Friday’s Commerce Department report on U.S. consumer spending and inflation highlights a relatively quiet week for economic data.
U.S. sales of newly built homes are expected to cool in April. Record-high prices and tight inventories are weighing on purchases despite strong demand and low mortgage rates. Sales of existing homes, the biggest share of the sales market, fell for the third straight month in April. Economists are forecasting that a separate report on prices out the same day, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, will post a double-digit annual increase for the fourth straight month in March.
U.S. jobless claims have hit a series of fresh pandemic lows in recent weeks, suggesting fewer layoffs and rising employment opportunities as vaccine campaigns advance and the economy steadily reopens. Economists are forecasting another decline for the week ended May 22.
U.S. orders for durable goods—products designed to last at least three years—are expected to increase for the 11th time in 12 months in April, underscoring strong consumer appetite for cars, appliances and other factory goods. Rather than demand, supply—of parts and labor—appears to be the biggest factor holding back the manufacturing sector.
U.S. households are expected to extend stimulus-induced spending in April, helping propel economic growth. Consumer spending, a measure of purchases on both goods and services, rose sharply in March as households cashed and spent federal-stimulus checks. While incomes are forecast to drop sharply absent more government aid, pent-up demand and improving economic conditions will likely support outlays, albeit at a slower pace than in March.
U.S. inflation is jumping as supply chains strain under rising demand. One gauge closely tracked by the Federal Reserve, the personal-consumption expenditures price index excluding food and energy, is forecast to post its biggest monthly increase in decades in April. The Fed expects the rise in inflation to be temporary, though policy makers and financial markets are watching closely as the economy enters a phase of growth with little precedent.
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