Last week’s economic reporting included readings on inflation, retail sales, and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on average mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.
Inflation Rate Slows as Retail Sales Increase
Inflation rose 0.20 percent in September, which was the slowest growth rate in four months. Analysts credited the rise in consumer prices to less post-pandemic price shock as consumers adjusted to higher prices for goods. Consumer prices were boosted by used vehicle prices, which increased at their highest pace in 51 years. Core consumer prices, which exclude volatile food and fuel sectors, also rose by 0.20 percent in September as compared to August’s reading of 0.40 percent.
The Commerce Department reported higher retail sales growth in September at a pace of 1.90 percent as compared to the expected reading of 1.20 percent and August’s reading of 0.60 percent growth in sales. Retail sales excluding the automotive sector grew by 1.50 percent in September and exceeded expected sales growth of 0.30 percent, and August’s retail sales growth of 0.50 percent.
Mortgage Rates Fall to New Record Low, Jobless Claims Data Mixed
Freddie Mac reported new record lows for average mortgage rates last week as the average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell by six basis points to 2.81 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.35 percent and were two basis points lower. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages rose by one basis point to 2.90 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.20 percent.
Last week’s jobless claims data showed mixed readings as initial jobless claims rose to 898,000 claims filed and surpassed the expected reading of 825,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 845,000 initial jobless claims filed. 10.02 million continuing jobless claims were filed last week as compared to 11.18 million ongoing claims filed in the prior week.
The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index rose in October with an index reading of 81.2; this surpassed the expected reading of 79.9 and September’s reading of 80.4. October’s higher index readings suggest that consumers are adjusting to new economic realities caused by the pandemic and revising their expectations accordingly. The upcoming holiday season’s data for retail sales and consumer sentiment will provide additional indications of how Americans are coping with and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings from the NAHB on U.S. housing markets Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Data on sales of previously-owned homes will be released along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims.