Economic Update – March 25, 2013
Provided Courtesy of Marie Richarz, Prospect Mortgage
The combined construction of new single-family homes and apartments in February rose 0.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 917,000 units. Single-family starts increased 0.5%. Volatile multifamily starts rose 1.4%. Compared to the previous year, housing starts were up 27.7% in February. Applications for new building permits, seen as an indicator of future activity, rose 4.6% to an annual rate of 946,000 units.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo monthly housing market index fell two points in March to 44. An index reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending March 15 fell 7.1%. Purchase volume fell 4%. Refinancing applications decreased 8%.
Existing home sales rose 0.8% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.98 million units from 4.94 million units in January. Compared to a year ago, existing home sales were up 10.2% in February. The inventory of unsold homes on the market rose 9.6% to 1.94 million in February, a 4.7-month supply at the current sales pace, up from a 4.3-month supply in January.
The index of leading economic indicators — designed to forecast economic activity in the next three to six months — rose 0.5% in February, following an upwardly revised 0.5% increase in January.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending March 16 rose by 2,000 to 336,000. Continuing claims for the week ending March 9 rose by 5,000 to 3.053 million. The less volatile four-week average of claims for unemployment benefits was 339,750, the lowest level since February 2008.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on the housing price index and new home sales on March 26, and pending home sales on March 27.