Last week was full of positive economic surprises, making up for some disappointing data to start the month. This week will be a bit lighter on the economic update front, but there are still a few important releases to know about.
Last week’s news
The week began with Tuesday’s release of the Producer Price Index for May. Producer inflation rose by 0.1 percent during the month. This result lowered the year-over-year inflation rate to 1.8 percent, down from 2.2 percent in April.
On Wednesday, the Consumer Price Index was released, showing very similar results. Consumer prices rose by 0.1 percent in May, leaving year-over-year inflation at 1.8 percent. These two popular measures of inflation are now firmly below the Fed’s stated 2 percent inflation target. This slowdown in May is another reason the Fed is not expected to hike rates this year.
On Friday, May’s industrial production report was released. Production increased by 0.4 percent during the month, which was better than economist expectations for 0.2 percent growth. This positive surprise was primarily driven by increased utilities output; however, manufacturing output also increased during the month.
Also on Friday, the University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey declined slightly in June, as expected. This measure of consumer confidence still sits near 15-year highs. This slight pullback from 100 to 97.8 is worth watching for the time being, but nothing to immediately worry about.
Finally, we ended the week with the release of May’s retail sales, which showed a strong rebound from a weak April showing. Retail sales grew by 0.5 percent in May, and the disappointing 0.2 percent loss in April was revised up to show 0.3 percent growth during the month. This was a very positive result for the economy given the importance of consumer spending on overall growth. With confidence still high and consumers spending, solid economic growth in the second quarter remains likely.
What to look forward to
This week is off to a rocky start with the release of May’s National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index. This gauge of home builder optimism was expected to increase from 66 to 67, which would have been a nine-month high. Instead, the index dropped to 64, due to declines in sentiment in the northeastern and western regions. While this result is disappointing, the index still sits well above the lows seen in December and January, so there is no immediate cause for concern.
On Tuesday, May’s housing starts and building permits data is set to be released. Both measures of new home construction are expected to show mild growth. Despite a slight rebound in April, the supply of homes for sale remains well below late-2018 levels, so a positive surprise here would be welcome.
The Federal Open Market Committee is meeting this week and will be releasing its rate decision on Wednesday. Market participants widely expect the Fed to keep rates steady and are looking ahead to the July and September meetings for potential rate cuts.
We will finish the week with the release of May’s existing home sales data on Friday. Sales are expected to show 2.1 percent growth, following a decline in April. Falling rates have led to a surge in mortgage applications, so growth in housing sales should follow.
That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading!