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19 06, 2014

FOMC Statement: Quantitative Easing Tapered by $10 Billion

FOMC Statement Quantitative Easing Tapered by 10 BillionThe Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) determined that current economic conditions warranted another $10 billion reduction in the Fed’s asset purchases.

Citing improvements in economic indicators including labor markets and national unemployment, committee members said that further tapering of its quantitative easing (QE) asset purchases was warranted. The Fed will now purchase a total of $35 billion monthly in treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities.

While continued reductions in the Fed’s asset purchases could contribute to rising mortgage rates, the FOMC statement said that the Fed’s “sizeable and still increasing” holdings of long-term securities is expected to hold down long term interest rates including mortgage rates.

The FOMC statement included its standard caveat that reductions to QE purchases are not on a preset course and that committee members will continue close analysis of financial and economic news and conditions as part of decisions to change the volume of QE asset purchases.

Committee Monitoring Unemployment, Inflation

Unemployment remains “elevated” according to the FOMC statement. Committee members said that they will continue to monitor unemployment readings, but committee members expect that overall improvement in economic conditions will continue to justify the current target rate for federal funds at between 0.00 and 0.25 percent.

The FOMC statement notes that this “highly accommodative” policy will likely remain in effect for a considerable period after the QE asset purchases conclude.

Committee members continue to monitor the inflation rate, which remains below the FOMC target rate of 2.00 percent. Noting that inflation persistently below the Fed’s target rate could hamper economic growth, the FOMC said that it expects inflation to move toward its target rate within the medium term.

FOMC Releases Forecasts for Key Indicators

FOMC released a table of its forecasts for certain economic sectors. Highlights include a projected reading of 6.00 to 6.10 percent for national unemployment for 2014, and the rate of inflation for personal consumer expenses at between 1.50 and 1.70 percent for 2014. According to its projections, the Fed’s target inflation rate of 2.00 percent is likely to be reached in 2015 or 2016.

Fed Chair Yellen Gives Press Conference

A major theme of Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s press conference was that there is no set formula for Fed decisions concerning interest rates, inflation and tapering its volume of asset purchases. She cited geopolitical risks including conflicts in Europe and developing civil crisis in Iraq as examples of influences on U.S. financial markets, energy supplies and prices.

Ms. Yellen said that while consumer spending has increased, the Fed wants to see wage growth exceed inflation so that consumers would see an actual increase in their incomes. She also cited the Fed’s target inflation rate of 2.00 percent as important to continued economic recovery.

A wide range of opinions among FOMC members about federal interest rates was mentioned by Ms. Yellen as an example of overall uncertainty about the economy and developing economic trends. She cautioned investors to be mindful of this uncertainty.

16 12, 2013

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 16, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - December 16 2013Mortgage Debt Rises For First Time Since Recession

Last week was relatively quiet concerning scheduled housing-related news, but the Federal Reserve’s financial accounts report, released on Monday, indicated that mortgage debt in the U.S. had increased for the first time since the first quarter (Q1) of 2008.

Mortgage debt increased by a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of $87.4 billion, or 0.90 percent. Mortgage debt remains approximately 12.00 percent below pre-recession levels.

Increasing debt is not often considered good news, but in the case of mortgage debt in today’s economy, it suggests economic recovery in the form of higher home prices and fewer foreclosures.

Another instance of counter-intuitive economic results was released Tuesday. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report for October.

JOLTS indicated that 2.39 million workers quit their jobs in October. This was the highest number of jobs quit since 2008. While this may appear counter-productive to a growing economy, it indicates that workers are leaving their jobs for better positions.

Mortgage Rates Fall, Federal Budget Deficit Shrinks

On Wednesday the U.S. Treasury announced that November’s federal budget deficit had shrunk to -$135 billion from November 2012’s deficit reading of -$172 billion. This represents a year-over-year deficit decrease of 21 percent.

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) report provided good news as average mortgage rates fell last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell from 4.46 percent to 4.42 percent. Discount points rose from the previous week’s reading of 0.50 percent to 0.70 percent.

