Last week’s economic reporting included month-to-month and year-over-year readings on inflation. The University of Michigan released its monthly consumer sentiment index; weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also published.
Inflation Reports: No Good News for Consumers
The war in Ukraine increased inflation rates in the U.S in February as costs for fuel, food and housing continued to rise. The federal government reported that month-to-month inflation rose by 0.80 percent in February; analysts expected a month-to-month increase of 0.70 percent as compared to January’s reading of 0.60 percent.
Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, rose by 0.50 percent in February and matched expectations. January’s month-to-month rate for core inflation was 0.60 percent and was the highest reading for month-to-month core inflation since 1981.
Analysts reported that high inflation was impacting low and moderate-income Americans more as rapidly rising costs for housing, food, and fuel rose faster than wages for most.
Year-over-year inflation rose by 7.90 percent in February as compared to January’s reading of 7.50 percent. Core inflation rose at a year-over-year pace of 6.40 percent in February and surpassed January’s core reading of 6.00 percent. Core inflation readings exclude volatile food and fuel sectors.
Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Rise
Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week as the rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages increased by nine basis points to 3.85 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.09 percent and were eight basis points higher than in the previous week.
The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was six basis points higher at 2.97 percent. Discount points averaged 0.80 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
Last week’s initial jobless claims rose to 217,000 new claims filed as compared to 216,000 first-time claims filed in the previous week. Analysts expected initial jobless claims filed last week to match the previous week’s reading of 216,000 first-time claims filed. Continuing jobless claims rose to 1.49 million claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 1.47 million ongoing claims filed.
The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Survey reflected consumer concerns over inflation and the potential economic impacts of the Ukraine war. The March index reading of 59.7 was lower than February’s reading of 62.8 and the expected index reading of 62.0. Index readings over 50 indicate that most consumers are confident about economic conditions.
What’s Ahead for the Week of March 14, 2022
This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on US housing markets, the Federal Reserve’s statement on interest rates, and the Federal Reserve chairman’s press conference. Data on building permits, housing starts, and sales of previously-owned homes will also be released. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be published.
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