Economic Update – March 11, 2013
Provided Courtesy of Marie Richarz, Prospect Mortgage
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending March 1 rose 14.8%. Purchase volume rose 15%. Refinancing applications also increased 15%.
Non-manufacturing activity rose to 56 in February from 55.2 in January. A reading above 50 signals expansion. It was the 38th straight month of expansion in the services sector.
Factory orders fell $9.6 billion or 2% in January to a seasonally adjusted $472.9 billion. This follows a 1.3% increase in December. Excluding the volatile transportation sector, orders increased 1.3% in January.
The trade deficit increased to $44.4 billion in January from $38.1 billion in December. Exports fell $2.2 billion or 1.2% to $184.5 billion. Imports increased $4.1 billion or 1.8% to $228.9 billion.
Retail sales rose 0.2% for the week ending March 2, according to the ICSC-Goldman Sachs index. On a year-over-year basis, retailers saw sales increase 1.8%.
Wholesalers increased their inventories 1.2% to $504.4 billion in January. Sales at the wholesale level fell 0.8% to $415.4 billion in January. On a year-over-year basis, sales were 3% higher than January 2012.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending March 2 fell by 7,000 to 340,000. Continuing claims for the week ending February 23 rose by 7,000 to 3.09 million. The less volatile four-week average of claims for unemployment benefits was 348,750, the lowest level since early March 2008. The unemployment rate decreased to 7.7% in February from 7.9% in January. Employers added 236,000 jobs in February.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on retail sales on March 13 and industrial production on March 15.