15-year fixed rate mortgage rates fell from 3.47 percent to an average reading of 3.43 percent, with discount points rising from the prior week’s reading of 0.40 percent to 0.70 percent.

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped from 2.99 percent to 2.94 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.40 percent.

Lower mortgage rates are good news for home buyers facing higher home prices.

Weekly jobless claims rose last week. The previous week’s reading of 300,000 new jobless claims was short-lived as the reading for new jobless claims rose to 368,000 last week and surpassed a consensus of 335,000 new jobless claims.

Financial analysts cautioned that employment data can be volatile during the holidays, and noted that the four-week average of new unemployment claims rose by 6000 to 328,750.

Whats Coming Up

There are several significant releases set for housing-related news. The NAHB housing market index, Housing Starts, and Building permits indicate how current builder confidence and new construction may impact the supply of available homes.

On Wednesday, the FOMC will issue its usual statement at the conclusion of its two-day meeting. Some analysts expect an announcement concerning the Fed’s quantitative easing policy; Outgoing Fed Chair Ben Bernanke is set to give a press conference after the FOMC statement.

In addition to the weekly jobless claims report and Freddie Mac’s PMMS, Reports on Existing Home Sales and Leading Economic Indicators will also be released. 

7 10, 2013

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 7, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week- October 7, 2013This week’s economic news commentary has been dominated by the “what ifs” of a government shutdown; opinions of potential consequences are limited only by the number of commentators sharing their opinions.

Unfortunately, more concrete examples of the shutdown were evident last Tuesday and Friday.

The Department of Commerce delayed release of August’s Construction Spending report that were due last Tuesday and The Bureau of Labor Statistics delayed the release of September’s Non-farm Payroll and Unemployment that were due last Friday.

The ADP Employment report for September posted a reading of 166,000 private sector jobs added against expectations of 180,000 new jobs added. September jobs added surpassed August’s reading of 159,000 new jobs added in the private sector.

Mortgage Rates Remain Near Record Lows

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey released Thursday brought a third consecutive week of falling mortgage rates. 30-year fixed rate mortgages had an average rate of 4.22 percent down from 4.32 percent the previous week.

The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by eight basis points from 3.37 percent to 3.29 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell to 3.03 percent from 3.07 percent.

Discount points were unchanged from last week at 0.70 percent for both 30-year and 15-year fixed rate mortgages and rose from 0.50 percent to 0.60 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage loans.

Weekly Jobless Claims were lower than projected. The reading of 308,000 new jobless claims was better than the 313,000 new jobs expected, but was higher than the prior week’s 307,000 new jobless claims.

Whats Coming Up Next

This week’s scheduled economic reporting is also subject to adjustment if the federal government’s budget is not resolved. The most recent FOMC meeting minutes are due on Wednesday; if released they are expected to provide details about the Fed’s decision not to change its current quantitative easing program.

Weekly jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s PMMS survey of average mortgage rates are due Thursday. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index for October is set for release on Friday.

19 08, 2013

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 19, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week- August 19, 2013Last week wasn’t kind to stock market investors, but weekly jobless claims fell to an unexpected low of 320,000 new jobless claims filed, the lowest level in nearly six years.

Here is a review of the major events of the week.

Monday: The federal budget for July shows an increase in its deficit to -$98 billion, a deficit increase of $28 billion over June’s figure of -$70 billion. The good news is that the deficit for the first 10 months of the fiscal year is $38 billion less than during the same period of the prior fiscal year.

Thursday: Thursday was a busy day for economic news. The weekly jobless claims report came in lower than expected with 320,000 new jobless claims filed. This was lower than the expected.

While this is a strong sign for the economy that would typically boost stock prices, the markets fell. Analysts cite a good news/bad news scenario in describing what happened. The good news was that jobless claims fell to a new low, but the bad news is that investors feared that this may give the Fed a signal to begin tapering its quantitative easing (QE) program.

