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Economic calendar, week of May 17-21

By Holden Lewis ·
Monday, May 17, 2010
Posted: 1 pm ET

For mortgages, the biggest items on this week's economic calendar happen Tuesday and Wednesday. Both days bring measurements of inflation. Unexpectedly high inflation could cause mortgage rates to rise.

Tuesday morning the Labor Department releases the April Producer Price Index, an indication of wholesale prices.'s economic panel guesses that the report will say core PPI (wholesale prices excluding food and fuel) went up 0.1 percent in April, same as the increase in March. Wholesale price increases aren't necessarily passed on to consumers (at least, not immediately), so PPI gets some attention from the mortgage markets, but it's not as influential as the report on consumer prices.

Also on Tuesday morning, the Commerce Department comes out with its report on April housing starts and permits.'s forecasters say housing starts were at an annual pace of 655,000 and permits were at an annual pace of 680,000. I'd bet the under on both.

On Wednesday, we get the Consumer Price Index for April.'s consensus has the core CPI up 0.1 percent, up from unchanged in March. If CPI is substantially higher than that -- a 0.3 percent increase or more -- then one would expect mortgage rates to rise in reaction. I doubt that will happen. But if you're averse to risks, consider locking before Wednesday morning.

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