Retail sales advanced strongly in March. Seasonally adjusted sales were up 1.6 percent compared to February. That's better than the consensus forecast. The seasonal adjustments take into account that March is 10 percent longer than February.
Excluding autos, retail sales were up 0.6 percent in March, which is better than expected. Car sales were up 6.7 percent. In addition to buying vehicles, Americans also bought a lot of building materials and garden supplies. We cut back on electronics and appliances.
To summarize, March brought us a jump in retail sales, but steady prices. I wonder how long that can last. So far this morning, mortgage rates have remained flat as the news on retail sales balances the news on consumer prices. This afternoon brings the Fed's Beige Book, the central bank's anecdotal look at economic conditions across the country. I doubt the Beige Book will say anything startling, but if you're risk-adverse and you're going to close on your home loan within the next week or so, it might be a good idea to lock your rate before the Beige Book is released at 2 p.m. Eastern.