The Fed is expected to begin tapering its monthly purchases of $85 billion in treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities as early as next month. The QE purchases are intended to help hold down long term interest rates including mortgage rates.

The fall in stock prices on Thursday and Friday suggested that fear of the Fed ending QE is more compelling than the lowest number of new jobless claims since October 2007.

Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage remained unchanged at 4.40 percent with 0.7 percent in discount points. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage ticked upward by one basis point from 3.43 to 3.44 percent.

Discount points fell from 0.70 percent the prior week to 0.60 percent last week.

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) rose from 3.19 to 3.23 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent. The 5/1 ARM provides an alternative to higher fixed rates for borrowers seeking lower mortgage rates and payments.

Friday: Included Housing Starts for July, which came in at 896,000 as compared to expectations of 915, 00 0 and June’s figure of 846,000 housing starts. Building permits issued in July came in at 943,000, and surpassed June’s reading of 918,000 building permits.

Increasing home values, buyer demand and a short supply of available homes were seen as motivating factors for builders to construct more homes.

Looking Ahead

This week’s schedule of economic news is set to include the Chicago Fed’s National Activity Index on Tuesday. The FOMC minutes will be released on Wednesday along with Existing Home Sales.

Thursday will bring Weekly Jobless Claims, Freddie Mac’s survey of mortgage rates and the FHFA home price index. Friday will finish the week with a New Home Sales report.

 

12 08, 2013

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 12, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - August 12, 2013Highlights of economic news from last week, include a survey of senior loan officers from U.S. and foreign banks doing business in the U.S.

They indicated that banks were gradually easing lending standards for business and consumer loans, but viewed lending criteria for home loans as more restrictive than other types of loans.

According to CoreLogic, U.S. home prices increased at their fastest pace since February 2006. Mortgage rates rose incrementally, and the Weekly Jobless Claims report came in lower than the expected 339,000 at 333,000 new jobless claims.

Monday: Bank loan officers surveyed indicated that while mortgage lending requirements have been eased for low risk mortgage loans, it remains challenging for those with less-than-stellar credit to qualify for home loans.

Bankers noted some concern that easing credit standards may signal to the Fed that it’s time to taper the quantitative easing program that’s designed to keep long term interest rates, including mortgage rates, low.

Tuesday: The CoreLogic Home Prices report for June showed that home prices rose 1.90 percent in June, and rose by 11.88 percent year-over-year. 48 states showed rising home prices while only Mississippi and Delaware showed a decline.

Nevada led the list of higher home prices with a 27.00 percent gain year-over-year; Nevada home values were among the hardest-hit in the economic downturn.

Thursday: Weekly Jobless Claims came in at 333,000, which were higher than last week’s reading of 328,000 new jobless claims. The four-week average is considered a less volatile indicator of unemployment trends.

The four week rolling average for new jobless claims decreased by 6250 to 335,000. This was the lowest reading for the four-week rolling average since November 2007.

Freddie Mac’s weekly report on mortgage rates brought not-so-good news; the average rate for 30-year fixed rate mortgages rose by one basis point to 4.40 percent, while the average rate for a 15-year fixed mortgage was unchanged at 3.43 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 3.19 percent.

Discount points for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 15-year fixed rate mortgages were unchanged at 0.7 percent, while average discount points for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped to 0.5 percent.

What’s Coming Up

This week’s economic news includes the federal budget for Monday. Retail Sales and Core Retail Sales will be reported on Tuesday; the Producers Price Index (PPI) and Core PPI will be out on Wednesday.

Thursday’s news includes weekly jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates update. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Core CPI (excluding volatile food and energy sectors) will also be released. The NAHB Home Builders Housing Market Index (HMI) is also due Thursday.

Friday’s scheduled economic news includes Housing Starts, Building Permits and Consumer Sentiment for July.

5 08, 2013

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week- August 5, 2013

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week August 5 2013The past week brought encouraging economic news from several sources.

The FOMC statement indicated that the Federal Reserve has not set a date for rolling back its quantitative easing program and ADP reported more private sector jobs added than expected.

