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Fed Officials Debate Inflation

Comments from Fed officials caused some volatility this week but had little net effect. The economic data caused little reaction. Mortgage rates ended the week nearly unchanged, close to the best levels of the year.

Last week's weak inflation data had Fed officials talking this week. To the surprise of many, inflation has declined during each of the last few months. Fed officials seem divided on how to react. Some consider the recent decline transitory and want to continue monetary tightening. Others question this and want to slow things down. On Monday, New York Fed President Dudley said that he thinks rising wages will push inflation higher and that to slow the current pace of monetary tightening could do harm to the economy. On Tuesday, Chicago Fed President Evans said that the Fed "can afford" to wait "a little bit" to see if inflation moves higher. The debate caused some market volatility.

The existing-home sales data from the National Association of Realtors released on Wednesday revealed that a shortage of inventory continued to be an issue in May. Total inventory of existing homes available for sale was significantly lower than a year ago and was at just a 4.2-month supply. A 6-month supply is considered a nice balance between buyers and sellers. The low supply of inventory and robust buyer demand caused prices to rise and properties to be sold very quickly. The median existing-home price reached a record high in May, and it took just 27 days on average for properties to be sold. This was the shortest duration since tracking began in 2011. 

 


 

Even with a low level of inventory in many markets, existing-home sales in May rose a little from April to the third highest level over the past twelve months. Sales of new homes, which make up roughly 10% of the market, also climbed in May, and the median price of new homes rose to a record high as well.

 

 

 

Week Ahead

Looking ahead, Durable Orders, an important indicator of economic activity, will come out on Monday. Pending Home Sales will be released on Wednesday. The Core PCE price index, the inflation indicator favored by the Fed, will come out on Friday. In addition, there will be Treasury auctions on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. 

 

source: Mortgage Time Newsletter

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