Economic Update, April 2, 2012
Provided by Marie Richarz, Prospect Mortgage
Pending home sales, a forward-looking indicator based on signed contracts, fell 0.5% in February after a 2% increase in January. On a year-over-year basis, pending home sales are up 9.2%.
Retail sales fell 0.5% for the week ending March 24, according to the ICSC-Goldman Sachs index. On a year-over-year basis, retailers saw sales increase 2.7%.
The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city housing price index — on a non-seasonally adjusted basis — fell 0.8% in January after a 1.1% decrease in December. On a year-over-year basis, prices fell 3.8% compared with January 2011.
Orders for durable goods — items expected to last three or more years — rose $4.5 billion or 2.2% to $211.8 billion in February. This follows a revised 3.6% decrease in January. Excluding volatile transportation-related goods, orders posted a monthly increase of 1.6%.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending March 23 fell 2.7%. Refinancing applications decreased 4.6%. Purchase volume rose 3.3%.
The Commerce Department announced that gross domestic product — the total output of goods and services produced in the U.S. — increased at an annual rate of 3% in the fourth quarter of 2011. This follows a 1.8% pace of growth in the third quarter of 2011. On a year-over-year basis, the economy expanded 1.6%.
The Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for March’s final reading rose to 76.2 from 75.3 in February. On a year-over-year basis, consumer sentiment is up 12.9%.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending March 24 fell by 5,000 to 359,000. Continuing claims for the week ending March 17 fell by 41,000 to 3.34 million.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on construction spending on April 2 and factory orders on April 3.