While weekly jobless claims were fewer than expected, the national unemployment rate remained elevated:

Monday: Pending Home Sales: The National Association of REALTORS reported that sales contracts fell in June due to rising mortgage rates and a tight inventory of available homes.

Tuesday: The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices showed that national home prices increased by 12.2 percent annually.

All 20 cities used in the 10 and 20 city home price indices posted gains in average home prices. Average U.S. home prices remained approximately 25 percent below their peak in 2006.

Consumer confidence dropped in July to a reading of 80.3 as compared to a revised reading of 82.1 in June. Higher mortgage rates and stubbornly high unemployment rates likely contributed to a cooling of consumer enthusiasm.

Wednesday: The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) said in its statement that based on its reading of current economic conditions,the committee had not set a date for beginning to reduce the Fed’s monthly asset purchase of $85 billion in Treasury securities and MBS.

The program, known as quantitative easing (QE), is intended to keep long-term interest rates including mortgage rates lower.

ADP reported that job growth for private-sector jobs exceeded expectations for July; the adjusted reading of 200,000 for July beat expectations of 185,000 jobs added and also surpassed June’s reading of 198,000 new jobs added.

The ADP jobs report is viewed by economists as a preview of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Non-farm Payrolls and National Unemployment reports, which are collectively known as the “Jobs Report.”

Thursday: Weekly jobless claims came in at 326,000. This was lower than expectations and the previous week’s reading, both of which were reported at 345,000 jobless claims.

Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates rose, with the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage coming in at 4.39 percent as compared to last week’s 4.31 percent.

Average rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage came in at 3.43 percent over last week’s 3.39 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was 3.18 percent and two basis points higher than the previous week’s 3.16 percent.

Friday: The July Non-farm Payrolls report showed that only 162,000 jobs were added as compared to expectations of 180,000 jobs added and June’s reading of 188,000 jobs added. While housing markets are showing strong improvement, high unemployment continues to be a drag on the economy.

The national unemployment rate for July was 7.40 percent and was lower than expectations of 7.50 percent and June’s reading of 7.60 percent.

What’s Coming Up This Week

This week’s economic news includes the Senior Loan Officer Survey set for Monday, the U.S. Trade Deficit and Job Openings reports for June on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, a report on Consumer Credit will be released and the Weekly Jobless Claims will be out Thursday, along with Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates report. No mortgage or related news is scheduled for Friday.

31 07, 2013

Case Shiller Home Price Index Shows Rising Prices For May 2013

Case Shiller Home Price Index Shows Rising Prices For May 2013The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index (HPI) released Tuesday presented solid evidence that the housing recovery continued during the month of May.

The Case-Shiller 20-City Index showed increasing home prices for all 20 cities.

Highest Year-Over-Year Gains Included Theses Cities:

  • San Francisco, CA 24.50 percent
  • Las Vegas, NV 23.30 percent
  • Phoenix, AZ 20.60 percent
  • Atlanta, GA 20.10 percent
  • Los Angeles, CA 19.20 percent

In surprising news, Dallas, TX and Denver, CO posted record year-over-year price gains that surpassed their pre-crisis peaks.

Year-over-year home prices in Dallas increased by 7.60 percent and Denver home prices increased by 9.70 percent year-over-year in May.

Home prices grew by 12.20 percent on a year-over year basis in May; this reading fell short of expectations of 12.40 percent, but moved slightly ahead of April’s reading of a 12.10 percent year-over year increase.

The Case-Shiller HPI is based on a three-month rolling year-over-year average of home prices in the cities surveyed.

Cities Post Month-To- Month Price Gains 

On a seasonally-adjusted month-to-month basis, home prices rose by 1.00 percent in May as compared to April. Expectations were for a 1.40 percent increase over April’s reading, which came in at 1.70 percent.

