Key Economic Indicators – March 23, 2015

  • Total Industrial production increased 0.1% in February, after decreasing 0.3% in the previous month. Total Industrial production was up 3.5% from February 2014. The capacity utilization rate was 78.9 in February, 1.2 percentage points below the average for the 1972-2014 period. In February, manufacturing output decreased 0.2%, its third consecutive monthly decline.
  • Housing starts in February were 897 thousand, down 17.0% from the previous month and were down 3.3% from a year ago. Building permits in February were 1,092 thousand units, up 3.0% from January, and were up 7.7% from February 2014.
  • The housing market index of National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Wells Fargo decreased 2 points to 53 in March. The index was 46 in March of 2014, and 57 in January 2015.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving down from the previous week. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.78% for the week ending March 19, down from last week when it averaged 3.86%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year rate averaged 4.32%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 3.9% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending March 13th.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased a thousand to 291 thousand in the week ending March 14. The 4-week moving average was 304.75 thousand, an increase of 2.25 thousand from the previous week’s average.
  • The current account deficit increased to $113.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2014, from $98.9 billion in the previous quarter. The deficit increased to 2.6% of GDP, from 2.2% of GDP in the previous quarter. The current account deficit in the year 2014 was $410.6 billion, up from $400.3 billion in 2013.
  • The March Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicated that the conditions for New York manufacturers continued to expand at a modest pace.
  • The Philadelphia FED manufacturing business outlook survey for March reported that manufacturing activity in the region increased at a modest pace.
  • The Conference Board index of leading economic indicators increased 0.2% in February, following a 0.2% increase in January, and a 0.4% increase in December. The coincident index increased 0.2% in February, following a 0.2% increase in January, and a 0.3% increase in December.
  • The Federal Open Market Committee decided to keep its target for the federal funds rate at 0 to 0.25%. “The Committee currently anticipates that, even after employment and inflation are near mandate-consistent levels, economic conditions may, for some time, warrant keeping the target federal funds rate below levels the Committee views as normal in the longer run.”

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