Economic Update – January 21, 2013
Provided courtesy of Marie Richarz, Prospect Mortgage
The combined construction of new single-family homes and apartments in December rose 12.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 954,000 units. Single-family starts increased 8.1%. Volatile multifamily starts rose 20.3%. Compared to the previous year, housing starts were up 36.9% in December. Applications for new building permits, seen as an indicator of future activity, rose 0.3% to an annual rate of 903,000 units.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending January 11 rose 15.2%. Purchase volume rose 13%. Refinancing applications increased 15%.
The producer price index, which tracks wholesale price inflation, fell 0.2% in December, following a 0.8% decrease in November. On a year-over-year basis, wholesale prices were up 1.3% in December.
Retail sales rose 0.5% to $415.7 billion in December. This follows a 0.4% increase in November. Compared to December 2011, retail sales have increased 4.7%.
Consumer prices were unchanged in December, following a 0.3% decrease in November. Compared to December 2011, consumer prices have risen 1.7%.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo monthly housing market index remained unchanged in January at 47, holding at the highest level since April 2006. An index reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending January 12 fell by 37,000 to 335,000, the lowest level since January 2008. Continuing claims for the week ending January 5 rose by 87,000 to 3.214 million. The less volatile four-week average of claims for unemployment benefits was 359,250.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on existing home sales on January 22 and new home sales on January 25.