Last Week in the News
New home sales rose 26.9% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 411,000 units from an upwardly revised rate of 324,000 units in February. Economists had expected a pace of 330,000 units. It was the biggest monthly increase in 47 years.
The index of leading economic indicators — designed to forecast economic activity in the next three to six months — rose 1.4% in March after a revised 0.4% gain in February. It was the 12th straight monthly increase and the fastest pace of growth in 10 months.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage applications for the week ending April 16 rose 13.6%. Purchase volume increased 10.1%. Refinancing applications jumped 15.8%.
The producer price index, which tracks wholesale price inflation, rose 0.7% in March, following a 0.6% decrease in February. Economists had expected a 0.4% rise. The increase was largely due to a sharp rise in vegetable prices after a cold snap damaged crops in Florida.
Existing home sales rose 6.8% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million units from 5.01 million units in February. The inventory of unsold homes on the market rose 1.5% to 3.6 million, an 8-month supply at the current sales pace, down from an 8.5-month supply in February.
Orders for durable goods — items expected to last three or more years — fell 1.3% in March after a revised 1.1% increase in February. Excluding volatile transportation-related goods, orders posted a monthly increase of 2.8%.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 24,000 to 456,000 in the week ending April 17. Continuing claims for the week ending April 10 fell by 40,000 to 4.6 million.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on the housing price index and consumer confidence on April 27, and gross domestic product on April 30.
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