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Federal Open Market Committee; Domestic Policy Directive of December 21, 1999

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In accordance with § 71.5 of its rules regarding availability of information (12 CFR part 271), there is set forth below the domestic policy directive issued by the Federal Open Market Committee at its meeting held on December 21, 1999.[1]

The information reviewed at this meeting suggests continued strong expansion of economic activity. Nonfarm payroll employment increased substantially further in October and November, and the civilian unemployment rate stayed at 4.1 percent in November, its low for the year. Manufacturing output recorded sizable gains in October and November. Total retail sales rose appreciably over the two months. Housing activity has softened somewhat over recent months but has remained at a high level. Trends in orders suggest that business spending on capital equipment has increased further. The U.S. nominal trade deficit in goods and services rose in October from its average in the third quarter. Aggregate price increases have been smaller in the past two months, reflecting a flattening in energy prices; labor compensation rates have been rising more slowly than last year.

Most market interest rates are up somewhat since the meeting on November 16, 1999. Measures of share prices in equity markets have risen further over the intermeeting period. In foreign exchange markets, the trade-weighted value of the dollar has changed little over the period in relation to the currencies of a broad group of important U.S. trading partners.

M2 continued to grow at a moderate pace in November while M3 surged. For the year through November, M2 and M3 are estimated to have increased at rates somewhat above the Committee's annual ranges for 1999. Total domestic nonfinancial debt has expanded at a pace in the upper end of its range.

The Federal Open Market Committee seeks monetary and financial conditions that will foster price stability and promote sustainable growth in output. In furtherance of these objectives, the Committee reaffirmed at its meeting in June the ranges it had established in February for growth of M2 and M3 of 1 to 5 percent and 2 to 6 percent respectively, measured from the fourth quarter of 1998 to the fourth quarter of 1999. The range for growth of total domestic nonfinancial debt was maintained at 3 to 7 percent for the year. For 2000, the Committee agreed on a tentative basis in June to retain the same ranges for growth of the monetary aggregates and debt, measured from the fourth quarter of 1999 to the fourth quarter of 2000. The behavior of the monetary aggregates will continue to be evaluated in the light of progress toward price level stability, movements in their velocities, and developments in the economy and financial markets.

To promote the Committee's long-run objectives of price stability and sustainable economic growth, the Committee in the immediate future seeks conditions in reserve markets consistent with maintaining the federal funds rate at an average of around 51/2 percent. In view of the evidence currently available, the Committee believes that prospective developments are equally likely to warrant an increase or a decrease in the federal funds rate operating objective during the intermeeting period.

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By order of the Federal Open Market Committee, February 10, 2000.

Donald L. Kohn,

Secretary, Federal Open Market Committee.

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1.  Copies of the Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting of December 21, 1999, which include the domestic policy directive issued at that meeting, are available upon request to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Washington, DC 20551. The minutes are published in the Federal Reserve Bulletin and in the Board's annual report.

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[FR Doc. 00-4216 Filed 2-22-00; 8:45 am]