New home sales fell 2.1% in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 464,000 units. October’s initial reading of 444,000 units was revised to 474,000 units, which was the highest rate since July 2008. On a year-over-year basis, new home sales were 16.6% higher than November 2012. At the current sales pace, there is a 4.3-month supply of new homes on the market.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending December 20 fell 6.3% from December 13. Purchase volume fell 4%. Refinancing applications decreased 8%.
Industrial production at the nation’s factories, mines and utilities surpassed its pre-recession peak of December 2007, rising 1.1% in November after a 0.1% increase in October. Compared to November 2012, industrial production has increased 3.2%. Capacity utilization rose to 79% in November from 78.2% in October.
The Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for December’s final reading rose to 82.5 from November’s final reading of 75.1. It was the best reading since July. The current conditions component jumped from 88 to 98.6. The expectations component rose from 66.8 to 72.1.
The index of leading economic indicators — designed to forecast economic activity in the next three to six months — rose 0.8% in November, following a 0.1% increase in October.
Orders for durable goods — items expected to last three or more years — increased $8.2 billion, or 3.5%, to $241.6 billion in November. This follows a 0.7% decrease in October. Excluding volatile transportation-related goods, November orders posted a monthly increase of 1.2%.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending December 21 fell by 42,000 to 338,000. Continuing claims for the week ending December 14 rose by 46,000 to 2.923 million. The less volatile four-week average of claims for unemployment benefits was 348,000.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on pending home sales on December 30, the housing price index on December 31 and construction spending on January 2.