A potential peak for Omicron variant cases, the Fed chairman’s remarks on combatting inflation, an anticipated slowdown in global growth, higher consumer prices, and renewed self-isolation habits are among the top business news items this morning.
There are indications that the spike in COVID-19 cases brought on by the Omicron variant may soon peak in the United States. Scientists say the variant’s rapid spread means it is running out of people to infect more quickly than previous variants, with cases in the United Kingdom already on a steep decline.
Speaking before Congress, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank is committed to raising interest rates more over time if necessary to combat inflation that has persisted longer than expected. Economists expect the Fed to make as many as four rate increases this year, a move which would help rein in inflation but also make borrowing more expensive.
The World Bank is anticipating slower economic growth this year due to factors such as the COVID-19 Omicron variant, supply chain disruptions, and labor shortages. The organization is expecting 4.1 percent growth in 2022, down from 5.5 percent in 2021.
Consumer prices rose 7 percent in December, according to the latest update of the Consumer Price Index. The data also reflected how early concerns over the Omicron variant were driving down prices in areas such as travel and other in-person services.
Americans have returned to self-isolation habits amid the spike in COVID-19 cases, according to an Axios-Ipsos poll. Respondents were less likely to say they have dined out or visited friends and family compared to the previous month.