A key inflation measure showed that prices rose at their fastest level in nearly 39 years. The core personal consumption expenditures price index, the Federal Reserve’s primary inflation gauge, rose 5.2% from a year ago. It was the highest level since April 1983. Including food and energy prices, headline PCE was up 6.1%, the strongest gain since February 1982.
A separate report showed that gross domestic product, a sum of all the goods and services produced in the U.S. economy, increased at a 7% annualized rate during the fourth quarter. On the jobs side, continuing claims, which run a week behind the headline number, totaled 1.48 million, a decline of 112,000 from the previous week and good for the lowest total since March 14, 1970. The total of those receiving benefits through all government programs fell by just over 30,000 to 2.03 million. That level has continued to fall as pandemic -associated jobless aid programs have expired.
Sales of new U.S. single-family homes fell slightly more than expected in January, likely as rising mortgage rates and higher prices sidelined some first-time buyers from the market. New home sales fell 4.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 801,000 units last month, according to the Commerce Department. Sales dropped in the Midwest, Northeast and the densely populated South. But they rose in the West. Sales tumbled 19.3% on a year-on-year basis in January. They peaked at a rate of 993,000 units in January 2021, which was the highest since the end of 2006. Mortgage rates are near three-year highs.