In the News
Pending home sales, a forward-looking indicator based on signed contracts, rose 1.5% in March after a revised 1% decrease in February. On a year-over-year basis, pending home sales were 7% higher than March 2012.
The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city housing price index — on a non-seasonally adjusted basis — rose 0.3% in February after a 0.1% increase in January. On a year-over-year basis, when compared with February 2012, prices rose 9.3%, the largest annual gain since May 2006.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending April 26 rose 1.8%. Purchase volume fell 1.4%. Refinancing applications increased 3%.
Manufacturing activity fell to 50.7 in April after a reading of 51.3 in March. A reading above 50 signals expansion. This was the fifth consecutive month of expansion.
Total construction spending fell 1.7% to $856.7 billion in March, following a 1.5% increase in February. Compared to March 2012, construction spending has risen 4.8%.
The trade deficit decreased to $38.8 billion in March from $43.6 billion in February. Exports fell $1.7 billion to $184.3 billion. Imports decreased $6.5 billion to $223.1 billion.
Factory orders fell $19.5 billion, or 4%, in March to a seasonally adjusted $467.3 billion. This follows a 1.9% increase in February. Excluding the volatile transportation sector, orders decreased 2% in March.
Non-manufacturing activity fell to 53.1 in April from 54.4 in March. A reading above 50 signals expansion. It was the 40th straight month of expansion in the services sector.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending April 27 fell by 18,000 to 324,000. Continuing claims for the week ending April 20 rose by 12,000 to 3.02 million. The less volatile four-week average of claims for unemployment benefits was 342,250. The unemployment rate decreased from 7.6% in March to 7.5% in April, the lowest rate since December 2008. Employers added 165,000 jobs in April.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on consumer credit on May 7 and wholesale trade on May 9.