Last week’s economic reports included Consumer Price Index and Core index for September, the minutes of the FOMC meeting held September 15 and 17, and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.
FOMC Minutes Hint at Looming Rate Hike as Inflation Lags
Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting held in September suggest that while Fed policy makers have reservations about low inflation and labor markets, they may go ahead and raise the target federal funds rate from its current range of 0.00 to 0.25 percent. When the fed does raise rates, consumers can expect to see higher mortgage rates as well as loan rates on products such as personal loans and credit cards. FOMC members also expressed concerns over lagging inflation below the FOMC benchmark of 2.00 percent.
September’s Core Consumer Price Index report showed a slight reduction as consumer prices fell by -0.20 percent which matched analyst’s expectations and was lower than August’s reading of -0.10 percent. The reduction in consumer prices was caused by falling fuel prices. The Core Consumer Price Index for September, which does not include readings for energy or food prices, rose by -0.20 percent which exceeded predictions of an 0.10 percent increase and August’s reading of +0.10 percent.
Mortgage Rates Rise as New Jobless Claims Fall
Freddie Mac reported that fixed mortgage rates rose while rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage held steady last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by six basis points to 3.82 percent while the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by four basis points to 3.03 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 2.88 percent. Average discount points were unchanged at 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
New jobless claims fell to 255,000 against expectations of 270,000 and the prior week’ reading of 262,000 new claims. The four-week rolling average of new claims fell by 2250 new jobless claims and reached its lowest level since 1973.
In other jobs-related news, job openings fell from July\’s reading of 5.70 million to 5.40 million in August. The Labor Department also reported that the hiring rate and quit rates held steady at 3.60 percent and 1.90 percent.
This week’s scheduled economic news releases include The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, September Housing Starts and Existing Home Sales in addition to usual weekly reports on mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims.