Last week’s economic news included readings on consumer spending, core inflation new home sales and regularly scheduled readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.
Consumer Spending Dips in November
Commerce Department reports on consumer spending in November indicated that consumer spending was lower in November with 0.20 percent growth as compared to October’s reading of 0.40 percent growth. November’s reading for core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, was flat as compared to expectations of 0.10 percent growth and October’s reading of 0.10 percent growth.
New Jobless Claims Rise to 6–Month High
New jobless claims jumped to 275,000 last week as compared to an expected reading of 258,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 254,000 new claims. New claims typically rise during the holiday season due to school and other workplace closures.
There was good news as new jobless claims remained below the benchmark of 300,000 new claims for 94 consecutive weeks. This streak of new claims below 300,000 new claims is the longest since 1970. Increasing numbers of “contingent” workers contributed to volatility in employment; The Rand Corporation reported that 10.10 percent of the workforce was contingent workers in 2005; the percentage of contingent workers increased to 15.80 percent of the U.S. workforce in 2015.
Mortgage Rates, New Home Sales Rise
Freddie Mac reported a jump in mortgage rates last week; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 14 basis points higher at 4.30 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 15 basis points higher at 3.52 percent; the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose 13 basis points to 3.32 percent. Analysts said that the 10-year Treasury rate rose 10 basis points in response to the Fed raising its target funds rate.
New home sales gained in November with a seasonally adjusted annualized reading of 582,000 sales as compared to 285,000 expected sales and October’s annual rate of 563,000 sales of new homes. This was the second highest reading for new home sales since early 2008. Builders will be watching mortgage rates and new home sales in the New Year to determine how rising mortgage rates will impact new home sales.
Next week’s scheduled economic news includes Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports, pending home sales and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. U.S. Financial markets will be closed Monday in observance of the Christmas holiday