Last week’s economic reports included readings on inflation, core inflation, and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.
April Inflation Rate Hits 13-Year High
The federal government’s Consumer Price Index rose by 0.80 percent in April as compared to the March reading of 0.60 percent. Analysts expected inflation to increase by 0.20 percent in April. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and fuel sectors, rose by 0.90 percent in April. Analysts expected core inflation to grow by 0.30 percent in April which would have been unchanged from the March reading of 0.30 percent Core inflation rose month-to-month at the fastest pace in forty years and grew by three percent year-over-year, which was the highest growth rate since September 2008.
Consumer gas prices surpassed $3.00 per gallon for the first time since 2014; last week’s shutdown of Colonial Pipeline’s main transmission line was expected to drive gasoline prices higher. Prices of used cars and trucks rose 10 percent in April and contributed to a 21 percent increase in used vehicle prices year-over-year. Costs for shelter rose 2.10 percent year-over-year and were 0.0 percent higher month to month. Analysts noted that high inflation rates are caused in part by the low pace of inflation reported during the pandemic. Inflation Growth percentages are higher than they would have been if inflation had not slowed during the pandemic.
Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims, and Consumer Sentiment Fall
Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week. Rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.94 percent and were two basis points lower. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.26 percent and were four basis points lower; the average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages dropped by 11 basis points to 2.59 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent, 0.60 percent, and 0.30 percent respectively.
First-time jobless claims were lower last week with 473,000 initial claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 507,000 new jobless claims filed. Continuing jobless claims were also lower with 3.66 million ongoing claims filed; 3.70 million continuing jobless claims were filed in the prior week. The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index reading was lower in May with a reading of 82.8 as compared to the expected reading of 90.1 and April’s index reading of 88.3.
This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings from the National Association of Home Builders on housing markets, data on sales of previously-owned homes, and Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Minutes of the Fed’s most recent Federal Open Market Committee meeting will be released along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims.