Economic Update Provided by Marie Richarz, Prospect Mortgage
Week Ending November 21, 2011
The index of leading economic indicators — designed to forecast economic activity in the next three to six months — rose a very strong 0.9% in October, following a revised 0.1% increase in September.
Retail sales rose 0.5% to $397.7 billion in October after a 1.1% increase in September. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales rose 7.2% in October.
Total business inventories were unchanged in September at $1.532 trillion, up 9% from a year ago. Total business sales increased 0.6% to $1.209 trillion in September, up 11.6% from a year ago. The total business inventories/sales ratio in September was 1.27.
Consumer prices fell a seasonally adjusted 0.1% in October, following a 0.3% increase in September. For the year, seasonally adjusted consumer prices are up 3.6%.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo monthly housing market index rose three points in November to 20 from a revised reading of 17 in October. An index reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market.
The combined construction of new single-family homes and apartments in October fell 0.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 628,000 units. Single-family starts increased 3.9%. Multifamily starts fell 13.3%. Applications for new building permits, seen as an indicator of future activity, rose 10.9% to an annual rate of 653,000 units.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 5,000 to 388,000 for the week ending November 12. That’s the lowest level since April. Continuing claims for the week ending November 5 fell by 57,000 to 3.608 million, the lowest level since September 2008.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on existing home sales on November 21 and gross domestic product on November 22.