Economic Update – April 15, 2013
Provided Courtesy of Marie Richarz, Prospect Mortgage
Retail sales fell 0.4% to $418.3 billion in March. This follows a 1% increase in February. Compared to March 2012, retail sales have increased 2.8%.
Wholesalers decreased their inventories 0.3% to $501.4 billion in February. Sales at the wholesale level rose 1.7% to $422.5 billion in February. On a year-over-year basis, sales were 3.7% higher than February 2012.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending April 5 rose 4.5%. Purchase volume fell 1%. Refinancing applications increased 6%.
Import prices fell 0.5% in March, following a 0.6% increase in February. On a year-over-year basis, import prices were down 2.7% in March. Export prices fell 0.4% in March, following a 0.7% increase in February. Compared to a year ago, export prices were up 0.3% in March.
The producer price index, which tracks wholesale price inflation, fell 0.6% in March, following a 0.2% decrease in February. On a year-over-year basis, wholesale prices were up 1.1% in March. Core prices — excluding food and fuel — rose 0.2% in March.
Total business inventories rose 0.1% in February to $1.642 trillion, up 4.9% from a year ago. Total business sales increased 1.2% to $1.268 trillion in February, up 3.7% from a year ago. The total business inventories/sales ratio in February was 1.28.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending April 6 fell by 42,000 to 346,000. Continuing claims for the week ending March 30 fell by 12,000 to 3.08 million. The less volatile four-week average of claims for unemployment benefits was 358,000.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on the housing market index on April 15, housing starts on April 16 and the leading economic indicators on April 18.