Last week’s economic reporting included readings from the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee and a speech given by Fed Chair Jerome Powell. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.
FOMC Minutes: Fed’s Monetary Policy Stance to Remain “Accommodative”
The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve released minutes of its meeting held March 16 and 17. The meeting minutes indicated split opinions on the U.S. economy’s outlook. Several members expected inflation to rise due to constricted supply chains and high demand for goods and services. This scenario resembles trends in residential real estate where supplies of available homes are far lower than buyer demand. Other FOMC members expected continued downward pressure on inflation. Members expected inflation to rise to 2.40 percent in 2022 but expected the inflation rate to ease to 2.10 percent by 2023.
The Federal Reserve has a dual legal mandate to achieve an inflation rate of 2.00 percent and maximum employment. While inflation is expected to exceed 2.00 percent in 2022 and beyond, unemployment remains above pre-pandemic levels. FOMC members did not raise the Fed’s key interest rate range from 0.00 to 0.25 percent.
In related news, Fed Chair Jerome Powell spoke at a webinar hosted by the International Monetary Fund. He emphasized the potential threat of COVID to the U.S. and global economy and encouraged everyone to get vaccinate and said, “Until the world is vaccinated, we’re all going to be at risk of new mutations and we won’t be able to resume activity all around the world.”
Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Show Mixed Readings
Fixed mortgage rates were lower last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell by five basis points to 3.13 percent; the average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages fell by three basis points to 2.42 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 2.92 percent and rose by eight basis points. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and 0.60 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. Discount points averaged 0.10 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
Initial jobless claims rose to 744,000 claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 728,000 first-time jobless claims filed. Analysts expected 694,000 new claims for last week. Continuing jobless claims were lower last week with 3.73 million ongoing claims filed. There were 3.75 million continuing jobless claims in the prior week.
This week’s economic reporting includes readings from the National Association of Home Builders, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued, and inflation. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.