Top Gains From April To May Were Posted By These Cities:

  • San Francisco, CA 4.30 percent
  • Chicago, IL 3.70 percent
  • Atlanta, GA 3.40 percent
  • San Diego, CA 3.10 percent
  • Seattle, WA 3.10 percent

Analysts noted that home prices for two metro areas in Florida surpassed year-over-year gains in Washington, D.C.; this illustrates home values shifting geographically.

Miami home prices posted a month-to gain of 2.00 percent and a year-over-year gain of 14.20 percent.

Tampa, FL home prices posted a month-to-month gain of 1.80 percent on a year-over-year gain of 10.90 percent.

Washington, D.C. home prices gained 2.00 percent month-to-month in May, but only gained 6.50 percent year-over-year.

Rising Mortgage Rates Could Slow Price Momentum

It’s important to understand that the data in the Case-Shiller HPI lags a couple of months behind current market conditions; the latest numbers were compiled prior to mortgage rates spiking. Economists expect that the impact of higher mortgage rates won’t be seen in home prices until fall.

Higher mortgage rates are expected to slow home sales. If the demand for homes falls due to higher mortgage rates, inventories of available homes would expand, which would create competition among home sellers and potentially lead to lower home prices.

For any questions regarding your mortgage rate and buying a home feel free to contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

3 06, 2013

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week — June 3, 2013

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 3, 2013Last week’s financial news was relatively limited due to the Memorial Day holiday and no economic reports being released on Wednesday.

The biggest news in terms of housing and mortgages was the S&P/Case-Shiller Housing Market Indices (HMI) released on Tuesday.

The March HMI data for national housing markets reflected a sharp increase in year-over-year home prices from 9.30 percent in February to 10.90 percent in March.

Twelve cities included in the Case-Shiller 20-city index reported double-digit year-over-year percentage gains for March home prices. While this data strongly supports recovering home prices, analysts cite the need for more jobs, which would enable more consumers to buy homes.

Thursday’s weekly Jobless Claims Report from the Labor Department highlighted ongoing problems with lagging employment as new jobless claims jumped to 354,000. The four-week moving average for new jobless claims increased by 6.75 percent to 347,250 new jobless claims.

Bullish Stock Market Affects Mortgage Interest Rates

Mortgage rates jumped in connection rising stock prices; Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage increased to 3.81 percent plus 0.80 percent in discount points.  The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage increased to 2.98 percent plus 0.70 percent in discount points.

Rising mortgage rates suggest that home buyers may benefit from considering hybrid adjustable rate mortgages; the average rate for a 5/1 hybrid ARM was 2.66 percent with 0.50 percent in discount points.

The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index (Chicago PMI) measures how manufacturing and related businesses perform on a monthly basis.  May’s reading increased to 58.70 and surpassed expectations of a 49.90 reading as well as April’s reading of 49.00. Readings above 50 are considered positive.

Consumer Sentiment rose in May to a reading of 84.50, which exceeded both the expected reading of 83.80 and April’s reading of 83.70. As consumers gain confidence in the economy, they are more likely to buy homes.

Next Week’s News

Construction spending for April is due Monday with a consensus of +1.00 percent as compared to -1.70 percent in March. Rising construction spending could indicate an increase in residential construction, which has been facing obstacles including increasing labor and material costs and a shortage of available land for residential building.

Thursday’s news includes the weekly Jobless Claims report and Freddie Mac’s weekly report of average mortgage rates.

Friday brings the monthly Jobs Report, which consists of the Department of Labor’s Non-farm Payrolls report and the monthly unemployment rate. These reports are significant for gauging national and regional labor markets and for anticipating the Fed’s decision regarding its current quantitative easing policy.

If the Fed ceases or reduces its purchase of Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities (MBS), mortgage rates are likely to rise.

22 04, 2013

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 22, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week April 21 2013Mortgage rates fell for the third consecutive week.

According to Freddie Mac, the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 3.41 percent as compared to last week’s 3.43 percent and 3.90 percent year-over-year.

The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 2.64 percent as compared to last week’s 2.65 percent and 3.13 percent year-over-year.

Falling mortgage rates were attributed to reduced consumer spending.

