In the News
Retail sales rose 0.1% to $419 billion in April. This follows a 0.5% decrease in March. Compared to April 2012, retail sales have increased 3.7%.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending May 10 fell 7.3%. Refinancing applications decreased 8%. Purchase volume fell 4%.
The producer price index, which tracks wholesale price inflation, fell 0.7% in April, following a 0.6% decrease in March. On a year-over-year basis, wholesale prices were up 0.6% in April. Core prices — excluding food and fuel — rose 0.1% in April.
Industrial production at the nation’s factories, mines and utilities fell 0.5% in April after a 0.3% increase in March. Compared to April 2012, industrial production has increased 1.9%. Capacity utilization fell to 77.8% in April from 78.3% in March.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo monthly housing market index rose three points in May to 44. An index reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market.
Consumer prices fell 0.4% in April, following a 0.2% decrease in March. Compared to April 2012, consumer prices have risen 1.1%. Consumer prices at the core rate — excluding volatile food and energy prices — were up 0.1% in April.
The combined construction of new single-family homes and apartments in April fell 16.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 853,000 units. Single-family starts decreased 2.1%. Volatile multifamily starts fell 38.9%. Compared to the previous year, housing starts were up 13.1% in April. Applications for new building permits, seen as an indicator of future activity, rose 14.3% to an annual rate of 1,017,000 units.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending May 11 rose by 32,000 to 360,000. Continuing claims for the week ending May 4 fell by 4,000 to 3.009 million. The less volatile four-week average of claims for unemployment benefits was 339,250.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on existing home sales on May 22 and new home sales on May 23.