Last week, consumers were treated to several indicators on inflation that not only paint a picture of the economy’s health but also give the Fed more information to work with as it continues to aim for a soft landing.
August Sees a Slight Upward Trend in Inflation
This week, the personal consumption expenditures price index, which excludes more volatile commodities like food and energy, increased 0.1 percent for the month. This is lower than the expected value of 0.2 percent, which indicates that the rising interest rates are starting to have an impact on the economy as the Fed continues to work to bring down inflation.
When compared to the previous 12 months, the price index was up 3.9 percent. This matched expectations and shows that inflation could finally be turning a corner. In addition, consumer spending rose 0.4 percent in August, which is down sharply from 0.9 percent in July. This is another indicator that higher interest rates are having an impact on consumers, who are finally pulling back on their spending.
As the month continues to progress, a lot of people will wait and see how the Fed’s decision to hold interest rates steady will impact the economy. Those looking for houses will probably be excited that interest rates were held steady, but it will be interesting to see how this decision impacts the fight against inflation.
Mortgage Rates Continue to Rise
This week, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate sits at around 7.59 percent on average, which remains one of the highest rates in decades. In August, the average rate was 7.18 percent, indicating that rates have gone up sharply. This is also up slightly from the previous week, where the average 30-year fixed rate was 7.51 percent.
In addition, 15-year fixed mortgage rates have gone up as well, with the national average sitting at around 6.82 percent. This is up from last week, when the average 15-year fixed was 6.51 percent. This is also up slightly from August, where the rates hovered around 5.84 percent.
Because the Federal Reserve decided to hold interest rates study, many home buyers are hoping that mortgage rates will stabilize for a couple of months. It remains to be seen if that will happen.
Consumer Sentiment Might Be Stabilizing
The consumer sentiment report from the University of Michigan is stabilizing, with numbers for September coming in at around 68.1. While this is a slight dip from August’s average numbers, the numbers for September are starting to rise.
Consumers might be starting to relax a little bit because inflationary numbers are starting to come down. For consumer sentiment to rise further, mortgage rates might have to come down without contributing to a spike in inflation or home prices.
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.
Looking To Next Week
Next week, the unemployment data is going to be released, as initial jobless numbers are going to come in. This is a key indicator because rising interest rates generally lead to more layoffs, which could jeopardize the Fed’s goal of a soft landing.