Last week’s scheduled economic reporting included readings on inflation and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.
Inflation Rate Rises in November
Inflation rose by 0.20 percent in November according to the federal government, but this reading fell short of the Federal Reserve’s goal of achieving 2.00 percent inflation annually. November’s year-over-year inflation rate was 1.20 percent. October’s inflation reading was flat and analysts expected inflation to grow by 0.10 percent in November.
Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and fuel sectors, showed readings identical to the Consumer Price Index reading. November’s Core Consumer Price Index was impacted by lower food and fuel costs.
Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Shareholder Suit over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were put under the oversight of the Federal Housing Finance Agency after the Great Recession and resulting mortgage crisis. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding shareholder assertions that oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is unconstitutional.
Mortgage Rates Mixed as Jobless Claims Rise
Freddie Mac reported no change in average fixed mortgage rates last week. Rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.71 percent; the average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages was also unchanged at 2.26 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 2.79 percent and were seven basis points lower than in the prior week. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, 0.60 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
First-time jobless claims were higher last week with 853,000 new claims filed as compared to 716,000 first-time claims filed the prior week. Analysts expected 720,000 first-time claims last week. Ongoing jobless claims also rose with 5.76 million claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 5.53 million continuing claims filed. Increasing numbers of coronavirus cases caused higher than expected layoffs last week.
The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index rose in December to an index reading of 81.4. Analysts expected December’s reading to decrease to 75.5 based on November’s index reading of 76.9. As winter progresses and Covid-19 cases continue to rise, consumer sentiment toward economic conditions will likely decline.
This week’s scheduled economic readings include reports from the National Association of Home Builders on housing market conditions; the Commerce Department will release reports on housing starts and building permits issued. The Federal Reserve will issue its Federal Open Market Committee Statement and Fed Chair Jerome Powell is slated to give a post-meeting press conference.