The potential for an accelerated increase in Fed rates, the CDC holding firm on its “fully vaccinated” definition, an increase in unemployment claims, and a retail forecast of a potential rise in inflation due to the Omicron variant are among the top business news items this morning.
Federal Reserve officials are considering raising rates more quickly than previously anticipated, according to minutes from their latest meeting. The Fed previously projected that it will raise rates three times this year, and the first increase could come as early as March.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it currently does not have any plans to change its definition of “fully vaccinated” to include COVID-19 vaccine booster shots. Slightly more than one-third of Americans have received a booster, and some businesses have started requiring boosters for in-person work.
Initial unemployment claims rose last week to 207,000, with the four-week moving average rising slightly to 204,500. Continuing claims for the week prior increased to 1.75 million.
Jack Kleinhenz, the chief economist of the National Retail Federation, anticipates that the COVID-19 Omicron variant is unlikely to prompt new lockdowns but could create further economic uncertainty and inflationary pressure. Kleinhenz said the spread of the variant could cause more people to stay home and spend their money on retail goods rather than in-person services, which would further strain supply chains and drive up prices.