3/12: MetroIntelligence Economic Update by P. DUFFY

Atlanta Fed: Year-ahead inflation expectations rise to 1.9 percent, sales decline significantly

According to the Atlanta Fed’s monthly survey of businesses in their district for March, sales levels “compared to normal” declined significantly over the month. Profit margins also declined, but only slightly. Year-over-year unit cost growth went virtually unchanged at 1.6 percent, on average. Firms’ year-ahead inflation expectations increased to 1.9 percent, on average, up from 1.7 percent the previous month.

https://www.frbatlanta.org/research/inflationproject/bie.aspx

CPI up 0.1 percent in February and 2.3 percent year-on-year as food prices rise

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) rose 0.1 percent in February and 2.3 percent year-on-year. The food index increased 0.4 percent over the month, with the food at home index rising 0.5 percent, its largest monthly increase since May 2014. The index for energy fell 2.0 percent in February, with all of its major component indexes declining. The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.2 percent in February, and was up 2.4 percent year-on-year.

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm

Mortgage applications surge 55.4 percent as rates dip to historic lows

The Market Composite Index increased 55.4 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier to the highest level since April 2009, with purchase loans rising 6 percent (up 12 percent year-on-year) and refinance activity rising 79 percent (up 479 percent year-on-year). The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to the lowest level since December 2012, equaling the lowest level in survey history at 3.47 percent.

https://www.mba.org/2020-press-releases/march/mortgage-applications-increase-in-latest-mba-weekly-survey-mba-doubles-2020-refinance-originations-forecast