Economic Update, March 12, 2012
Courtesy of Marie Richarz, Prospect Mortgage
Factory orders fell 1% in January to a seasonally adjusted $462.6 billion, following an upwardly revised 1.4% increase in December. Excluding the volatile transportation sector, orders fell 0.3% in January.
Retail sales rose 1.3% for the week ending March 3, according to the ICSC-Goldman Sachs index. On a year-over-year basis, retailers saw sales increase 1.7%.
The Institute for Supply Management reported that the monthly composite index of non-manufacturing activity rose to 57.3 in February from 56.8 in January. A reading above 50 signals expansion.
According to the Federal Reserve, monthly consumer credit debt rose $17.8 billion in January for a total credit debt level of $2.512 trillion. Revolving debt, which includes credit cards, decreased $2.95 billion to $800.9 billion. Non-revolving debt, including loans for cars, rose $20.7 billion to $1.711 trillion, the biggest gain since November 2001.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending March 2 fell 1.2%. Refinancing applications decreased 2%. Purchase volume rose 2.1%.
The trade deficit increased to $52.6 billion in January from an upwardly revised $50.4 billion in December. Exports rose 1.4% to $180.8 billion. Imports advanced 2.1% to $233.4 billion.
Wholesalers increased their inventories 0.4% to $475.5 billion in January. Sales at the wholesale level fell 0.1% to $413.1 billion in January. On a year-over-year basis, sales were 7.9% higher since January 2011.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending March 3 rose by 8,000 to 362,000. Continuing claims for the week ending February 25 rose by 10,000 to 3.418 million. The monthly unemployment rate remained unchanged at 8.3% in February.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on retail sales on March 13 and industrial production on March 16.