· New orders for manufactured durable goods decreased 1.7% in April, while shipments decreased 0.1%. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.9%, while shipments increased 1.0%. Year-to-date new orders were up 9.6% from the same period a year ago, while shipments were up 7.3%.
· April existing home sales decreased 2.5% to an annualized rate of 5,460 thousand units, according to the National Association of Realtors. The April figure was 1.4% below the April 2017 figure. There were 1,000 thousand homes for sale at the end of the month. This represents a supply of 4.0 months at the current sales rate, compared to 4.2 in April of 2017. The median sales price of existing homes sold was $257.9 thousand, 5.3% above April 2017.
· April new home sales decreased 1.5% to an annualized rate of 662 thousand units. The April figure was 11.6% above the April 2017 figure. The median sales price of new houses sold was $312.4 thousand, 0.4% above April 2017.
· U.S. house prices increased 0.1% in March, following a 0.8% increase in the previous month, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA). For the 12 months ending in March, U.S. house prices rose 6.7%. U.S. house prices in the first quarter of 2018, were up 1.7% from the previous quarter, and were up 6.9% from the first quarter of 2017.
· The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moved up over the past week to their highest level since May 5, 2011. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.66% for the week ending May 24, up from last week when it averaged 4.61%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year rate was 3.95%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.15%, up from last week when it averaged 4.08%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year rate averaged 3.19%.
· Mortgage applications decreased 2.6% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending May 18th.
· The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 11 thousand to 234 thousand in the week ending May 19. The 4-week moving average was 219.75 thousand, an increase of 6.25 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending May 12 was 1,741 thousand, an increase of 29 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 1,751.75 thousand, a decrease of 23.25 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since December 15, 1973 when it was 1,735.75 thousand.
· From December 2016 to December 2017, employment increased in 316 of the 346 largest U.S. counties, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Midland, Texas, had the largest percentage increase with a gain of 11.5% over the year, above the national job growth rate of 1.5%. The U.S. average weekly wage increased 3.9% over the year, growing to $1,109 in the fourth quarter of 2017. San Mateo, California, and Ada, Idaho, had the largest over-the-year percentage increases in average weekly wages, with gains of 11.5% each.
· The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment for May decreased to 98.0, from 98.8 in April. The Index was 97.1 in May of 2017. The Current Economic Conditions decreased to 111.8 in May, from 114.9 in April. The Index of Consumer Expectations increased to 89.1 in May, from 88.4 in April.
· The Chicago FED National Activity Index(CFNAI) increased to 0.34 in April, from 0.32 in March. The Index was 0.44 in April of 2017, and negative 0.35 in January of 2018. The index’s 3-month moving average increased to 0.46 in April from 0.23 in March.
· The Chicago Fed’s National Financial Conditions Index (NFCI) ticked down to negative 0.83 in the week ending May 18. The adjusted index (ANFCI), which removes the variation in the individual indicators attributable to economic activity and inflation, edged down to negative 0.58.