Economic update for the week ending September 16, 2017

Stock market indexes hit record highs – Markets closed the week at record highs as news that an outline of a tax reform plan would be released later this month. Recent compromise on other issues had investors feeling that tax cuts or tax reform could improve prospects for growth in the coming years. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the week at 22,268.34, up from 21,797.79 last week. It’s up 12.7% year-to-date. The S&P 500 closed the week at 2,500.23, up from its close last week of 2,461.43. The S&P is up 11.7% YTD. The NASDAQ closed the week at 6,448.37, up from last week’s close of 6,360.19. It’s up 19.8% year-to-date. 

Bond yields higher this week – The 10-year Treasury bond closed the week at 2.20%, up from 2.06% last week. The 30-year treasury yield ended the week at 2.77%, up from 2.67% last week. Mortgage rates follow treasury bond yields so we watch bond yields carefully.

Mortgage Rates unchanged last week – but higher by week’s end – The September 14, 2017 Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey reported that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate average was 3.78%, unchanged from 3.78% last week. The 15-year fixed was 3.08%, unchanged from 3.08% last week. The 5-year ARM was 3.13%, down slightly from 3.15% last week. Rates rise at the end of the week and are now slightly higher. 

Consumer Prices rise in August – The Labor Department reported that its Consumer Price Index rose 0.4 percent in August after edging up just 0.1 percent in July. August’s gain was the largest in seven months and lifted the year-on-year increase in the CPI to 1.9 percent from 1.7 percent in July. Economists had forecast the CPI rising 0.3 percent in August and climbing 1.8 percent year-on-year. Gasoline prices surged 6.8% for consumers as refineries shut down due to hurricanes. This should just be a temporary spike and added to the CPI increase. The Core CPI, which strips out volatile food and energy, increased 0.2% in August. Year-over-year Core CPI has increased 1.7%. Inflation, while a little higher in August, is still below the Fed’s target level. 

Have a great weekend!