·      Real GDP increased at an annual rate of 2.3% in the first quarter of 2018, according to the “advance” estimate by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter of 2017, real GDP increased 2.9%.

·      The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.8% in the first quarter of 2018, compared with an increase of 2.5% in the previous quarter. The personal consumption expenditures price index increased 2.7%, the same increase as in the fourth quarter. Excluding food and energy prices, the personal consumption expenditures price index increased 2.5%, compared with an increase of 1.9%.

·      Real final sales of domestic product (GDP less change in private inventories) increased 1.9% in the first quarter, in contrast to an increase of 3.4% in the final quarter of 2017.

·      Average expenditures per consumer unit for July 2016 through June 2017 were up 3.9% compared with the July 2015 through June 2016 midyear average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. During the same period, the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) rose 1.9% and average pretax incomes increased 0.3%. Most major components of household spending increased over the 12 months ending June 2017. The 15.2% rise in cash contributions spending was the largest percentage increase among all major components, followed by a 10.6% rise in education expenditures. Expenditures on personal insurance and pensions were up 5.9%, and expenditures on healthcare were up 5.4%. Expenditures on housing increased 4.5%, while expenditures on food increased 2.9%.  

·      New orders for manufactured durable goods increased 2.6% in March, while shipments increased 0.3%. Excluding transportation, new were virtually unchanged, while shipments decreased 0.4%. Year-to-date new orders were up 8.7% from the same period a year ago, while shipments were up 6.8%.

·      Retail inventories for March were down 0.4% from the previous month, but were up 1.6% from March 2017.

·      Wholesale inventories for March, were up 0.5% from February, and were up 5.8% from a year ago.

·      The international trade deficit was $68.0 billion in March, down $7.8 billion from $75.9 billion in February, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  Exports of goods for March were $140.1 billion, $3.4 billion more than February exports. Imports of goods for March were $208.1 billion, $4.4 billion less than February imports.

·      March existing home sales increased 1.1% to an annualized rate of 5,600 thousand units. The March figure was 1.2% below the March 2017 figure. The median sales price of existing houses sold was $250.4 thousand, 5.8% above March 2017. There were 1,670 thousand homes for sale at the end of the month. This represents a supply of 3.6 months at the current sales rate, compared to 3.8 in March of 2017.

·      March new home sales were up 4.0% from the previous month, and were up 8.8% from March 2017. The median sales price of new houses sold was $337.2 thousand, 4.8% above a year ago.

·      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 6.3% annual gain in February, up from 6.1% last month. The 10-City Composite annual increase came in at 6.5%, up from 6.0% in the previous month. The 20-City Composite posted a 6.8% year-over-year gain, up from 6.4% in the previous month.

·      The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index increased 0.6% in February.  From February 2017 to February 2018, house prices were up 7.2%.  The 12-month changes ranged from 4.8% in the Middle Atlantic division to 10.3% in the Pacific division.

·      The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving higher and reaching their highest level since the week of August 22, 2013. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.58% for the week ending April 26, up from last week when it averaged 4.47%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year rate was 4.03%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.02%, up from last week when it averaged 3.94%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year rate was 3.27%.

·      Mortgage applications decreased 0.2% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending April 20th.

·      The Employment Cost Index for total compensation rose 0.8%, seasonally adjusted, for the 3-month period ending March 2018, following a 0.6% increase for the 3-month period ending December 2017. Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 2.7% for the 12-month period ending in March 2018, following a 2.6% increase for the 12-month period ending December 2017. Compensation costs for private industry workers increased 2.8% for the 12-month period ending March 2018, while compensation costs for state and local government workers increased 2.2%.

·      The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 24 thousand to 209 thousand in the week ending April 21. This is the lowest level for initial claims since December 6, 1969 when it was 202 thousand. The 4-week moving average was 229.25 thousand, a decrease of 2.25 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.

·      The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index, which had decreased in March, increased in April. The index now stands at 128.7 (1985=100), up from 127.0 in March. The present situation index increased to 159.6, while the expectations index increased to 108.1 in April.

·      The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment for April was 98.8, compared with 101.4 in March and 97.0 in April of last year. The Index of Consumer Expectations edged down to 88.4 in April, from 88.8 in March, while the Index for Current Economic Conditions decreased to 114.9, from 121.2.

