Spring is officially here, and the weather isn’t the only thing heating up.
Consumers are paying more for most goods, the Labor Department reported in March. The core Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures consumer inflation excluding volatile food and energy, increased 0.3 percent after a similar gain in January. From February 2015 to 2016, core CPI rose 2.3 percent, the largest gain since May 2012. Clothing prices donned the largest increase since 2009. But rising rent and medical costs continued to bolster this measure. Higher auto prices and other factors also contributed.
That being noted, low prices at the gas pump put the brakes on consumer inflation overall, causing a 0.2 percent decline in February when food and energy prices are factored in. In fact, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the average family is likely saving $1,000 a year on fuel.
Housing Starts Surge In housing news, February Housing Starts were a whopping 30.9 percent above February 2015, meaning more people were breaking ground on new homes. This could be a good sign for many areas that are struggling with limited inventory.
Meanwhile, February Existing Home Sales fell 7.1 percent from January, although sales were up 2.2 percent from February 2015. Conversely, February New Home Sales rose 2 percent from January, but year-over-year sales are down 6.1 percent from February 2015.
Home prices, including distressed sales, continued to rise this past year, up 6.9 percent from January 2015 to January 2016, according to CoreLogic, a leading provider of property information and analytics. Looking ahead, CoreLogic forecasted a 5.5 percent increase from January 2016 to January 2017.
A Look Ahead The Fed continues to monitor the housing market, inflation, jobs, wages and more for signs that economic recovery after the Great Recession is strong and sustaining. Following the March Federal Open Market Committee meeting, the Fed noted that “economic activity has been expanding at a moderate pace despite the global economic and financial developments of recent months.”
If economic reports here at home continue to be strong, home loan rates could begin to creep up. Why? Strong economic news often causes money to flow out of Bonds and into Stocks, as investors try to take advantage of gains. This can cause Mortgage Bonds and home loan rates (which are tied to Mortgage Bonds) to worsen.
However, if economic data is weaker than expected, investors could move their money back into the safety of the Bond market, helping Mortgage Bonds and home loan rates improve. Many factors impact the markets, but whichever way they move, I’ll let you know about it.
For now, home loan rates remain in historically low territory. If you have any questions about rates, home loan products or refinancing, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
This article was taken from my April 2016 issue of YOU Magazine. Click here to view the full newsletter.