Last week’s economic news includes the NAHB Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), with a reading of 42 for March.

This is four points below investor expectations and two points below February’s results.

A reading of 50 or above indicates that more of the builders surveyed have a positive outlook.

March results were impacted by builder concerns over tight builder credit, a lack of available lots and increasing construction costs.

Housing Starts Increased In March

More good news for housing arrived Tuesday when the U.S. Department of Commerce issued its monthly Housing Starts report.

Housing starts for March came in higher than anticipated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.04 million, against a consensus of 933,000 and also beat February’s reported 968,000 housing starts.

Housing starts rose by 7 percent over February, and rose 47 percent over March 2012, the highest year-to-year increase since 1992.

The Federal Reserve issued its Beige Book Report which is compiled from reports by the 12 districts of the Federal Reserve.

5 districts reported moderate economic growth, 5 districts reported modest growth, and 2 reported slight economic growth.

Based on the data contained in the Beige Book Report, economists are not expecting the Fed to make changes to its current quantitative easing (QE) program of purchasing $85 billion monthly in bonds and MBS; this may help mortgage rates remain steady; when MBS prices fall, mortgage rates typically rise.

Whats Coming Up Next

The National Association of REALTORS® releases its Existing Home Sales report for March today.

The consensus is for 5.03 million homes sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, and against February’s 4.98 million existing homes sold. 

Tuesday brings more housing news with the FHFA Home Price Index for February; FHFA is the federal agency overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The U.S. Department of Commerce releases its New Home Sales for March on Tuesday.

The consensus is 421,000 new homes sold against February’s reading of 411,000 new homes sold.

Thursday’s Weekly Jobless claims are expected to come in at 351,000 as compared to last week’s 352,000.

Employment is a key factor in terms of consumers buying homes and qualifying for mortgage loans

15 04, 2013

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 15, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates - April 15 2013Mortgage rates saw little change last week amidst mixed economic news.

Treasury auctions held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday saw weak demand; this could have been caused by the FOMC minutes that were released on Wednesday.

The minutes indicated that some FOMC members supported ending the current quantitative easing (QE) program within a few months.

The Fed is currently purchasing $85 billion monthly in bonds and Mortgage Backed Securities.

If the QE program is ended, demands for bonds and MBS will decline, which usually raises mortgage rates.

Employment Numbers Show Promise For Housing Market

Thursday’s jobless claims offered some positive news.

Jobless claims fell to 346,000, which is well below Wall Street’s estimate of 365,000 jobless claims and the prior week’s report of 385,000 jobless claims.

As more people find work, more families become able to buy homes.

Demand for homes will boost the housing market, which is already expanding in many areas.

While higher home prices are good for the economy, higher mortgage rates may be likely to follow.

This potentially presents a “double-edged sword” to home buyers with little financial flexibility.

Slower Retail Sales Largely Due To Autos

Retail Sales, which represent approximately 70 percent of the U.S. economy, moved from February’s level of 1.1 percent to -0.4 percent in March.

Expectations were for 0.0 percent change.

The Retail Sales report exclusive of the volatile automotive sector was nearly identical except for the February’s reading of 1.0 percent.

These reports suggest that while the economy is improving in some areas, it has a way to go before it has truly recovered.

Whats Coming Up Next?

This week, investors will be paying attention to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the closely-related Core CPI, which is nearly identical except for its excludes the more volatile food and energy sectors.

These reports will be released on Tuesday for March, with little change expected for the CPI and no change expected for the Core CPI as compared to February.

The CPI is considered an important indicator of inflation.

Unexpected changes in inflationary growth can cause rapid and volatile responses in the financial markets.

Wednesday brings the Fed’s Beige Book, which presents key economic data for each of the Fed’s 12 regions.

Investors watch the Beige Book for signs of the Fed’s position on economic policy during the upcoming FOMC meeting.

Jobless claims will be released Thursday with the expectation of 350,000 claims filed as compared to last week’s 346,000 jobless claims.  

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