CD Rate Trends This Week: May 4

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As the U.S. consumer goes, so goes bank certificate of deposit rates. That very well could be the case, and it also could be very good news for investors looking for more bang for their buck in the sluggish CD market.

The evidence comes from the U.S. Commerce Department, which reported that U.S. consumer spending hit a five-month high (at 0.6%). The Commerce Department also reports that average incomes rose for workers in March — that’s the first gain for incomes in 2010. Equally telling, the average U.S. savings rate fell to 2.7%, signaling that consumers are dipping into savings to spend money — a sign that they are growing increasingly confident about the U.S. economy.

The hope is that history repeats itself, and consumer spending lifts the U.S. out of its three-year-long ditch. When consumers spend, economists point out, employers hire more staff to meet heightened demand for their goods and services.

Economists routinely peg household spending as comprising 70% of the U.S. economy. “Consumers are resilient and they’re going to do what they’ve continued to do over many business cycles,” Ward McCarthy, chief financial economist at New York City-based Jefferies & Co. told Bloomberg News yesterday. “As soon as they have the means, they will spend it. Consumer spending will support economic activity.”

With consumer spending on the rise, the Federal Reserve will no doubt keep a sharp eye on potentially rising inflation (as spending rises, the prices of goods and services rise, too). There’s a school of thought out there in economic papers and on blogs that if the inflation rate rose to 2.5%, then the Federal Reserve would feel compelled to step in and hike interest rates.

Another factor impacting bank CD rates in a positive way is the stock market. Yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 143 points, its biggest gain since February. Now, one day does not a tsunami make, but there seems to be a general consensus that the economy is improving, which will add further fuel to a rising stock market, and lead return-hungry bank deposit investors to stocks, and cause banks to lift CD rates to stay competitive.

So, while we've yet to see that significant upward spike in bank CD rates, we have seen the steady downward decline in rates slow to a halt. The past few weeks, CD rates have stabilized and rates should creep northward again, especially as the economic news stays positive. A good unemployment number from the U.S. Labor Department this week, for example, could really fuel an uptick in interest rates.

For the past seven days or so, bank CD rates remained quiet. Here’s a quick snapshot, as measured by the BankingMyWay Weekly CD Rate Tracker:

Description          This Week     Last Week

60-Month CD            2.12%          2.116%

48-Month CD            1.814%        1.806%

24-Month CD            1.233%        1.234%

12-Month CD            0.772%        0.774%

Six-Month CD            0.513%        0.515%

Three-Month CD        0.329%        0.329%

Always, keep a close eye on CD rates with the BankingMyWay CD Rate Search. It’s the most thorough review of bank CD rates in the market.

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.

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