A small decline in new home sales and other signs that the economy is softening suggest that Federal Reserve policy-makers will be able to refrain from raising interest rates this week.
The Fed’s policy-making committee, scheduled to finish a two-day meeting today, hasn’t touched short-term interest rates in a full year, when it lowered the benchmark federal funds rate on intrabank loans to 5.25 percent.
And it hasn’t raised rates in two years.
The Conference Board, a business research group in New York, reported Tuesday that the Index of Leading Economic Indicators rose a scant 0.1 percent in December. That followed a 0.2 percent gain in November and no change in October.
The Commerce Department, meanwhile, said Tuesday that new home sales dipped 1 percent in December. That followed a huge 17.7 percent jump in November.
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