Weekly Economic Review: July Retail Sales Data Stronger than Expected

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/16/15 10:17 AM

Topics: Economy

An unexpected move in China helped mortgage rates drop early in the week, but stronger-than-expected retail sales data, which accounts for about two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, caused rates to end the week slightly higher.


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Upward revisions underscored a solid retail sales report for July. While retail sales increased 0.6 percent in July, June's reading was revised to unchanged from an initial report of a 0.3 percent decline.

Job openings contracted in June to 5.249 million from 5.357 million in May. The decline is attributed to the increased hiring rate, though layoffs were also up slightly.

Last week in the economy:

  • Mortgage rates (the national average) increased 0.02% (2 basis points).
  • The S&P 500 began the week at 2,078 and ended at 2,092, a 0.69% increase.
  • Purchase applications fell 4% the week of August 7 but still remain higher than a year ago, up 20 percent. Refinance applications increased 3%, at their highest level since May.
  • Job openings decreased from 5.357 in May to 5.249 million for June, likely because of the increased hiring rate. Layoffs were also up a tenth of a percent in June.
  • Initial Jobless Claims continue to remain near historically low levels, at 274,000. The 4-week average is down 1,75, nearly 15,000 below the month-ago comparison.
  • The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index was solid but has significantly moved away from 2015 highs.
  • Consumer Sentiment is little changed so far in August, reading at 92.9. Sectors of the reading hint at steady strength for consumer spending this month.

What's on the economic calendar for the week of August 17, 2015:

Monday: Housing Market Index
Tuesday: Housing Starts
Wednesday: Consumer Price Index and FOMC Minutes
Thursday: Jobless Claims and Existing Home Sales
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