Credit Sesame’s personal finance weekly news roundup December 2, 2023. Stories, news, politics and events impacting the personal finance sector during the last week.
- Holiday shopping season begins with a so-so Black Friday
- Real estate scams heat up in response to tight market
- VantageScore report shows credit scores are stable but headed for trouble
- Third quarter growth even stronger than first thought
- Slowing inflation trend continued in October 2023
- Inflation on the run in Europe
- Oil producers plan more output cuts
- Pace of home price growth accelerates
- Consumer confidence bounced back in November 2023
- Mortgage rates dip for a fifth consecutive week
1. Holiday shopping season begins with a so-so Black Friday
Retail sales on Black Friday were up by 2.5% from a year ago, according to the Mastercard Spendingpulse report. That’s lower than the 3.2% increase in inflation over the past year. This suggests that after adjusting for higher prices, consumers bought less to start this year’s holiday shopping season. See article at WSAU.com.
2. Real estate scams heat up in response to tight market
The FBI and the Secret Service are among law enforcement agencies reporting a sharp increase in fake property sales. The increase in these scams may be a product of a shortage of properties on the market. High-interest rates have made homeowners with lower-rate mortgages reluctant to sell. Some of these scams include people brazenly trying to sell property they don’t own. Would-be buyers should conduct a thorough title search before closing a real estate transaction and be suspicious of warning signs such as sellers asking to be paid in cash or cryptocurrency. See article at Yahoo.com.
3. VantageScore report shows credit scores are stable but headed for trouble
The VantageScore October 2023 CreditGauge showed that the average credit score held steady at 701 for a fourth consecutive month. However, the report warns that rising delinquency rates could lead to lower credit scores in the months ahead. The report also cautioned that deteriorating credit conditions could affect this year’s holiday sales. The report found that all phases of credit card delinquencies increased over the past year. The average balance across all credit products increased by $2,158 over the past year to $103,000. High balances and payment problems may be weighing on consumers’ appetite for credit. Credit card originations dropped sharply in October from the prior month and a year earlier. See report at VantageScore.com.
4. Third quarter growth even stronger than first thought
The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) issued its second Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth estimate for the 3rd quarter of 2023. This estimate showed that the economy grew faster during the quarter than the BEA initially thought. The new estimate was that GDP grew at an inflation-adjusted annual rate of 5.2% during the quarter, as opposed to a rate of 4.9% in the original estimate. See news release at BEA.gov.
5. Slowing inflation trend continued in October 2023
On the heels of encouraging news about the US economy in the 3rd quarter, the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced that inflation continued to cool off in October. The overall Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index for the past 12 months was up 3.0% through October, down from 3.4% as of September. The core PCE price index, which excludes food and energy, was up by 3.5%, down from 3.7% as of September. The PCE price index is the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation. See news release at BEA.gov.
6. Inflation on the run in Europe
As inflation eases in the United States, it has dropped even more suddenly in Europe. Yearly inflation within the 20 countries participating in the euro currency fell to 2.4% in November, down from 2.9% in October. This drop exceeded experts’ expectations and should help cool inflation pressures globally. See article at Reuters.com.
7. Oil producers plan more output cuts
A group of prominent oil producers reached a preliminary agreement to make further cuts to output in the months ahead. The move is in an attempt to bolster sagging oil prices. Though the announcement somewhat bolstered oil prices, they are still down significantly since peaking in September. The nations agreeing to participate in output cuts represent 40% of world oil production. See article at Reuters.com.
8. Pace of home price growth accelerates
Home prices nationally rose for an eighth consecutive month, and the annual rate of increase accelerated in September. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index was up by 3.9% for the year ending September 30. That’s up from a 2.5% yearly increase through the end of the previous month. Although high-interest rates have dampened demand for housing, a shortage of inventory for sale has kept average prices rising. See news release at SPGlobal.com.
9. Consumer confidence bounced back in November 2023
The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index rose in November after three straight months of declines previously. Consumer opinion of current conditions slipped slightly during the month, but the outlook for the near future rose 7% in November. Despite the increase, the index remains at a level that has traditionally forecast an upcoming recession. See details at Conference-Board.org.
10. Mortgage rates dip for a fifth consecutive week
30-year mortgage rates fell by 0.07% last week to 7.22%. This was the fifth straight week mortgage rates declined, mainly due to optimism that inflation is easing. The latest drop brought mortgage rates to their lowest level since late September. However, they are still 0.80% above where they were when the year began. See rate details at FreddieMac.com.