Economic Update, May 21, 2012
Provided courtesy of Marie Richarz, Prospect Mortgage
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo monthly housing market index rose five points in May to 29. It was the best reading since May 2007. An index reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market.
The combined construction of new single-family homes and apartments in April rose 2.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 717,000 units. Single-family starts increased 2.3%. Multifamily starts rose 4.3%. Compared to a year ago, housing starts are up 29.9%. Applications for new building permits, seen as an indicator of future activity, fell 7% to an annual rate of 715,000 units.
Industrial production at the nation’s factories, mines and utilities in April increased 1.1%, the most since December 2010, after a 0.6% decline in March. Compared to a year ago, industrial production is up 5.2%. Capacity utilization in April improved to 79.2%, the highest output since April 2008.
Retail sales rose 0.1% to $408 billion in April. This follows a downwardly revised 0.7% increase in March. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales increased 6.4%.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending May 11 rose 9.2%. Refinancing applications increased 13%. Purchase volume fell 2.4%.
Consumer prices were unchanged in April, following a 0.3% increase in March. Compared to a year ago, consumer prices are up 2.3%.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending May 12 were unchanged at 370,000 from the prior week. Continuing claims for the week ending May 5 rose by 18,000 to 3.265 million.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on existing home sales on May 22, new home sales on May 23 and durable goods orders on May 24.