Consumers paid more for food, gas and rent last month, but outside those categories inflation remained tame and mortgage rates moved lower to end the week. The Producer Price Index was up 0.7%, while Core prices, excluding food and energy costs, were up 0.3%. The Consumer Price Index was up 0.5%, the largest monthly gain since June 2009. Core CPI was up 0.1%. Core inflation is creeping up from its lows six months ago, with the annual core inflation recorded at 1.2% in March from 1.1% the prior month, which indicates that the second round of economic stimulus from the central bank will not be extended. Still, the March increase is well below the ten-year average of 1.9%, and US consumers were not discouraged as Retail Sales were up 0.4%, the ninth consecutive monthly increase.
Currently, the 30 Year Fixed is 4.375% (4.504% APR) and the 15 Year Fixed is 3.625% (3.851% APR). This week’s economic data will primarily focus on the housing sector with Leading Economic Indicators, Housing Starts and Building Permits, Existing Home Sales, and the Case/Shiller Home Price Index. Mortgage markets will close early on Thursday and will be closed on Friday in observance of Good Friday.