Last week’s economic reporting included data on inflation and job openings, and weekly readings n mortgage rates, and jobless claims.
Inflation Rate Rises in February
Consumer prices grew by 0.40 percent in February according to the federal government’s Consumer Price Index; the year-over-year inflation rate rose from January’s reading of 1.40 percent to 1.70 percent. Consumer prices rose at their fastest pace in six months as rising fuel prices caused the jump in consumer prices. The Core Consumer Price Index, which does not include volatile food and fuel sectors, rose by 0.10 percent in February and matched analysts’ expectations.
Analysts expect continued economic expansion as Americans receive stimulus checks, get covid-19 vaccinations, and businesses reopen.
Mortgage Rates Rise as Jobless Claims Fall
Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week as the average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by three basis points to 3.05 percent. Interest rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.38 percent and rose by four basis points. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages also rose by four basis points to 2.77 percent on average.
Jobless claims fell to their lowest level since November. New jobless claims fell to 712,000 claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 754,000 initial claims filed in the prior week. Analysts expected 725,000 first-time claims to be filed. Last week’s reading showed the lowest pace of new jobless claims since November 7, when 211,000 first-time claims were filed.
Continuing jobless claims fell to 4.14 million claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 4.34 million claims filed. Jobless claims averaged fewer than two million claims filed before the pandemic. Accurate counts of individuals receiving jobless benefits were questioned due to the discovery of fraudulent claims and duplicate counting of some recipients. Analysts were advised to focus on jobless claims trends rather than individual claims data.
This week’s scheduled economic news includes the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Commerce Department readings on housing starts, and building permits issued. The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee will release its post-meeting statement and Fed Chair Janet Yellen will give a press conference. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.