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Friday, April 21, 2017

Existing-Home Sales Rose in March

Existing-home sales increased 4.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.71 million in March, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). This is the highest level in the past ten years.
"The early returns so far this spring buying season look very promising as a rising number of households dipped their toes into the market and were successfully able to close on a home last month," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. "Although finding available properties to buy continues to be a strenuous task for many buyers, there was enough of a monthly increase in listings in March for sales to muster a strong gain. Sales will go up as long as inventory does."

The total housing inventory rose 5.8% to 1.83 million homes available for sale, while the median existing home price stood at $236,400, a 6.8% increase from March 2016.

Distressed sales were 6% of the total in March, which are down from 8% a year ago. Five percent of sales were foreclosures and 1% were short sales. On average, foreclosures and short sales sold for discounts of 16% and 14%, respectively.

Read the NAR release.
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Beige Book: Economic Expansion Continues to Pick Up

Economic activity continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace across the twelve Federal Reserve Districts over the period from mid-February to the end of March, according to the just-released Federal Reserve Beige Book.

Consumer spending varied this period as reports of stronger light vehicle sales were accompanied by somewhat softer readings in non-auto retail spending. Manufacturing continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace across the Districts. Non-financial services continued to expand steadily while energy-related businesses noted improved conditions.

Employment expanded across all Districts at a modest to moderate pace. Labor markets once again remained tight and employers in most Districts reported having more difficulty filling low-skilled positions, although labor demand was stronger for higher skilled workers. Modest wage growth was seen in most Districts, while prices rose modestly since the previous report.

Read the full Federal Reserve report.
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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Industrial Production Increased in March

Industrial production increased 0.5% in March after a 0.1% February increase. Over the last year, industrial production was up 1.5%.
Manufacturing output decreased 0.4% in March, its first loss since August 2016. Production of durable goods fell 1.7%, while nondurables rose 2.1% during the month. Capacity utilization for manufacturing increased by 0.3 percentage point to 75.3%, a rate that is 3.1 percentage points below its long-run average.

The mining index increased 0.1% in March as gains in oil and gas extraction were mostly offset by declines in coal mining and in nonmetallic mineral mining.

The utilities index rose 8.6% in March, the largest increase in the history of the index.

Read the Fed release.
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Housing Starts Declined in March

Housing starts fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.215 million in March, 6.8% below the revised February rate of 1.303 million, but 9.2% above the March 2016 rate.
Housing activity increased in only one out of the four regions as the Northeast saw housing starts jump 12.9%. The West, Midwest, and South experienced declines of 16.0%, 16.2%, and 2.9%, respectively.
New building permits increased during the month, rising 3.6% to 1.260 million. Permits were up 17.0% from the March 2016 rate.

Housing completions were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.205 million, up 3.2% from the revised February estimate and 13.4% above the March 2016 rate.

Read the Census release.
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Monday, April 17, 2017

Builder Confidence Remained Solid in April

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index fell to 68 in April, a three point decrease from March’s reading of 71.

“Even with this month’s modest drop, builder confidence is on very firm ground, and builders are reporting strong interest among potential home buyers,” said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald, a home builder and developer from Kerrville, Texas.

All three HMI components declined in April, but remained at healthy levels. The component measuring current sales conditions fell three points to 74, the component measuring sales expectations decreased three points to 75, and the component measuring buyer traffic fell one point to 52.

The regional three-month moving averages for HMI scores were mixed. The Northeast fell two points to 46 while the Midwest and West rose one point to 68 and 77, respectively. The South held steady at 68.

Read the NAHB release.
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Friday, April 14, 2017

Retail Sales Fell in March

There were $470.8 billion in retail and food service sales in March, down 0.2% from the previous month and up 5.2% from March 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. February’s estimate was revised from up 0.1% to down 0.3%.
Core retail sales – excluding automobiles and parts – were unchanged for the second consecutive month. Year-over-year core sales increased 5.0%.

Retail trade sales declined 0.2% from February and are up 5.5% from last year. Sales at nonstore retailers decreased 0.6% from February, while increasing 11.9% year-over-year.

Sales at gasoline stations declined 1.0% during the month, but are up 14.3% from a year ago.

Read the Census release.
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CPI Decreased 0.3% in March

The Consumer Price Index decreased 0.3% in March on a seasonally adjusted basis. Over the last 12 months, the all-items index rose 2.4%.
Prices for all items less food and energy, the “core CPI,” decreased 0.1% in March, down from February’s 0.2% increase. The index rose 2.0% for the 12 months ending in March.

The food index increased 0.3%. Prices for food at home rose 0.5%, its largest increase since May 2014, while prices for food away from home increased 0.2%. Over the past 12 months, food prices are up 0.5%.

The energy index decreased 3.2% in March. The gasoline index posted a decline of 6.2% following a 3.0% February decrease.

Read the BLS release.
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