June 18th, 2019
Last week’s economic reports included readings on inflation, retail sales and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.
Consumer Price Index Lower in May as Retail Sales Hold Steady
Last month’s Consumer Price Index, which is a widely-used gauge of inflation, dropped to 0.10 percent in May and matched expectations. April posted month-to-month growth of 0.30 percent. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and fuel sectors, rose 0.10 percent in May and fell short of expectations of 0.20 percent growth.
April’s Core Consumer Price Index grew by 0.10 percent. Analysts reported a likely slowdown in economic expansion last week. Consumers, vendors and financial analysts said trade wars and global economic uncertainty were factors in concerns over economic conditions.
Retail sales rose from April’s reading of 0.30 percent to 0.50 percent in May; retail sales without automotive sales held steady with 0.50 percent growth. April retail sales also had 0.50 percent growth.
Mortgage Rates Stay Near Two Year Low
Freddie Mac reported average mortgage rates were little changed last week. 30-year mortgage rates averaged 3.52 percent and were unchanged from the prior week. 15-year fixed mortgage rates averaged 3.26 percent and were two basis points lower.
5/1 adjustable rate mortgages dropped one basis point to 3.51 percent on average. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages, 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
First-time jobless claims rose to 222,000 claims filed last week, which exceeded expectations of 218,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 219,000 initial jobless claims. Analysts said that labor markets remained solid, but layoffs in California and Pennsylvania caused new jobless claims to rise last week.
The University of Michigan reported lower consumer sentiment in June with an index reading of 97.90 as compared to May’s reading of 100.00; 40 percent of consumers surveyed cited concerns over pending tariffs against Mexico for falling confidence in economic conditions.
The tariffs against Mexico were sidelined, which may boost consumer confidence readings in July. When tariffs were set against imports from China, only 21 percent of survey participants identified tariffs as cause for concern.
This week’s scheduled economic releases include reports from the National Association of Home Builders on housing markets conditions, the Federal Reserve’s FOMC meeting statement and a press conference from Fed Chair Jerome Powell. Data on sales of pre-owned homes will be released along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.