WASHINGTON (7/17/13)--A sharp increase in gasoline prices has led to U.S. consumer prices in June recording their steepest rise in five months.
That increase is a potential sign that inflation is stabilizing while the Federal Reserve is considering scaling down quantitative-easing policies related to buying bond assets (The Wall Street Journal July 16).
The seasonally adjusted 6.3% rise in June gasoline prices helped spark a 0.5% seasonally adjusted gain in the consumer price index, the Labor Department said Tuesday.
Prices have mostly leveled off since last fall, after building early in the economic recovery, the Journal said.
Moderating inflation is a manifestation of modest U.S. consumer demand for goods and services and a letup of energy prices, said the Journal.
The Fed is closely watching inflation gauges as it contemplates scaling back its bond-buying program. Weak inflationary pressures could prompt some officials to ask for a delay in the cutting back of bond buying until December or later, the Journal said. The Fed also keeps an eye on the unemployment rate as the central bank considers its monetary policy.
Consumer prices are up 1.8% from a year earlier--nearly matching the Fed's 2% target, the Journal added.
WASHINGTON (7/17/13)--U.S. homebuilder confidence in July rose to its highest level since January 2006 because home-building companies became more positive about their sales prospects, said the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
The NAHB/Wells Fargo index of builder sentiment increased six points--to 57--this month, trumping consensus expectations of a slight decline, NAHB reported Tuesday (Bloomberg.com and Moody's Economy.com July 16). Readings above 50 indicate more respondents said conditions were good rather than bad.
A job market that is strengthening, limited inventories and mortgage rates that still hover near historic lows are helping builders while the housing market is adding to economic growth this year, Bloomberg said.