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Inflation Falls

December 5, 2018

 

Overview: While the stock market was volatile this past week, it was relatively quiet for mortgage rates. The economic data and the G20 meeting caused little reaction, and rates ended the week a bit lower.

The latest data revealed that inflation has continued trending down over the last few months and remains below the Federal Reserve’s target level. In October, the core Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Price Index, which excludes the volatile food and energy components, was 1.8% higher than a year ago, down from an annual rate of increase of 1.9% last month. This is the monthly inflation indicator favored by Fed officials, and 2.0% is their stated target level.

 

The most recent housing sector data again came in below expected levels. In October, the Pending Home Sales Index fell 3% from September, which was 7% lower than a year ago and the lowest level since July 2014. In contrast to the Existing Home Sales report, which measures actual closings, the pending home sales data is based on contracts signed to purchase previously owned homes. This makes pending home sales a more current indicator of housing market activity. A continued lack of inventory and an increase in mortgage rates are two of the primary headwinds slowing the pace of home sales.


Week Ahead 

Looking ahead, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Services Index will be released on Thursday. The next key Employment Report will come out on Friday. As usual, these figures on the number of jobs, the unemployment rate, and wage inflation will be the most highly anticipated economic data of the month. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) will provide additional labor market data on December 11. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) will come out on December 12. CPI is a widely followed monthly inflation report that looks at the price change for goods and services.

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