The Magazine for Asian Investors
According to the US Department of Commerce, retail sales increased by only 0.3% in February compared to the previous month. The low increase in retail sales were influenced by a 3.7% decline in online sales. The Commerce Department revised January retail sales to 4.9% from the previously reported 3.8%. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales rose 17.6% in February, driven by an increase in gasoline sales.
The U.S. Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) that the number of mortgage applicants declined last week. This is due to rising mortgage rates. The number of applicants for refinances fell 3% last week and 49% compared to the same period last year. The number of applicants for home equity loans increased only 1% last week and decreased 8% from a year ago. The average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loans rose to 4.27% from 4.09%.
In addition, the U.S. Department of Labor announced today that the import price index increased 1.4% month-over-month in February, following a 1.9% increase in January. On a year-over-year basis, the import price index rose 10.9% in February, following a 10.7% increase in January. The import price index was driven by a rebound in oil and food prices. Core import price index excluding food and energy rose 0.6% in February, following a 1.1% increase in January. On a year-over-year basis, the core import price index rose 6.5% in February. Export price index rose by 3.0% on a monthly basis in February, following an increase of 2.8% in January.