|With little other economic news, inflation concerns weighed on mortgage rates this week. Despite rising commodity prices, Fed officials appear to be in no rush to tighten monetary policy. Investors, worried about the risk of higher inflation, pushed mortgage rates a little higher.
While the ECB (European Central Bank) and China raised rates this week to fight inflation, US Fed officials continued to downplay the risks. According to the Fed Minutes released this week and in recent statements, the majority of Fed officials maintain the view that higher commodity prices are unlikely to raise future inflation expectations. These officials expect the impact to be “transitory” and “muted”. To support the economic recovery, they believe that the Fed should move slowly in removing monetary stimulus. The more hawkish minority at the Fed is gaining support, however, and several Fed officials have suggested that the Fed may need to tighten monetary policy before the end of the year. In light of the Fed’s debate, investors will be closely watching next week’s important inflation reports.
Even with higher energy prices, consumers continued to spend freely on other items last month. The March sales figures from about two dozen large retail chain stores released on Thursday were stronger than expected. Consumer spending accounts for about 70% of economic activity, so this data was encouraging news for the economy.
Brian Campbell of U.S. Bank
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