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.
March Inflation Slows as Retail Sales Fall
Inflation slowed to a month-to-month pace of 0.10 percent in March as compared to February’s reading of 0.40 percent growth. Year-over-year inflation rose by 5.00 percent and fell short of analysts’ expected reading of 5.10 percent year-over-year inflation and February’s year-over-year inflation rate of 6.00 percent.
Core inflation, which excludes volatile readings for food and fuel, rose by 0.40 percent in March and matched analysts’ expectations. The year-over-year reading for core inflation showed 5.00 percent inflation year-over-year in March; analysts expected a year-over-year reading of 5.10 percent and February’s year-over-year reading 6.00 percent. While food and fuel costs are significant for most households, the Fed views the core reading as a more stable indicator of inflationary trends.
Retail sales fell by 1.00 percent in March; analysts expected a reading of –0.50 percent. Retail sales excluding autos fell by –0.80 percent in March. Analysts forecasted a reading of –0.40 percent for March retail sales as compared with February’s reading of 0.00 percent change in retail sales.
Mortgage Rates Fall as Jobless Claims Increase
Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates for the fifth consecutive week as the average rate for 30-year fixed rate mortgages fell by one basis point to 6.27 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages were also one basis point lower and averaged 5.54 percent.
First-time jobless claims rose to 239,000 claims filed as compared to the previous week’s reading of 228,000 claims filed and analysts’ expectations of 235,000 new claims filed. Continuing jobless claims fell to 1.81 million ongoing claims filed as compared to the previous week’s reading of 1.82 million claims.
The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index for April showed a confidence reading of 63.5 as compared to the expected reading of 62 and the March reading of 62. Readings above 50 indicate that most consumers are confident about current economic conditions.
This week’s scheduled economic reporting includes readings on U.S. housing markets, sales of previously owned homes, housing starts, and building permits issued. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.