Mortgage rates stayed low again this week, boosting mortgage activity, especially refinance applications.  Small business optimism improved.  The consumer price index increased.  Weekly jobless claims continue to come in at historic lows.  Retail sales climbed.  Home builder sentiment improved.  Housing starts declined, but building permits jumped.   


  • The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) small-business optimism index improved to a level of 104.7 in July.  From the survey, small business owners have plans for growth, they are just struggling to find qualified workers to fill open roles.

  • The consumer price index increased 0.3% in July, and 1.8% from July of last year.  Price increases were driven by higher gas prices and rising rents.  Excluding food and energy costs, the index is still up 0.3% month-over-month and an even higher 2.2% year-over-year. 

  • Lower rates spurred mortgage momentum for the week ending 8/9.  New purchase applications increased 2.0% and refinance applications climbed 37.0% for a composite increase of 21.7%. 

  • For the week ending 8/10, initial jobless claims rose to a level of 220,000.  Continuing claims also increased to a level of 1.73 million. 

  • In July, retail sales jumped 0.7% month-over-month.  Internet retailers, department stores, restaurants, and electronic outlets all saw sharp increases.  Excluding autos, sales are up 1.0% month-over-month and excluding gas and autos sales are up 0.9% month-over-month.

  • In August, the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index improved to a level of 66.  Current sales conditions jumped to a level of 73 and buyer foot traffic also increased to a level of 50.  Sales expectations for the next six months, however, dropped one point to a level of 70. 

  • Housing starts dropped again in July down 4.0% month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.191 million.  Building permits climbed 8.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.336 million.  While builders acknowledge strong demand for homes, construction costs and lack of buildable lots continue to hamper activity.