Economic Update, July 23, 2012
Provided courtesy of Marie Richarz, Prospect Mortgage
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo monthly housing market index rose six points in July to 35, the highest level since March 2007. An index reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market.
The combined construction of new single-family homes and apartments in June rose 6.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 760,000 units. Single-family starts increased 4.7%. Volatile multifamily starts rose 12.8%. Compared to a year ago, housing starts are up 23.6%. Applications for new building permits, seen as an indicator of future activity, fell 3.7% to an annual rate of 755,000 units.
Retail sales fell 0.5% to $401.5 billion in June. This follows a 0.2% decrease in May. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales increased 3.8% in June.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending July 13 rose 16.9%. Refinancing applications increased 22%. Purchase volume fell 0.1%.
Consumer prices were unchanged in June, following a 0.3% decrease in May. Compared to a year ago, consumer prices are up 1.7% in June. Consumer prices at the core rate — excluding volatile food and energy prices — were up 0.2% in June.
Existing home sales fell 5.4% in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.37 million units from 4.62 million units in May. The inventory of unsold homes on the market decreased 3.2% to 2.39 million in June, a 6.6-month supply at the current sales pace, up from a 6.4-month supply in May.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending July 14 rose by 34,000 to 386,000 from an upwardly revised 352,000 the prior week. Continuing claims for the week ending July 7 rose 1,000 to 3.314 million.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on new home sales on July 25, pending home sales on July 26 and gross domestic product on July 27.