· August sales of merchant wholesalers were up 0.8% from the revised July level and were up 9.2% from the August 2017 level, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Total inventories of merchant wholesalers were up 1.0% from the previous month and were up 5.3% from the August 2017 level. The August inventories/sales ratio was 1.26, compared with 1.30 a year ago.
· Import prices increased 0.5% in September, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, following a 0.4% decrease in the previous month. Prices for imports increased 3.5% from September 2017. The price index for exports held steady in September, after decreasing 0.2% in the previous month. Prices for exports advanced 2.7% over the past year.
· The producer price index for total final demand increased 0.2% in September, following a 0.1% decrease in the previous month. The index for final demand less foods, energy and trade increased 0.4%, following a 0.1% increase in the previous month. The producer price index for final demand increased 2.6% from September 2017 to September 2018, while the index for final demand less foods, energy and trade increased 2.9%.
· The consumer price index increased 0.1% in September, following a 0.2% increase in the previous month. The core index increased 0.1%, the same increase as in the previous month. The consumer price index increased 2.3% for the 12-month period ending in September, while the core index rose 2.2%.
· Real average hourly earnings for all employees increased 0.3% from August to September. This result stems from 0.3% increase in average hourly earnings, being offset by a 0.1% increase in the consumer price index for all urban consumers.
· The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance was 214 thousand in the week ending October 6, an increase of 7 thousand from the previous week. The 4-week moving average was 209.5 thousand, an increase of 2.5 thousand from the previous week’s average.
· The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates have risen to their highest level in seven years. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 4.90% for the week ending October 11, up from last week when it averaged 4.71%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 3.91%. The 15-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 4.29%, up from last week when it averaged 4.15. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 3.21%.
· Mortgage applications decreased 1.7% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending October 5th.
· The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment, preliminary, for October decreased to 99.0, from 100.1 in September. The Index was 100.7 in October 2017. The Current Conditions Index decreased to 114.4, from 115.2, while the Index of Consumer Expectations decreased to 89.1, from 90.5.