November 2, 2017
In a well telegraphed sign of continuity, President Trump has named Jerome Powell as his choice to head the Federal Reserve. Powell is known as a policy moderate and if confirmed by the Senate, will take over from Janet Yellen in early February. But it was tax reform that made the bigger splash for the markets as House Republicans unveiled a mixed package of their own that would double the standard deduction and expand child tax credit but also eliminate personal exemptions. It would repeal state and local tax deductions but preserve property tax breaks and, in a proposal that sent shares of home builders lower, it would cut in half the allowable mortgage deduction to $500,000 for newly purchased homes.
In economic data, productivity put in a solid 3.0 percent showing in the third quarter as output rose much faster than hours worked. And jobless claims keep coming down as does Challenger's layoff count, both confirmation that the economy is at full employment. Stocks were mixed but not the Dow which rose a solid 0.4 percent to 23,516 and a new record. Demand for bonds edged higher with the 10-year Treasury yield down slightly to 2.35 percent. Oil firmed 50 cents to $54.75 with gold steady nearly $1,275.