The week began with an easing of geopolitical tensions only to see them increased on Friday with accusations of Russian artillery firing into eastern Ukraine. Stocks rose for the week on generally positive economic news. Janet Yellen’s comments from Jackson Hole indicated that slack remains in the labor market and while things are improving the Federal Reserve would not be quick to raise interest rates. Interest rates rose modestly for the week and commodities fell. Particular economic news included:
- The National Association of Homebuilders reported that homebuilder confidence for single-family homes rose to 55 more than the forecast of 53.
- The National Association of Realtors reported that existing home sales rose 2.4% in July from June to their highest level since last September.
- The Labor Department reported that consumer prices rose 0.1% in July. Prices rose the same excluding volatile food and energy prices. Over the past twelve months consumer prices rose 2.0%. Excluding food and energy consumer prices rose 1.9% over the past year.
- The Commerce Department reported that Housing Starts rose nearly 16% in July after a sharp drop in June. Housing starts were up 22% from the prior year.
- The Labor Department reported that First Time Claims for unemployment fell in the previous week by 14,000 to 298,000 better than forecast. The four week moving average rose to 300,750.