In the News
Total construction spending rose 1.2% to $885.1 billion in February, following a 2.1% decrease in January. Compared to February 2012, construction spending has risen 7.9%.
Retail sales rose 4.7% for the week ending March 30, according to the ICSC-Goldman Sachs index. On a year-over-year basis, retailers saw sales increase 1.9%.
Manufacturing activity fell to 51.3 in March after a reading of 54.2 in February. A reading above 50 signals expansion. This was the fourth consecutive month of expansion.
Factory orders rose $14.5 billion, or 3%, in February to a seasonally adjusted $492 billion. This follows a 1% decrease in January. Excluding the volatile transportation sector, orders increased 0.3% in February.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending March 29 fell 4%. Purchase volume rose 1%. Refinancing applications decreased 6%.
Non-manufacturing activity fell to 54.4 in March from 56 in February. A reading above 50 signals expansion. It was the 39th straight month of expansion in the services sector.
The trade deficit decreased to $43 billion in February from $44.5 billion in January. Exports rose $1.6 billion to $186 billion. Imports increased $0.1 billion to $228.9 billion.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending March 30 rose by 28,000 to 385,000. Continuing claims for the week ending March 23 fell by 8,000 to 3.06 million. The less volatile four-week average of claims for unemployment benefits was 354,250. The unemployment rate decreased to 7.6% in March from 7.7% in February. Employers added 88,000 jobs in March.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on wholesale trade on April 9 and retail sales on April 12.