Last week’s economic news included remarks given by Federal Reserve Board Governor Lael Brainard and the release of the minutes of the most recent meeting of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.
Federal Reserve Leaders Prepared to Address Inflation
Lael Brainard, a Governor of the Federal Reserve Board, addressed the central bank’s concerns over rapidly rising inflation in her remarks made at a financial conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “Currently, inflation is much too high and is subject to upside risks. It is of paramount importance to get inflation down.” Ms. Brainard concluded “The Fed is prepared to take further action if inflation indicators and expectations indicate that such action is warranted.”
Ms. Brainard described the Fed’s strategy for controlling inflation as a series of interest rate increases and rapid reductions to the Fed’s balance sheet that may occur as soon as the Federal Open Market Committee meets in May.
Federal Open Market Committee Meeting Minutes Indicate Plan for Slowing Inflation
Minutes of the March meeting of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee outlined the Fed’s plans for controlling runaway inflation. The plan is not set in stone yet, but “many” FOMC members were on board with the proposals for reducing the Fed’s portfolio by $95 billion a month after three months and raising the Fed’s key interest rate by 0.25 percent during future FOMC meetings. Committee members originally planned to raise the Fed’s interest rate by 0.50 percent at each meeting but reduced proposed rate hikes to 0.25 percent due to the potential impact of the war in Ukraine.
Mortgage Rates Rise, Jobless Claims Data Mixed
Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week as the average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by five basis points to 4.72 percent; the average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by eight basis points to 3.91 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages rose by six basis points and averaged 3.56 percent. Discount points held steady and averaged 0.80 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages.
Fewer new jobless claims were filed last week than in the prior week with 166.000 new claims filed as compared to 171,000 initial claims filed in the previous week. Continuing jobless claims inched up with 1.52 million ongoing jobless claims filed as compared to the previous week’s reading of 1.51 million continuing claims filed.
This week’s scheduled economic news includes multiple readings on monthly and year-over-year inflation and the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be published.