• Real GDP increased at an annual rate of 0.7% in the first quarter of 2017, according to the “advance” estimate by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter of 2016, real GDP increased 2.1%.
  • The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.6% in the first quarter of 2017, compared with an increase of 2.0% in the previous quarter.
  • Real final sales of domestic product (GDP less change in private inventories) increased 1.6% in the first quarter, in contrast to an increase of 1.1% in the final quarter of 2016.
  • New orders for manufactured durable goods increased 0.7% in March, while shipments increased 0.2%. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 0.2%, while shipments increased 0.1%. Year-to-date new orders were up 3.4% from the same period a year ago, while shipments were up 2.2%.
  • Retail inventories for March were up 0.4% from the previous month, and were up 3.5% from March 2016.
  • Wholesale inventories for March, were down 0.1% from February 2017, but were up 2.7% from a year ago.
  • The international trade deficit was $64.8 billion in March, up $0.9 billion from $63.9 billion in February, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  Exports of goods for March were $125.5 billion, $2.2 billion less than February exports. Imports of goods for March were $190.3 billion, $1.4 billion less than February imports.
  • March new home sales were up 5.8% from the previous month, and were up 15.6% from March 2016. The median sales price of new houses sold was $315.1 thousand, 1.2% above a year ago.
  • The Pending Home Sales Index decreased 0.8% to a reading of 111.4 in March, according to the National Association of Realtors. The index was 0.8% above March 2016 level.
  • The S & P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National U.S. Home Price Index for February indicated that home prices continued their rise across the country over the last 12 months. The U.S. National Index recorded a 5.8% annual gain in February, up from 5.6% last month and setting a 32-month high.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving higher. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.03% for the week ending April 27, up from last week when it averaged 3.97%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year rate was 3.66%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.27%, up from last week when it averaged 3.23%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year rate was 2.89%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 2.7% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending April 21st.
  • The Employment Cost Index for total compensation rose 0.8%, seasonally adjusted, for the 3-month period ending March 2017, following a 0.5% increase for the 3-month period ending December 2016. Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 2.4% for the 12-month period ending in March 2017, following a 2.2% increase for the 12-month period ending December 2016. Compensation costs for private industry workers increased 2.3% for the 12-month period ending March 2017, while compensation costs for state and local government workers increased 2.6%.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 14 thousand to 257 thousand in the week ending April 22. The 4-week moving average was 242.25 thousand, a decrease of 0.5 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
  • The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index, which had increased in March, decreased in April. The index now stands at 120.3 (1985=100), down from 124.9 in March. The present situation index decreased to 143.9, while the expectations index decreased to 112.3 in April.
  • The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment for April was little changed from March. The Index was 97 in April, compared with 96.9 in March and 89 in April of last year.
  • The Chicago FED National Activity Index decreased to 0.08 in March, from 0.27 in February. The index’s 3-month moving average decreased to 0.03 in March from 0.16 in February, but remained positive for the fourth consecutive month.

·      Total Industrial production increased 0.5% in March following a 0.1% increase in the previous month. The increase in March was more than accounted by an 8.6% surge in output of utilities – the largest monthly increase in the history of the index. The index was 1.5% above its March 2016 level. For the first quarter of 2017, industrial production increased at an annual rate of 1.5%.

·      Capacity utilization for the industrial sector increased 0.4 percentage point in March to 76.1, a rate that is 3.8 percentage points below its long-run (1972-2016) average.

·      Finance and insurance, retail trade, and professional, scientific, and technical services were the leading contributors to the increase in U.S. economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. 19 of 22 industry groups contributed to the overall 2.1% increase in real GDP in the fourth quarter. Real GDP increased 1.6% in the year 2016. The private as well as the government sector contributed to the increase. Growth was widespread, with 19 of 22 industry groups contributing to the increase. Information services, professional, scientific, and technical services, and health care and social assistance were the leading contributors to the increase in real GDP in the year 2016.

·      March existing home sales increased 4.4% to an annualized rate of 5,710 thousand units. The March figure was 5.9% above the March 2016 figure. The median sales price of existing houses sold was $236.4 thousand, 6.8% above March 2016. There were 1,830 thousand homes for sale at the end of the month. This represents a supply of 3.8 months at the current sales rate, compared to 4.4 in March of 2016.

·      Housing starts in March were down 6.8% from the previous month, but were up 9.2% from a year ago. Building permits were up 3.6% from the previous month, and were up 17.0% from a year ago.

·      The housing market index of National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Wells Fargo decreased to 68 in April, from 71 in March. The index was 67 in January of 2017, and 58 in April of 2016.

·      The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving lower. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.97% for the week ending April 20, down from last week when it averaged 4.08%. A year ago this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 3.59%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.23% for the week ending April 20, down from last week when it averaged 3.34%. A year ago this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 2.85%.

·      Mortgage applications decreased 1.8% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending April 14th.

·      The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 10 thousand to 244 thousand in the week ending April 15. The 4-week moving average was 243 thousand, a decrease of 4.25 thousand from the previous week’s average.

·      Unemployment rates were lower in March in 17 states and stable in 33 states and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Eighteen states had jobless rate decreases from a year earlier, and 32 states and the District of Columbia had little or no change. Over the year, 27 states added nonfarm payroll jobs, 2 states lost jobs, and 21 states and the District of Colombia were essentially unchanged.