·      The Chicago FED National Activity Index decreased to 0.10 in March, from 0.98 in February. The index’s 3-month moving average decreased to 0.27 in March from 0.31 in February.

 

·      Advance estimates of retail and food services sales for March were up 0.6% from February, and were up 4.5% from March 2017. Excluding motor vehicle & parts, retail sales in March were up 0.2% from the previous month, and were up 4.5% from a year ago. Year-to-date, retail sales were up 4.8% from the same period a year ago.

·      Total manufacturing and trade sales for February were up 0.4% from January, and were up 5.8% from February 2017.  Total business inventories for February were up 0.6% from the previous month, and were up 4.0% from a year ago.

·      Total Industrial production increased 0.5% in March following a 1.0% increase in the previous month. The index was 4.3% above its March 2017 level. For the first quarter of 2018, industrial production increased at an annual rate of 4.5%.

·      Capacity utilization for the industrial sector increased 0.3 percentage point in March to 78.0, a rate that is 1.8 percentage points below its long-run (1972-2017) average.

·      Durable goods manufacturing, construction, and professional, scientific, and technical services were the leading contributors to the increase in U.S. economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. 16 of 22 industry groups contributed to the overall 2.9% increase in real GDP in the fourth quarter.

·      Real GDP increased 2.3% in the year 2017. The private as well as the government sector contributed to the increase. Growth was widespread, with 20 of 22 industry groups contributing to the increase. Real estate and rental and leasing, health care and social assistance, and durable goods manufacturing were the leading contributors to the increase in real GDP.

·      Housing starts in March were up 1.9% from the previous month, and were up 10.9% from a year ago. Building permits were up 2.5% from the previous month, and were up 7.5% from a year ago.

·      The housing market index of National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Wells Fargo decreased to 69 in April, from 70 in March. The index was 72 in January of 2018, and 68 in April of 2017.

·      The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average mortgage rates “jumping across the board”. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.47% for the week ending April 19, up from last week when it averaged 4.42%. A year ago this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 3.97%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.94%, up from last week when it averaged 3.87%. A year ago this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 3.23%.

·      Mortgage applications increased 4.9% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending April 13th.

·      The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased a thousand to 232 thousand in the week ending April 14. The 4-week moving average was 231.25 thousand, an increase of 1.25 thousand from the previous week’s average.

·      Unemployment rates were lower in March in 4 states, higher in one state, and stable in 33 states and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Seventeen states had jobless rate decreases from a year earlier, and 33 states and the District of Columbia had little or no change. Over the year, 24 states added nonfarm payroll jobs, and 26 states and the District of Colombia were essentially unchanged.

·      Labor productivity declines were widespread among manufacturing industries in 2017, with decreases in 54 of the 86 four-digit industries, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of the 51 industries in durable manufacturing, 34 experienced productivity decreases in 2017. Nondurable manufacturing also experienced widespread declines in 2017 with productivity falling in 20 of 35 industries. Of the 4 industries in the mining sector, 3 had productivity gains in 2017.

·      The Conference Board index of leading economic indicators increased 0.3% in March, following an increase of 0.7% in the previous month. Over the six-month span through March, the leading index increased 4.3% (about an 8.8% annual rate). The Conference Board coincident economic index increased 0.2% in March, following a 0.4% increase as in the previous month. Over the six-month span through March, the coincident index increased 1.4% (about a 2.8% annual rate).

·      The FED’s “Beige Book” indicated that overall economic activity continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace across the 12 Federal Reserve Districts in March and early April.

·      The April Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicated that business activity grew at a solid pace in New York. The general business conditions index was 15.8 in April, compared with 22.5 in March. The prices paid index decreased 1.1 points, while the prices received index rose 3.1 points.

·      The Philadelphia FED business outlook survey for April reported continued growth in manufacturing activity in the region. The indicator for general activity, edged up to 23.2 in April, from 22.3 in March.

·      The federal government budget ran a deficit of $208.7 billion in March, following a deficit of $215.2 billion in the previous month. The cumulative budget deficit for the first six months of fiscal year 2018 was $599.7 billion, compared with a deficit of $526.9.4 billion for the same period of the previous fiscal year.

