July 17th, 2018
Last Week’s economic readings included reports on inflation, mortgage rates, new jobless claims and consumer sentiment.
Inflation Slows in June
The Consumer Price Index for June inched down to 0.10 percent growth in June as compared to May’s reading of 0.20 percent. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, rose 0.20 percent, which matched expectations and May’s reading of 0.20 percent.
Year-over-year inflation rose by 2.90 percent. This was the highest rate of growth in six years. Inflation increased by a year-over-year rate of 1.60 percent in the prior year.
While inflationary growth signals strengthening economic conditions, it can also cause challenges for consumers if inflation outpaces wage growth. In recent years rapidly, rising home prices have outstripped inflation and wage growth.
Mortgage Rates Rise as New Jobless Claims Fall
Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week for the first time since June. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose one basis point to an average of 4.53 percent; The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose three basis points to 4.02 percent.
The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages rose 12 basis points to 3.86 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 6/1 adjustable rate mortgages. Analysts said that global economic trends caused the 10-year Treasury yield to rise as investors moved away from stocks.
First-time jobless claims fell by 18,000 claims to 214,000 new claims filed; this approached the lowest level of new jobless claims in 49 years. Analysts said that current low levels of new claims showed the healthiest jobs markets since the dot com boom in the 1990s.
Fewer first-time jobless claims suggested that more workers are confident about quitting their current jobs for new jobs. Improved consumer confidence in job security could mean that more consumers will be ready to buy homes.
Consumer sentiment also dropped in July according to the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index. Consumer sentiment fell to an index reading of 97.1 as compared to expectations of 98.9 and June’s reading of 98.2. Concerns over recently imposed tariffs caused consumer sentiment to dip.
This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on retail sales, the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index and Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.