Interest Rate Roundup

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wet, wild, and wooly day -- and I'm not even talking about the tropical storm!

Ah, hurricane season in South Florida. Nothing like it. Having the power go out at 3:30 in the morning. The dog barking at the thunder. The rain falling sideways. The tornado watches and warnings. In other words, it's been a wet, wild and wooly day thanks to Tropical Storm Fay. It isn't shaping up to be a very good day for the markets, either. Credit concerns continue to percolate, and the latest news on the inflation and housing fronts didn't help either.

Take the Producer Price Index. The PPI surged 1.2% in July, twice as much as economists polled by Bloomberg were expecting. The "core" rate, which excludes food and energy, shot up 0.7%. The headline PPI climbed 9.8% from a year earlier, the largest rise in 27 years. The core PPI is up 3.5% YOY, a rate of increase we haven't seen since 1991.

As for housing starts, they dropped 11% on the month to an annual rate of 965,000. That's the lowest since March 1991, but slightly higher than the consensus forecast for a reading of 960,000. Single family only starts fell 2.9%. Building permits dropped more than expected -- down 17.7% to an annual rate of 937,000. Economists were expecting a number of around 959,000. Single-family only permit issuance was down 5.2%.


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