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Registered Investment Adviser Caleb Lawrence

 Disappointing economic data, more trade war rhetoric and rising geo-political tensions sent the major averages into the final hour with small losses.

The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that mortgage activity increased .9% last week as refis fell 2.2% and purchase apps gained 3.4%. The 30-year contract rate for a jumbo loan slipped fractionally to 4.55%.

Retail sales fell for a 3rd month in February slipping .1% and missing expectations of a .4% gain substantially. Retail sales have dropped .3% in the last 3-months establishing a trend that doesn’t speak well of the future given that some 70% of total economic activity comes from consumer spending. Notable declines were seen in gasoline, autos, and furniture.

The Producer Price Index or PPI gained .2% in February pushing the annualized rate to 2.9% on a big jump in intermediate unprocessed goods. Still energy prices remain the primary driver of the various inflation measuring metrics of late. Despite sharply rising supply and growing questions about demand, energy prices have held so far. Should they decrease materially they’ll most likely take inflation with them.

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