Key Economic Indicators – March 2, 2015

  • Real GDP increased at an annual rate of 2.2% in the fourth quarter of 2014, after a 5.0% increase in the previous quarter. In the “advance” estimate, released a month ago, real GDP increased 2.6%. The price index for gross domestic purchases decreased 0.1% in the final 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.
  • New orders for manufactured durable goods increased 2.8% in January while shipments decreased 1.1%.
  • January existing home sales were down 4.9% from the previous month, but were up 3.2% from January 2014. The median sales price of existing houses sold was $199.6 thousand, 6.2% above January 2014.
  • January new home sales were down 0.2% from December, but were up 5.3% from January of 2014. The median sales price of new houses sold was $294.3 thousand, 9.1% above January 2014.
  • U.S. House prices rose 0.8% on a seasonally adjusted basis from November to December, after a 0.7% increase in the previous period, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) monthly House Price Index. For the 12 months ending in December, U.S. prices rose 5.4%.
  • The S & P/Case-Shiller National U.S. Home Price Index posted an annual increase of 4.6% in December, compared with a 4.7% increase in November. The index is approximately 16-17% below the June/July 2006 peak,
  • The Pending Home Sales Index, a leading indicator for the housing sector, increased 1.7% to a reading of 104.2 in January, its highest level since August 2013, according to the National Association of Realtors. The index was up 8.4% from January of 2014.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving higher, but remain near their May 2013 lows.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 3.5% from a week earlier week, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending February 20.
  • The consumer price index (headline index) declined 0.7% in January, following a 0.3% decrease in the previous month. The core index, which held steady in December, increased 0.2%. The consumer price index decreased 0.1% for the 12-month period ending in January, while the core index rose 1.6%.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 31 thousand to 313 thousand in the week ending February 21. The 4-week moving average was 294.50, an increase of 11.5 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
  • Real average hourly earnings for all employees increased 1.2% from December to January.  This stems from a 0.5% increase in average hourly earnings combined with a 0.7% decrease in the consumer price index for all urban consumers.
  • The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index, which had increased in January, declined in February.
  • The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment decreased to 95.4 in February, from 98.1 in January. The index, which was 81.6 in February 2014, is still at its highest levels in eight years.

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