Last week’s scheduled economic reports included readings on inflation, Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s testimony before the House Financial Services Committee, and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.
Consumer Price Index: June Inflation Grows at Fastest Pace Since 2008
June’s Consumer Price Index showed the fastest pace of inflationary growth in 13 years; inflation grew by 5.40 percent on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Used car sales accounted for one-third of the growth, but prices also rose for clothes, food, energy, and travel/hospitality. The year-over-year inflation rate for May was 5.00 percent.
Inflation grew by 0.90 percent month-to-month, which exceeded analyst’s expectations of 0.50 percent growth and 0.60 percent growth in May. The Core Consumer Price Index, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors also grew by 0.90 percent in June as compared to a month-to-month reading of 0.70 percent in May. Analysts expressed concern that the rapid pace of inflation may not slow as quickly as the Federal Reserve predicted.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell Testifies Before House Financial Services Panel
Fed Chair Jerome Powell maintained the Federal Reserve’s earlier prediction that the pace of inflation would ease, but not immediately: “Inflation has increased notably and will likely remain elevated in coming months before moderating.”Mr.Powell said that inflationary growth has come in at a faster pace than the Fed was hoping to see.
Chair Powell identified three factors contributing to current inflationary growth. Weak inflationary growth during the pandemic will drop out of the year-over-year calculation; Production and supply chain constraints have led to sharp price increases after the pandemic. The third factor is a surge in demand for services as the economy reopens.
The Fed Chair said that “it’s a pretty narrow group of things that are producing these high readings.”
Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Fall
Freddie Mac reported mixed mortgage rates last week as the rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.88 percent and were two basis points lower. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by two basis points to an average of 2.22 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages fell by five basis points to 2.47 percent on average; Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and 0.60 percent for 15-yar fixed-rate mortgages. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.30 percent.
New jobless claims fell to 360,000 initial claims filed from the previous week’s reading of 386,000 claims filed. Data for continuing jobless claims were not updated last week.
The University of Michigan reported no change in its Consumer Sentiment Index for July with an index reading of 85.5. Analysts expected a reading of 86.3.
This week’s scheduled economic reporting includes readings from the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, reports on housing starts and building permits, and data on existing home sales. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.