Consumer Price Index to be released, HPSI for March jumped, Gas prices level off

April 12, 2021

There are no economic reports today but the calendar is full this week. The closely watched inflation reading Consumer Price Index will be released tomorrow. The week also features housing and manufacturing data along with Retail Sales for March. The Retail Sales number will be closely watched after the $1,400 stimulus checks were released last month. Also, earnings season kicks off this week where expectations are very high for solid numbers.

Fannie Mae recently released its Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) for March revealing that housing sentiment jumped on consumers’ selling and personal finance optimism. The Index rose 5.2 points to 81.7 with four of the six components increasing for the month. The percentage of respondents who say it is a good time to buy a home increased from 48% to 53% while respondents who say it is a good time to sell a home increased from 55% to 61%. “The significant increase in the HPSI in March reflects consumer optimism toward the housing market and larger economy as vaccinations continue to roll out and the spring homebuying season began – perhaps with even more intensity this year, since 2020’s spring homebuying season was limited by virus-related lockdowns,” said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae Senior Vice President and Chief Economist.

After a swift rise since the beginning of the year, gas prices have leveled off the past few weeks as oil prices decline while refinery utilization is on the rise. AAA Motor Club reports that the national average prices for a regular gallon of gasoline was unchanged this week at $2.87 and just slightly higher than the $2.83 seen a month ago. A year ago the price was $1.86. Jeanette McGee, AAA spokesperson. “Cheaper crude oil prices will likely help to keep price fluctuation low this week.”