Your Economic Update For The Week of January 20th, 2014.

In The News
January 20, 2014
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending January 10 rose 11.9% from the previous week. Purchase volume rose 12%. Refinancing applications increased 11%.

The combined construction of new single-family homes and apartments in December fell 9.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 999,000 units, compared to the November estimate of 1,107,000 units. Single-family starts decreased 7%. Volatile multifamily starts fell 14.9%. Overall housing units were up 18.3% in December when compared to the previous year. Applications for new building permits, seen as an indicator of future activity, were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 986,000 units, 3% below the revised November rate of 1,017,000 units.

The monthly National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo housing market index fell one point in January to 56. An index reading above 50 indicates positive sentiment about the housing market.

Retail sales rose 0.2% to $431.9 billion in December. This follows a revised 0.4% increase in November. Compared to a year ago, December retail sales have increased 4.1%.

Total business sales increased 0.8% to $1,318.2 billion in November, up 4% from a year ago. Total business inventories rose 0.4% to $1,699.9 billion in November, also up 4% from a year ago. The total business inventories/sales ratio in November was 1.29.

The producer price index, which tracks wholesale price inflation, rose 0.4% in December, following a 0.1% decrease in November. On a year-over-year basis, wholesale prices were up 1.2% in December. Core prices — excluding food and fuel — rose 0.3% in December.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending January 11 fell by 2,000 to 326,000. Continuing claims for the week ending January 4 rose by 174,000 to 3.03 million. The less volatile four-week average of claims for unemployment benefits was 335,000.

Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on existing home sales and the index of leading economic indicators on January 23.

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