In the News
The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city housing price index — on a non-seasonally adjusted basis — rose 0.1% in January after a 0.2% increase in December. On a year-over-year basis, prices rose 8.1% compared with January 2012, the largest annual gain since the summer of 2006.
Orders for durable goods — items expected to last three or more years — increased $12.4 billion, or 5.7%, to $232.1 billion in February. This follows a 3.8% decrease in January. Excluding volatile transportation-related goods, February orders posted a monthly decrease of 0.5%.
New home sales fell 4.6% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 411,000 units from a rate of 431,000 units in January. On a year-over-year basis, new home sales were 12.3% higher than February 2012. At the current sales pace, there is a 4.4-month supply of new homes on the market.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending March 22 rose 7.7%. Purchase volume rose 7%. Refinancing applications increased 8%.
Pending home sales, a forward-looking indicator based on signed contracts, fell 0.4% in February after a revised 3.8% increase in January. On a year-over-year basis, pending home sales were 8.4% higher than February 2012.
The Commerce Department announced that gross domestic product — the total output of goods and services produced in the U.S. — increased at an annual rate of 0.4% in the fourth quarter of 2012. This follows a 3.1% pace of growth in the third quarter of 2012.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending March 23 rose by 16,000 to 357,000. Continuing claims for the week ending March 16 fell by 27,000 to 3.05 million. The less volatile four-week average of claims for unemployment benefits was 343,000.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on construction spending on April 1, factory orders on April 2 and the employment situation on April 5.