In the News
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo monthly housing market index rose six points in July to 57, the strongest reading since January 2006. An index reading above 50 indicates positive sentiment about the housing market.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending July 12 fell 2.6%. Purchase volume rose 1%. Refinancing applications decreased 4%.
The combined construction of new single-family homes and apartments in June fell 9.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 836,000 units. Single-family starts decreased 0.8%. Volatile multifamily starts fell 26.2%. Compared to the previous year, housing starts were up 10.4% in June. Applications for new building permits, seen as an indicator of future activity, fell 7.5% to an annual rate of 911,000 units.
Retail sales rose 0.4% to $422.8 billion in June. This follows a 0.5% increase in May. Compared to June 2012, retail sales have increased 5.7%.
Total business sales increased 1.1% to $1.283 trillion in May, up 3.1% from a year ago. Total business inventories rose 0.1% in May to $1.656 trillion, up 3.8% from a year ago. The total business inventories/sales ratio in May was 1.29.
Consumer prices rose 0.5% in June, following a 0.1% increase in May. Compared to June 2012, consumer prices have risen 1.8%. Consumer prices at the core rate — excluding volatile food and energy prices — were up 0.2% in June.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending July 13 fell by 24,000 to 334,000. Continuing claims for the week ending July 6 rose by 91,000 to 3.114 million. The less volatile four-week average of claims for unemployment benefits was 346,000.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on existing home sales on July 22 and new home sales on July 24.