·      The import price index held steady in March, following a 0.3% increase in the previous month.  The export price index increased 0.3%, following a 0.2% increase in the previous month. Import prices increased 3.6% from March 2017 to March 2018, while export prices increased 3.4%.

·      The producer price index for final demand increased 0.3% in March, following an increase of 0.2% in the previous month. The core index – the producer price index for final demand less foods and energy – also increased 0.3% in March, following an increase of 0.2% in the previous month.  The producer price index for final demand increased 3.0% from March 2017 to March 2018, while the core index increased 2.7%.

·      The consumer price index (headline index) decreased 0.1% in March, following a 0.2% increase in the previous month. The core index increased 0.2%, the same increase as in the previous month. The consumer price index increased 2.4% for the 12-month period ending in March, while the core index rose 2.1%.

·      Real average hourly earnings for all employees increased 0.4% from February to March.This result stems from a 0.3% increase in average hourly earnings combined with a 0.1% decrease in the consumer price index.

·      The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 9 thousand to 242 thousand in the week ending April 7. The 4-week moving average was 230 thousand, an increase of 1.75 thousand from the previous week’s average.

·      The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average mortgage rates were virtually unchanged. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.42% for the week ending April 12, up from last week when it averaged 4.40%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.08%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.87% for the week ending April 12, the same as last week. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.34%.

·      Mortgage applications decreased 1.9% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending April 6th.

  • Total non-farm payroll employment edged up 103 thousand in March, following an increase of 326 thousand in the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private-sector payrolls increased by 102 thousand in the month, while government employment increased by a thousand. In March, employment grew in manufacturing, health care, and mining.
  • The unemployment rate held steady at 4.1% in March. The unemployment rate was 4.5% in March of 2017.
  • The average workweek of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls held steady at 34.5 hours. Average hourly earnings increased by 8 cents to $26.82. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 2.7%.
  • The labor force participation rate, at 62.9%, changed little in March, and the employment population ratio held at 60.4%.
  • the number of unemployed persons decreased by 121 thousand to 6.585 million. At 1.3 million, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed in March and accounted for 20.3% of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed was down by 338 thousand.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 24 thousand to 242 thousand in the week ending March 31. The 4-week moving average was 228.25 thousand, an increase of 3 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending March 24 was 1,808 thousand, a decrease of 64 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. This is the lowest level for insured unemployment since December 29, 1973 when it was 1,805 thousand. The 4-week moving average was 1,848.250 thousand a decrease of 13.5 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since January 5, 1974 when it was 1,838.5 thousand.
  • Unemployment rates were lower in February than a year earlier in 319 of the 388 metropolitan areas, higher in 48 areas, and unchanged in 21 areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In February, 313 metropolitan areas had year-over-year increases in nonfarm payroll employment, 69 had decreases, and 6 had no change.
  • Sales of domestic cars decreased 0.4% in March, while total light vehicle (cars and light trucks) sales increased 2.5%. Total light vehicle sales were 17.4 million units, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, compared to 17.1 million in January, and 16.7 million in March of 2017.
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased 1.2% in February, while shipments increased 0.2%. Unfilled orders increased 0.2% in February, while inventories increased 0.3%. Year-to-date new orders for manufactured goods were up 7.9%, and shipments were up 7.4% from the same period in 2017.
  • In February, international trade deficit was $57.6 billion, up $0.9 billion from $56.7 billion in January.  February exports were $204.4 billion, $3.5 billion more than January exports. February imports were $262.0 billion, $4.4 billion more than January imports. Year-to-date trade deficit increased $21.1 billion, or 22.7%, to $114.3 billion from the same period in 2017.
  • February construction spending was up 0.1% from the previous month, and was up 3.0% from February 2017, according to U.S. Census Bureau. Private construction increased 0.7% in February, while public construction decreased 2.1%.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving lower for the second consecutive week. 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.40% for the week ending April 5, down from a week earlier when it averaged 4.44%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.10%. 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.87%, down from last week when it averaged 3.90%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.36%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 3.3% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending March 30th.
  • The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing survey indicated that the manufacturing sector expanded in March, and the overall economy grew for the 107th 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 98th consecutive month. Fifteen non-manufacturing industries reported growth, while two industries reported contraction in March.