Last week’s economic reporting included readings on inflation, retail sales, and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.
Consumer Inflation Rate Falls as Gas Prices Decrease
Lower gas prices was welcomed news to consumers last week, but analysts said that high inflation would continue to impact consumer goods including groceries. The core inflation rate, which excludes volatile food and fuel prices, rose by 0.60 percent, which was twice the expected month-to-month pace of 0.30 percent. Rapidly rising inflation could cause the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve to raise its target interest rate range again in a further attempt to slow runaway inflation.
While lower gas prices provided good news for consumers, rising costs for food, clothing, and household goods added to financial pressures for many families. The Fed indicated that it would increase its target interest rate range as needed to ease rapidly rising prices.
The consumer price index rose by 8.30 percent year-over-year, which exceeded the expected reading of 8.00 percent, but fell short of July’s year-over-year reading of 8.50 percent growth. The year-over-year reading for core consumer prices showed 6.30 percent growth which exceeded expectations of 6.00 percent growth and July’s reading of 5.90 percent growth.
In related news, retail sales rose by 0.30 percent in August and exceeded expectations of 0.10 percent month-to-month growth but fell short of July’s reading of 0.40 percent growth in retail sales. August’s retail sales excluding autos were -0.30 percent lower than in July. Analysts expected 0.10 percent growth in sales based on a flat reading of 0.00 percent growth n July. Consumers assumed a wait-and-see position about spending and chose to hold on to their cash.
Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims
Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates as the average fixed rate for 30-year mortgages exceeded six percent for the first time since 2008. Rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 13 basis points higher than in the previous week at 6.02 percent; rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 5.21 percent and five basis points higher. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 29 basis points higher at 4.93 percent. Discount points averaged 0.80 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and0.90 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.20 percent.
Fewer new jobless claims were filed last week with 213,000 first-time claims filed as compared to the previous week’s reading of 218,000 initial jobless claims filed. Analysts expected 225,000 new jobless claims to be filed. The University of Michigan’s Consumer sentiment rose to an index reading of 59.5 in September as compared to the expected reading of 60.0 and August’s reading of 58.2. Consumer sentiment readings over 50 indicate that most consumers feel positive about current economic conditions.
This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on the U.S. housing market, sales of previously-owned homes, data on housing starts, and building permits. issued Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.