Last week’s economic reports were limited due to closures connected with coronavirus regulations. The Federal Reserve did not issue minutes for the most recent Federal Open Market Committee meeting as the meeting was canceled.
Inflation readings were released; weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were released along with the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index.
Consumer Price Index Falls In March
The Consumer Price Index dropped by -0.40 percent in March; this was its biggest decline in five years. Lower inflation was largely due to falling fuel prices.
The Core Consumer Price Index, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, fell by -0.10 percent in March as compared to 0.10 percent growth in February.
The year-over-year inflation rate fell to 1.50 percent growth as compared to February’s year-over-year inflation rate of 2.30 percent.
Products including toilet tissue and disinfectant supplies have disappeared from many store shelves; analysts said that manufacturers of household staples use a steady approach to production and were not prepared or able to meet skyrocketing demand caused by COVID-19.
Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Little Changed
Freddie Mac reported no change in 30-year fixed mortgage rates that averaged 3.33 percent; the average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages was five basis points lower at 2.77 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were unchanged at 3.40 percent.
Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and 0.60 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. Discount points averaged 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages.
Initial jobless claims grew by 6.60 million claims last week; this was just shy of the previous week’s reading of 6.90 million claims filed. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, new jobless claims were typically reported in the mid-200,000 range.
The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index reflected consumer concerns about the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. April’s index reading was 71.0 as compared to the March reading of 89.1.
This week’s scheduled economic reports include the NAHB Housing Market Index, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Retail sales data will be released along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.