Key Economic Indicators – February 2, 2015

  • Real GDP increased at an annual rate of 2.6% in the fourth quarter of 2014, after increasing 5.0% in the previous quarter, according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Real final sales (GDP less change in private inventories) increased 1.8%.
  • The price index for gross domestic purchases decreased 0.3% in the fourth quarter, compared to an increase of 1.4% in the previous quarter.
  • Real GDP increased 2.4% in the year 2014, compared with an increase of 2.2% in 2013. The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 1.4% in 2014, compared with an increase of 1.3% in 2013.
  • New orders for manufactured durable goods decreased 3.4% in December, while shipments increased 1.1%. New orders were up 6.2% in the year 2014, while shipments were up 5.0%.
  • December new home sales were up11.6% from the previous month, and were up 8.8% from a year ago. The median sales price of new houses sold was $298.1 thousand, 8.2% above December 2013. An estimated 435 thousand new homes were sold in 2014, up 1.2% from the previous year.
  • The Pending Home Sales Index, a leading indicator for the housing sector, decreased 3.7% in December, according to the National Association of Realtors. The index was up 6.1% from December 2013.
  • The S & P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices for November showed a continued slowdown. The 10-city composite index gained 4.2% year-over-year, compared with 4.4% in October. The 20-city composite index increased 4.3% year-over-year, compared with an increase of 4.5% in October.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey of January 29th showed average fixed mortgage rates increasing slightly. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.66%, up from last week when it averaged 3.63%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 3.2% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending January 23, 2015.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 43 thousand to 265 thousand in the week ending January 24.This was the lowest level for initial claims since April 15, 2000 when it was 259 thousand. The 4-week moving average was 298.5 thousand, a decrease of 8.25 thousand from the previous week’s average.
  • The Employment Cost Index for total compensation rose 0.6%, seasonally adjusted, for the 3-month period ending December 2014. Compensation costs rose 2.2% for the 12-month period ending December 2014.
  • Regional and state unemployment rates were generally lower in December. Forty-two states and the District of Columbia had unemployment rate decreases from November, four states had increases, and four states had no change, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In December, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 41 states and decreased in 9 states and the District of Columbia.
  • The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index, which had increased in December, rose sharply in January.
  • The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment rose in January to its highest level in 11 years. The index was 98.1 in January, up from 93.6 from the previous month.
  • The Federal Open Market Committee decided to keep its target for the federal funds rate at 0 to 0.25%, and indicated that “economic conditions may, for some time, warrant keeping the target rate below levels the Committee views as normal in the longer run”.

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