Inflation dominated last week’s economic readings and predictions as it hit a year-over-year growth rate of 9.10 percent in July. Inflation reached its highest year-over-year growth rate since 1981. Gasoline prices eased somewhat, but not enough to provide relief against a backdrop of high housing and food prices. Low and moderate-income consumers were disproportionately impacted as rents rose beyond near-record inflation and home prices remained out of reach for many would-be home buyers.
Inflation Causing Hardship for Moderate-Income Consumers
Consumers faced with rapidly growing expenses turned to credit cards for purchasing food and household items; this trend suggests that as interest rates rise, more households could experience increasing financial stress as paying off consumer debt becomes more difficult.
The Consumer Price Index rose by 1.3 percent in June on a month-to-month basis; analysts expected a month-to-month reading of 1.1 percent inflationary growth based on May’s reading of 1.0 percent growth. The core Consumer Price Index, which excludes volatile food and fuel sectors, rose by 0.70 percent in June and exceeded analysts’ expected reading of 0.50 percent growth and May’s month-to-month reading of 0.60 percent growth.
Year-over-year inflation reached 9.10 percent in June and surpassed analysts’ expectations of 8.80 percent- year-over-year-inflationary growth and May’s year-over-year reading of 8.60 percent growth. Core inflation rose by 5.90 percent year-over-year in June and fell short of analysts’ forecasts of 5.7 percent year-over-year growth. May’s year-over-year reading for inflationary growth was 6.0 percent and could suggest that inflation has peaked.
Mortgage Rates Rise After Fed Raises Key Interest Rate Range
Although the Federal Reserve raised its key interest rate range in an attempt to slow inflation, mortgage rates also rose last week. Freddie Mac reported that rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by 21 basis points to 5.51 percent on average. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 22 basis points higher at 4.67 percent. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was 16 basis points higher at 4.35 percent; discount points averaged 0.80 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.20 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
New jobless claims rose last week with 244,000 first-time claims filed as compared to the previous week’s reading of 235,000 initial jobless claims filed. Fewer ongoing jobless claims were filed last week with 1.33 million continuing claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 1.37 million ongoing jobless claims filed.
Consumer concerns over inflation eased in July with a preliminary reading of 51.1 reported in the University of Michigan’s preliminary consumer confidence index. Any reading over 50 indicates that most consumers surveyed were confident about current economic conditions.
This week’s scheduled economic reporting includes readings on home prices, building permits issued, and housing starts. Data on sales of previously-owned homes will be released along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims.