Economic Update, January 23, 2012
Provided courtesy of Marie Richarz, Prospect Mortgage
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending January 13 rose 23.1%. Refinancing applications increased 26.4%. Purchase volume rose 10.3%.
The producer price index, which tracks wholesale price inflation, fell 0.1% in December after increasing 0.3% in November. For the year, wholesale prices are up 4.8%. Core prices — which exclude food and fuel — rose 0.3% in December.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo monthly housing market index rose four points in January to 25 from a reading of 21 in December. It was the highest level since June 2007. An index reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market.
The combined construction of new single-family homes and apartments in December fell 4.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 657,000 units. Single-family starts increased 4.4%. Multifamily starts fell 20.4%. Applications for new building permits, seen as an indicator of future activity, fell 0.1% to an annual rate of 679,000 units. Housing starts for the year are up 24.9%.
Existing home sales rose 5% in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.61 million units from a downwardly revised 4.39 million units in November. The inventory of unsold homes on the market decreased to 2.38 million, a 6.2-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 7.2-month supply in November.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 50,000 to 352,000 for the week ending January 14. It was the lowest level since April 2008. Continuing claims for the week ending January 7 fell by 215,000 to 3.432 million.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on pending home sales on January 25 and new home sales on January 26.