The previous week offered a blend of economic updates, encompassing data on inflation trends, the pulse of consumer sentiment, and the weekly oscillations in mortgage rates and unemployment claims.
August Sees a Slight Upward Trend in Inflation
The latest data on monthly inflation was made public on September 13th, revealing that core inflation in August experienced a jump of 0.3 percent over its July reading. This number is a tad above the anticipated 0.2 percent and also overshadows July’s reading, which was set at 0.2 percent relative to the preceding month. Drawing from the Consumer Price Index, August witnessed a year-over-year inflation of 3.7 percent.
In a broader perspective, the inflation rate observed a 2.4 percent increase in the past quarter when compared to the same timeframe a year ago. This is a downward shift from the 5.0 percent recorded in the previous quarter and marks the most modest inflation rate since March of 2021. As September progresses, all attention will turn to the Federal Reserve’s impending meeting. Given that the current inflation is above the Fed’s target of 2.0 percent, speculations are circulating about whether an interest rate rise is on the horizon or if the existing rate adjustments will be given more time to work.
A Shift in Mortgage Rates and Employment Dynamics
The current 30-year fixed mortgage rate hovers around 7.51 percent, one of the highest rates seen in two decades. This is an upward jump from August, where the rates averaged at 7.18 percent. This trend is impacting potential homeowners. Meanwhile, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate stands close to 6.51 percent, mirroring August’s average, which rounded off at 6.55 percent.
Comparing the current mortgage figures to those of the previous week, there’s been a marginal decline in the 30-year fixed rate from 7.55 percent to 7.51 percent. The 15-year fixed rate remains relatively stable at 6.51 percent, with the past week’s average being 6.52 percent. These rising interest rates seem to be impacting in the broader economy, with a projected 6.4 million individuals unemployed, translating to a 3.8 percent rate. The US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor and Statistics pinpointed 1.8 million claims for unemployment benefits in August.
Consumer Sentiment: A Mild Dip
The University of Michigan released its consumer sentiment report for the month, showing a slight drop in consumer optimism. While August’s index stood at 69.5, September witnessed a dip, bringing it down to 67.7.
This dip implies that despite the decreasing inflation rates, there remains a cloud of uncertainty amongst consumers. This could be attributed to potential interest rate hikes and a subtle slowing down of the job market. The prevailing mood is still optimistic, but the trend is shifting.
The next week promises updates on mortgage rates, while September 20th is the Federal Reserve’s next meeting. The focal point for many will be the Fed’s decision on the interest rates—whether they opt for another raise or choose to hold them steady for the upcoming period.