Last week’s economic reporting included readings on inflation, retail sales, and the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Fed Chair Jerome Powell held his scheduled post-meeting press conference and weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.
Federal Reserve Raises Target Interest Rate Range
The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee announced its decision to raise the Fed’s target interest rate range to 4.25 to 4.50 percent from its previous range of 3.75 to 4.00 percent.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell said in remarks made during his scheduled press conference, “We’re going into next year with higher inflation than we thought.” Seven Fed officials predicted rising interest rates with the Fed’s interest rate range potentially reaching 5.75 percent. Analysts said that the Fed’s position of controlling inflation at any cost could result in a recession. Chair Powell said it was impossible to predict if a recession would occur and how deep it might go and how long it could last. He repeated the Fed’s commitment to controlling high inflation.
Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Fall
Freddie Mac reported lower fixed mortgage rates last week as the average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped by two basis points to 6.31 percent. The average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped by 13 basis points to 5.54 percent.
Initial jobless claims fell to 211,000 first-time claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 231,000 new jobless claims filed. Continuing jobless claims were reported as unchanged from the prior week with 167,000 ongoing unemployment claims filed.
The Commerce Department reported lower retail sales in November than in October. Retail sales decreased by -0.6 percent in November, which surpassed analysts’ estimates of -0.3 percent. Lower retail sales could suggest an impending recession as consumers hold back on paying rapidly rising prices for non-essential goods and services.
This week’s scheduled economic reporting includes readings from the National Association of Home Builders on U.S. housing markets and Commerce Department data on building permits issued and housing starts. Reports on sales of new and previously-owned homes and weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.