Daily Market Update 3/15/13

Mortgage rates inched lower Friday despite stronger than expected inflation data.  The January Consumer Price Index (CPI) jumped 0.7%, above the consensus 0.5%, and was 2.0% higher than one year ago.  Core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy components, increased 0.2%, matching forecast.  February Industrial Production rose 0.7%, above the consensus of 0.5%.  Capacity Utilization reached its highest level since March 2008.  Consumer Sentiment fell unexpectedly to 71.8, the lowest reading since December 2011.  Stocks moved lower.  Next week’s big event will be the two day FOMC meeting of the Fed which wraps up on Wednesday.  No rate changes are expected, but investors will be watching closely for clues about the future direction of the current “Quantitative Easing” program in which the Fed is purchasing long-term Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities to hold down interest rates.  No other key economic data will be released today.

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