong economic growth, a Reuters poll found. Strategists are optimistic about U.S. economic prospects for 2015, but they said the market could pull back once the Federal Reserve raises interest rates. The Fed is expected to do so for the first time in almost a decade later this year if the economy, especially the labor market, keeps improving. Strategists lowered their midyear target for the S&P to a median of 2,073 from 2,103 in a December poll and reduced the Dow Jones Industrial Average estimate to 18,000 from 18,500.
Brent crude oil dropped towards $55 a barrel on Tuesday as Iran and six world powers entered a final day of talks over a nuclear deal that could see the energy-rich country increase oil exports to world markets. With a self-imposed deadline set for the end of the day, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China ramped up the pace of negotiations with Iran in Switzerland over an outline deal on Tehran's nuclear programme. Disagreements on enrichment research and the pace of lifting sanctions remained as hurdles that could scupper a deal to end a 12-year standoff between Iran and the West. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Moscow he believed the talks had a good chance of success.