Ecomnomic Update – August 23, 2010





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Last Week in the News
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The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo housing market index fell one point in August to 13. Economists had anticipated a reading of 15. It was the lowest reading since March 2009. An index reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market.
The combined construction of new single-family homes and apartments in July rose 1.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 546,000 units. Applications for new building permits, seen as an indicator of future activity, dropped 3.1% to an annual rate of 565,000 units.
The producer price index, which tracks wholesale price inflation, rose 0.2% in July, following a 0.5% decrease in June. Core prices — excluding food and fuel — rose 0.3% after a 0.1% increase in June. For the year, wholesale prices are up 4.1%.
Industrial production at the nation’s factories, mines and utilities increased 1% in July, following a revised 0.1% drop in June. Economists had anticipated a gain of 0.6%. Capacity utilization rose to 74.8% in July, the highest level since November 2008.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending August 13 increased 13%. Refinancing applications rose 17.1%. Purchase volume fell 3.4%.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose by 12,000 to 500,000 for the week ending August 14. It was the highest level since November 2009. Economists had projected claims would fall to 480,000. Continuing claims for the week ending August 7 fell by 13,000 to 4.48 million.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on existing home sales on August 24, new home sales on August 25 and gross domestic product on August 27.

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