Economic Update, May 14, 2012
Provided courtesy of Marie Richarz, Prospect Mortgage
The Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for May’s preliminary reading rose to 77.8 from 76.4 at the end of April. It was the highest reading since January 2008.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending May 4 rose 1.7%. Refinancing applications increased 1.3%. Purchase volume rose 3.4%.
The producer price index, which tracks wholesale price inflation, fell 0.2% in April after a flat reading in March. On a year-over-year basis, wholesale prices are up 1.9%, the seventh straight month of slowing year-over-year increases. Core prices — excluding food and fuel — rose 0.2% in April.
Wholesalers increased their inventories 0.3% to $480.4 billion in March, the slowest pace in four months. Sales at the wholesale level rose 0.5% to $411.1 billion in March. On a year-over-year basis, sales were 6.5% higher since March 2011.
The trade deficit increased to $51.8 billion in March from a revised $45.4 billion in February. Exports rose 2.9% to $186.8 billion in March. Imports rose 5.2% to $238.6 billion in March.
Import prices fell 0.5% in April, following a 1.5% increase in March. On a year-over-year basis, import prices are up 0.5%. Export prices rose 0.4% in April after a 0.8% increase in March. On a year-over-year basis, import prices are up 0.7%.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending May 5 fell by 1,000 to 367,000 from a revised 368,000 the prior week. Continuing claims for the week ending April 28 fell by 61,000 to 3.229 million.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on the consumer price index and the housing market index on May 15 and housing starts on May 16.