In the News
Orders for durable goods — items expected to last three or more years — increased 4.6% to $230.7 billion in December. This increase follows a 0.7% increase in November. Excluding volatile transportation-related goods, December orders posted a monthly increase of 1.3%.
Pending home sales, a forward-looking indicator based on signed contracts, fell 4.3% in December. On a year-over-year basis, pending home sales were up 6.9% compared with December 2011.
The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city housing price index — on a non-seasonally adjusted basis — fell 0.1% in November, following a revised 0.2% decrease in October. On a year-over-year basis, prices rose 5.5% compared with November 2011.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending January 25 fell 8.1%. Purchase volume fell 2%. Refinancing applications decreased 10%.
The Commerce Department announced that gross domestic product — the total output of goods and services produced in the U.S. — decreased at an annual rate of 0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2012. This follows a 3.1% pace of growth in the third quarter of 2012.
Manufacturing activity rose to 53.1 in January after a reading of 50.2 in December. A reading above 50 signals expansion.
Total construction spending rose 0.9% to $885 billion in December, following a downwardly revised 0.1% increase in November. Compared to December 2011, construction spending has risen 7.8%.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending January 26 rose by 38,000 to 368,000. Continuing claims for the week ending January 19 rose by 22,000 to 3.197 million. The less volatile four-week average of claims for unemployment benefits was 352,000. The unemployment rate increased to 7.9% in January from 7.8% in December. Employers added 157,000 jobs in January.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on factory orders on February 4 and international trade on February 8.