In the News
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo monthly housing market index rose three points in August to 59, the strongest reading since November 2005. An index reading above 50 indicates positive sentiment about the housing market.
The combined construction of new single-family homes and apartments in July rose 5.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 896,000 units. Single-family starts decreased 2.2%. Volatile multifamily starts rose 26%. Compared to the previous year, housing starts were up 20.9% in July. Applications for new building permits, seen as an indicator of future activity, rose 2.7% to an annual rate of 943,000 units.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending August 9 fell 4.7%. Purchase volume fell 5%. Refinancing applications decreased 4%.
Retail sales rose 0.2% to $424.5 billion in July. This follows a 0.6% increase in June. Compared to July 2012, retail sales have increased 5.4%.
Total business sales increased 0.2% to $1.285 trillion in June, up 4.9% from a year ago. Total business inventories were unchanged in June at $1.655 trillion, up 3.5% from a year ago. The total business inventories/sales ratio in June was 1.29.
Consumer prices rose 0.2% in July, following a 0.5% increase in June. Compared to July 2012, consumer prices have risen 2%. Consumer prices at the core rate — excluding volatile food and energy prices — were up 0.2% in July.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending August 10 fell by 15,000 to 320,000, the lowest level since November 2007. Continuing claims for the week ending August 3 fell by 54,000 to 2.969 million. The less volatile four-week average of claims for unemployment benefits was 332,000.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on existing home sales on August 21 and new home sales on August 23.