·      The Conference Board index of leading economic indicators increased 0.4% in March, following an increase of 0.5% in the previous month. Over the six-month span through March, the leading index increased 2.4% (about a 4.9% annual rate). The Conference Board coincident economic index increased 0.2% in March, the same increase as in the previous month. Over the six-month span through March, the coincident index increased 1.0% (about a 1.9% annual rate).

·      The FED’s “Beige Book” indicated that overall economic activity continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace between mid-February and the end of March.

·      The April Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicated that business activity grew at a more subdued pace in New York. The general business conditions index decreased to 5.2 in April, from 16.4 in March. The prices paid index increased 1.8 points, while the prices received index rose 3.6 points.

·      The Philadelphia FED business outlook survey for April reported a slower growth in manufacturing activity in the region. The indicator for general activity, decreased to 22.0 in April, from 32.8 in March.

·      The Chicago FED National Financial Conditions Index was unchanged at negative 0.78 in the week ending April 14.

·      Advance estimates of retail and food services sales for March were down 0.2% from February, but were up 5.2% from March 2016. Excluding motor vehicle & parts, retail sales in March were virtually unchanged from the previous month, and were up 5.0% from a year ago, Year-to-date, retail sales were up 3.9% from the same period a year ago.

·      Total manufacturing and trade sales for February were up 0.2% from January, and were up 7.1% from February 2016.  Total business inventories for February were up 0.3% from the previous month, and were up 2.8% from a year ago.

·      The federal government budget ran a deficit of $176.2 billion in March, following a deficit of $192.0 billion in the previous month. The cumulative budget deficit for the first six months of fiscal year 2017 was $526.9 billion, compared with a deficit of $459.4 billion for the same period of the previous fiscal year.

·      The import price index decreased 0.2% in March, while export prices increased 0.2%. Import prices increased 4.2% from March 2016 to March 2017, while export prices increased 3.6%.

·      The producer price index for final demand decreased 0.1% in March, following an increase of 0.3% in the previous month. The producer price index for final demand increased 2.3% from March 2016 to March 2017.

·      The consumer price index (headline index) decreased 0.3% in March, following a 0.1% increase in the previous month. The core index decreased 0.1%, following a 0.2% increase in the previous month. The consumer price index increased 2.4% for the 12-month period ending in March, while the core index rose 2.0%.

·      Real average hourly earnings for all employees increased 0.5% from February to March. This result stems from a 0.2% increase in average hourly earnings combined with a 0.3% decrease in the consumer price index.

·      The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased a thousand to 234 thousand in the week ending April 8. The 4-week moving average was 247.25 thousand, a decrease of 3 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.

·      The number of job openings was little changed at 5.7 million on the last business day of February, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the month, hires and separations were also little changed at 5.3 million and 5.1 million, respectively.

·      The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving lower. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.08% for the week ending April 13, down from last week when it averaged 4.10%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.58%.

  • Total non-farm payroll employment edged up 98 thousand in March, following an increase of 219 thousand in the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private-sector payrolls increased by 89 thousand in the month, while government employment increased by 7 thousand.
  • The unemployment rate decreased to 4.5% in March, from 4.7% in February. The unemployment rate was 5.0% in March of 2016.
  • The average workweek of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls held steady at 34.3 hours. Average hourly earnings increased by 5 cents to $26.14. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 2.7%.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 25 thousand to 243 thousand in the week ending April 1. The 4-week moving average was 250 thousand, a decrease of 4.5 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
  • Unemployment rates were lower in February than a year earlier in 274 of the 388 metropolitan areas, higher in 8 areas, and unchanged in 26 areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In February, 323 metropolitan areas had year-over-year increases in nonfarm payroll employment, 64 had decreases, and one had no change.
  • Sales of domestic cars decreased 2.0% in March, while total light vehicle (cars and light trucks) sales decreased 5.5%. Total light vehicle sales were 16.5 million units, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, compared to 16.6 million in March of 2016.
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased 1.0% in February, while shipments increased 0.3%. Unfilled orders were virtually unchanged, while inventories were up 0.2%. Year-to-date new orders for manufactured goods were up 4.6%, and shipments were up 4.3% from the same period in 2016.
  • In February, international trade deficit was $43.6 billion, down $4.6 billion from $48.2 billion in January.  Year-to-date trade deficit increased $2.8 billion, from the same period in 2016.
  • February construction spending was up 0.8% from the previous month, and was up 3.0% from March 2016, according to U.S. Census Bureau. Private construction increased 0.8% in March, while public construction increased 0.6%.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving lower. 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.10% for the week ending April 6, down from a week earlier when it averaged 4.14%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.59%. 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.36%, down from last week when it averaged 3.39%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 2.88%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 1.6% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending March 31st.
  • The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing survey indicated that the manufacturing sector expanded in March, and the overall economy grew for the 94th consecutive month.
  • In March, the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) non-manufacturing survey results indicated growth in the non-manufacturing business activity for the 87th consecutive month. Fifteen non-manufacturing industries reported growth, while three industries reported contraction in March.