Consumer inflation rose a tame 0.2% in August, just half of July's 0.4% rise, the Labor Department reported September 15. The improvement reflected a big slowdown in energy costs. From the start of August through September 8, U.S. gasoline prices fell by more than 40 cents to a five-month low of $2.62 a gallon.
The reduction in gasoline prices didn't come in time to help the nation's trade deficit, which hit a record $68 billion for July. The deficit was worse than analysts had expected, and surpassed the old monthly record of $66.6 billion set last October.
Evidence of easing economic growth came in two reports. Output at U.S. factories, mines and utilities fell unexpectedly by 0.1% in August, a Federal Reserve report showed September 15. Retail sales recorded a tiny 0.2% increase in August following a much bigger 1.4% rise in July.
New claims for U.S. jobless aid fell by 5,000 last week to 308,000 for the week ended September 9, the Labor Department said September 14. Wall Street analysts had expected 315,000 claims.
Rates for 30- and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages fell for the seventh time in eight weeks, Freddie Mac reported September 15.
This week look for updates on building permits, housing starts and the Producer Price Index on September 19.
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