• January existing home sales were down 3.2% from the previous month, and were down 4.8% from January 2017, according to the National Association of Realtors. The median sales price of existing houses sold was $240.5 thousand, 5.8% above January 2017. There were 1.52 million existing homes for sale at the end of the month.  This represents a supply of 3.4 months at the current sales rate, compared to 3.6 in January of 2017.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average 30-year fixed mortgage rate increasing for the seventh consecutive week. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.40% for the week ending February 22, up from last week when it averaged 4.38%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.16%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.85%, up from last week when it averaged 3.84%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.37%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 6.6% from a week earlier week, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending February 16th.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 7 thousand to 222 thousand in the week ending February 17. The 4-week moving average was 226 thousand, a decrease of 2.25 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
  • The Conference Board index of leading economic indicators increased 1.0% in January, following an increase of 0.6% in the previous month. Over the six-month span through January, the leading index increased 3.8% (about a 7.8% annual rate). The Conference Board coincident economic index increased 0.1% in January, following a 0.3% increase in the previous month. Over the six-month span through January, the coincident index increased 1.2% (about a 2.4% annual rate).
  • The Chicago Fed National Financial Conditions Index (NFCI) edged up to negative 0.80 for the week ending February 16. Risk indicators contributed negative 0.30, credit indicators contributed negative 0.33, and leverage indicators contributed negative 0.16 to the index in the latest week.

·      Advance estimates of retail and food services sales for January were down 0.3% from December, but were up 3.6% from January 2017. Excluding motor vehicles and parts, retail sales were unchanged from the previous month, and were up 4.2% from a year ago.

·      Total manufacturing and trade sales increased 0.6% in December, while inventories increased 0.4%. Sales were up 6.7% from a year ago, and inventories were up 3.2% from December 2016.

·      Total Industrial production decreased 0.1% in January, following a 0.4% increase in the previous month. The rate of capacity utilization for total industry was 77.5%, a level 2.3 percentage points below its 1972-2017 average, and 1.8 percentage point above its level in January 2017.

·      Housing starts in January were up 9.7% from December, and were up 7.3% from January 2017. Building permits in January were up 7.4% from the previous month.

·      The housing market index of National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Wells Fargo Held steady at 72 in February.

·      The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed 30-year fixed mortgage rate reaching its highest level since April 2014. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.38% for the week ending February 15th, up from last week when it averaged 4.32%. A year ago, at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.15%.

·      Mortgage applications decreased 4.1% from a week earlier week, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending February 9, 2018.

·      The import price index increased 1.0% in January, following a 0.2% increase in the previous month. Import prices advanced 3.6% from January 2017 to January 2018. The export price index increased 0.8% in January, after increasing 0.1% in December. Export prices increased 3.4% from January 2017 to January 2018.

·      The producer price index for final demand (headline index) increased 0.4% in January, after holding steady in the previous month. The index for final demand less foods and energy increased 0.4%, following a 0.1% decrease in the previous month. The producer price index for final demand increased 1.7% from January 2017, while the index for final demand less foods and energy increased 2.2%

·      The consumer price index (headline index) increased 0.5% in January, following a 0.2% in the previous month. The core index, all items less food and energy, increased 0.3%, following a 0.2% increase in the previous month. The consumer price index increased 2.1% for the 12-month period ending in January, while the core index rose 1.8%.

·      Real average hourly earnings for all employees decreased 0.2% from December to January. This result stems from a 0.3% increase in average hourly earnings combined with a 0.5% increase in the consumer price index for all urban consumers.

·      The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 7 thousand to 230 thousand in the week ending February 10. The 4-week moving average was 228.5 thousand, an increase of 3.5 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.

·      The February Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicated that business activity continued to expand in New York. The general business conditions index was 13.1 in February, compared with 17.7 in January.

·      The Philadelphia FED business outlook survey reported that manufacturing activity continued to expand in February. The general business activity index was 22.2 in February, compared with 25.8 in January.

·      The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment, preliminary, for February was 99.9, up from 95.7 in January. The index was 96.3 in February of 2017. The current economic conditions component was 115.1 in early February, compared with 110.5 in January. The index of consumer expectations increased to 90.2 in February, from 86.3 in January.

