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Monday, February 27, 2017

Durable Goods Orders Increased in January

New orders for manufactured durable goods increased 1.8% in January to $230.4 billion, following a 0.8% December decrease, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
New orders excluding defense rose 1.5% on the month, as orders of nondefense capital goods increased 3.6% to $69.0 billion.

Shipments of manufactured durable goods decreased 0.1% to $238.3 billion.

Inventories of manufactured durable goods were virtually unchanged at $383.8 billion, following 0.1% December decrease.

Read the Census release.
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Friday, February 24, 2017

New Home Sales Increased in January

New single-family home sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 555,000 in January, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The January level was 3.7% above the revised December rate of 535,000 and 5.5% above the January 2016 level.
Sales rose in most regions, increasing 15.8% in the Northeast, 14.8% in the Midwest, and 4.3% in the South. In contrast, sales in the West fell 4.4%.

The median price of a new home was $312,900, down 3.0% from December. The average price was $360,900.

At the end of January there was an estimated supply of 5.7 months at the current sales rate, unchanged from December.

Read the Census/HUD release.
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Consumer Sentiment Fell in February

Consumer Sentiment declined 2.2 points in February to 96.3, according to the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index.
The Current Economic Conditions Index rose 0.2 points to 111.5, while the Consumer Expectations Index fell 3.8 points to 86.5.
“While consumer confidence edged upward in late February, it remained slightly below the decade peak recorded in January. Overall, the Sentiment Index has been higher during the past three months than anytime since March 2004,” said Richard Curtin, chief economist of UM Surveys of Consumers. “Normally, the implication would be that consumers expected Trump's election to have a positive economic impact. That is not the case since the gain represents the result of an unprecedented partisan divergence, with Democrats expecting recession and Republicans expecting robust growth.”

Read the University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers release.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

FOMC Minutes: Hike May be Appropriate ‘Fairly Soon’

Fed officials expressed that they could raise interest rates “fairly soon” as an improving economy and the possibility of faster than anticipated inflation could put the economy at risk of overheating, according to the minutes of the meeting released today.

“Many participants expressed the view that it might be appropriate to raise the federal funds rate again fairly soon if incoming information on the labor market and inflation was in line with or stronger than their current expectations,” the minutes said.

The minutes showed that Fed officials grappled with uncertainty on numerous issues, including the Trump administration’s fiscal plans and the potential effects of a rising dollar.

The Fed has left the door open for the possibility of raising rates at its next policy meeting on March 14-15, as some Federal Open Market Committee members noted that it might be appropriate to move “potentially at an upcoming meeting.” The FOMC voted unanimously to leave rates at 0.50-0.75 basis points at its last meeting.

Read the FOMC Minutes.
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Existing-Home Sales Increased in January

Existing-home sales rose 3.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.69 million in January, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The fast start to 2017 saw existing-home sales reach their strongest level since February 2007 (5.79 million).
"Much of the country saw robust sales activity last month as strong hiring and improved consumer confidence at the end of last year appear to have sparked considerable interest in buying a home," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. "Market challenges remain, but the housing market is off to a prosperous start as homebuyers staved off inventory levels that are far from adequate and deteriorating affordability conditions."

The total housing inventory rose 2.4% to 1.69 million homes available for sale, while the median existing home price stood at $228,900, a 7.1% increase from January 2016.

Distressed sales remained at 7% of the total in January, which are down from 9% a year ago. Five percent of sales were foreclosures and 2% were short sales. On average, foreclosures and short sales sold for discounts of 14% and 10%, respectively.

Read the NAR release.
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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Housing Starts Fell in January

Housing starts fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.246 million in January, 2.6% below the revised December rate of 1.279 million, but 10.5% above the January 2016 rate.
Housing activity increased in two out of the four regions. The Northeast and the South saw housing starts jump 55.4% and 20.0%, respectively. The West and the Midwest, however, experienced declines of 41.3% and 17.9%, respectively.
New building permits increased during the month, rising 4.6% to 1.285 million. Permits were up 8.2% from the January 2016 rate.

Housing completions were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.047 million, down 5.6% from the revised December estimate and 0.9% below the January 2016 rate.

Read the Census release.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Builder Confidence Declined in February

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index fell to 65 in February, a 2 point decrease from January’s reading of 67.

“While builders remain optimistic, we are seeing the numbers settling back into a normal range,” said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald, a home builder and developer from Kerrville, Texas. “Regulatory burdens remain a major challenge to our industry, and NAHB looks forward to working with the new Congress and administration to help alleviate some of the pressures that are holding small businesses back and making homes less affordable.”

All three HMI components declined in February. The component measuring current sales conditions fell 1 point to 71, the component measuring sales expectations declined 3 points to 73, and the component measuring buyer traffic fell 5 points to 46.

The regional three-month moving averages for HMI scores were mixed. The Northeast fell 2 points to 50 and the Midwest rose 1 point to 65. The South declined 1 point to 67 and the West held at 79 for the third straight month.

Read the NAHB release.
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