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Consumer confidence rose to its highest level since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as new cases track well below the summer surge and the economy continues to rebound. The Conference Board reported the index increased from August’s value of 86.3 to 101.8 in September. The index had dropped from a pre-pandemic high of 132.6 in February to as low as 85.7 in April. The 101.8 value shows increased optimism despite a stubborn virus and Capitol Hill’s stalled negotiations over a second stimulus package. The September increase also represents the single largest one-month jump in 17 years.
The U.S Pending Home Sales Index reached a record high of 132.8, representing an 8.8% increase in pending home sales over July. The record high piggybacks on top of 3 consecutive months of positive contract activity. All four regions of the U.S. saw more contract signings. Year-over-year contract signings rose by 24.2%, fueled by mortgage rates hovering at 3%. The historically low interests are also driving home prices up as the median price for an existing single-family home increased 11.7% over August 2019 to $315,000.
Consumer spending continued to increase in August, marking the fourth month in a row. The 1% increase is the smallest since the 12.7% drop in April. The expiration of $600 in federal jobless benefits negatively impacted consumer spending, contributing to an income drop of 2.7%. However, a 1.4% gain in service sector spending – especially food, hospitality, and healthcare helped bolster the 1% rise. Inflation that is tied to consumer spending rose .3% in August. At 1.4% for the last 12 months, inflation is well below the Fed Reserve’s target of 2%.
Tuesday October 6 – Trade Deficit
Thursday October 8 – U.S. Jobless Claims