Last Week in the News
The Institute for Supply Management reported the monthly index of non-manufacturing activity rose to 55.4 in March from 53 in February. A reading above 50 signals expansion. Economists had anticipated a reading of 53.3. The reading was the highest since May 2006.
The National Association of Realtors reported that its pending home sales index, a forward-looking indicator based on signed contracts, rose 8.2% in February after a revised 7.8% decrease in January. The February reading was the largest gain since October 2001.
According to the Federal Reserve, consumer credit debt fell in February by $11.5 billion, an annual rate of 5.6%. Economists had forecast that consumer debt would rise by $500 million. Consumer credit rose in January by $10.6 billion, ending a record 11 consecutive months of decline.
Sales at U.S. retail chains rose 9.1% in March. It was the largest monthly jump since recordkeeping began in 2000. Economists had anticipated a 6.3% increase.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose by 18,000 to 460,000 in the week ending April 3. Continuing claims for the week ending March 27 fell by 131,000 to 4.55 million.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage applications for the week ending April 2 fell 11%. Purchase volume increased 0.2%. Refinancing applications fell 16.9%.
The Commerce Department said wholesalers increased their inventories by 0.6% in February following a revised 0.1% rise in January. Sales at the wholesale level rose 0.8% in February, marking the 11th straight monthly gain.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on retail sales on April 14, the housing market index on April 15 and housing starts on April 16.
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