  • Sales of merchant wholesalers in December were up 1.2% from the previous month, and were up 9.1% from the December 2016 level. Inventories were up 0.4% from the previous month, and were up 3.4% from a year ago.  The December inventories/sales ratio for merchant wholesalers was 1.22, compared with 1.29 in December 2016. In the year 2017, sales were up 7.6% from the previous year.
  • In December international trade deficit was $53.1 billion, $2.7 billion more than the revised November figure. For 2017, the goods and services deficit was $566.0 billion, up $61.2 billion from $504.8 billion in 2016. As percentage of gross domestic product, the deficit was 2.9% in 2017, compared with 2.7% in 2016.
  • December consumer credit outstanding increased at an annual rate of 5.8%. Revolving credits increased 6.0%, while non-revolving credits increased 5.7%. The increase in consumer credit was 5.4% in the year 2017.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 3 thousand to 221 thousand in the week ending February 3. The 4-week moving average was 224.5 thousand, a decrease of 10 thousand from the previous week’s average. This was the lowest level for this average since March 10, 1973 when it was 222 thousand.
  • The number of job openings was little changed at 5.8 million on the last business day of December, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the month, hires and separations were little changed at 5.5 million and 5.2 million, respectively.
  • Unemployment rates were lower in December than a year earlier in 314 of the 388 metropolitan areas, higher in 61 areas, and unchanged in 13 areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 316 metropolitan areas, decreased in 60 areas, and was unchanged in 12 areas.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed 30-year fixed mortgage rate reaching its highest level since December 2016. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.32% for the week ending February 8th, up from last week when it averaged 4.22%. A year ago, at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.17%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.77%, up from last week when it averaged 3.68%. A year ago, at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.39%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 0.7% from a week earlier week, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending February 2.
  • In January, the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) non-manufacturing survey results indicated growth in the non-manufacturing business activity for the 96th consecutive month.
  • Total non-farm payroll employment rose 200 thousand in January, following an increase of 160 thousand in the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Private-sector payrolls increased by 196 thousand in the month, while government employment decreased by 4 thousand. Employment continued to trend up in construction, food services and drinking places, health care, and manufacturing.
  • The unemployment rate was 4.1% in January, compared with 4.8% in January of 2017.
  • The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls declined by 0.2 hour to 34.3 hours in January. In January, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 9 cents to $26.74, following an 11-cent gain in December. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 75 cents, or 2.9%.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased a thousand to 230 thousand in the week ending January 27. The 4-week moving average was 234.5 thousand, a decrease of 5 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
  • Nonfarm business sector productivity decreased at a 0.1% annual rate during the fourth quarter of 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, following a 2.7% increase in the previous quarter. The productivity was up 1.1% from the fourth quarter of 2015. Nonfarm business sector productivity grew 1.2% in the year 2017, following a 0.1% decrease in 2016.
  • The Employment Cost Index for total compensation rose 0.6%, seasonally adjusted, for the 3-month period ending December 2017, following a 0.7% increase for the 3–month period ending September 2017. Compensation costs increased 2.6% for the 12-month period ending December 2017.
  • Personal income increased 0.4%, in December, while disposable personal income increased 0.3%, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Personal consumption expenditures increased 0.4%, following a 0.8% increase in the previous month. The price index for personal consumption expenditures increased 0.1% in December, following a 0.2% increase in the previous month. The price index excluding food and energy increased 0.2% in December, after a 0.1% increase in November. The price index increased 1.7% from December 2016, while the index excluding food and energy increased 1.5%.
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased 1.7% in December, while shipments increased 0.6%. New orders for manufactured goods increased 6.0% in the year 2017, and shipments increased 5.2%.
  • December construction spending was up 0.7% from November, and was up 2.6% from December 2016. Private construction increased 0.8% in December, while public construction increased 0.3%.
  • The Pending Home Sales Index, a leading indicator for the housing sector, increased 0.5% to a reading of 110.1 in December, according to the National Association of Realtors. The Index was up 0.5% from December 2016.
  • The S & P Corelogic Case-Shiller National U.S. Home Price Indices posted an annual increase of 6.2% for the 12 months ending in November. The 10-city composite index increased 6.1% from November 2016 to November 2017, while and 20-city composite index increased 6.4%.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed fixed mortgage rates continuing their upward trend in 2018. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 4.22% for the week ending February 1, up from last week when it averaged 4.15%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 4.19%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 2.6% from a week earlier week, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending January 26th.
  • The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index, which had decreased in December, increased to 125.4 in January.
  • The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment for January was 95.7, down from 95.9 in December.
  • The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing survey indicated that the manufacturing sector expanded in January, and the overall economy grew for the 105th consecutive month.
  • The Federal Open Market Committee decided to keep its target for the federal funds rate at 1.25% to 1.50%. The Committee indicated that labor market conditions continued to strengthen and economic activity continued to expand at a solid rate. The Committee expects “that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant further gradual increases in the federal funds rate; the federal funds rate is likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run.”