Key Economic Indicators – January 25, 2016

  • Retail trade, health care and social assistance, and agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting were the leading contributors to the increase in U.S. economic growth in the third quarter, according to statistics on gross domestic product by industry released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. 15 of 22 industry groups contributed to the 2.0% growth in real GDP in the third quarter. Finance and insurance was the leading contributor to the deceleration in real GDP growth (2.0% in the third quarter, compared with 3.9% in the second quarter).
  • Housing starts in December were down 2.5% from the previous month, but were up 6.4 from December 2014. Building permits were down 3.9% from the previous month, but were up 14.4% from December 2014. The total number of starts for the year 2015 was up 10.8% from the previous year, while building permits were up 12.0%. 
  • December existing home sales increased 14.7% to an annualized rate of 5,460 thousand units, according to the National Association of Realtors. There were 1,790 thousand homes for sale at the end of the month. This represents a supply of 3.9 months at the current sales rate, compared to 4.4 in December of 2014. The median sales price of existing houses sold was $224.1 thousand, 7.6% above December 2014.
  • The housing market index of National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Wells Fargo held steady at 60 in January. The index was 57 in January 2015.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey of January 21st showed average fixed mortgage rates moving lower for the third consecutive week. 30-year fixed-rate averaged 3.81% for the week ending January 21, down from last week when it averaged 3.92%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 3.63%. 15-year fixed-rate averaged 3.10%, down from last week when it averaged 3.19%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 2.93%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 9.0% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending January 15th.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 10 thousand to 293 thousand in the week ending January 16. The 4-week moving average was 285 thousand, an increase of 6.5 thousand from the previous week’s average.
  • Real average hourly earnings for all employees rose 0.1% from November to December. This result stems from no change in average hourly earnings combined with a 0.1% decrease in the consumer price index.
  • The consumer price index (headline index), which held steady in November, decreased 0.1% in December. The core index increased 0.1% in December, following a 0.2% increase in the previous month. The consumer price index increased 0.7% for the 12-month period ending in December, while the core index rose 2.1%.
  • The Conference Board index of leading economic indicators decreased 0.2% in December, following a 0.5% increase in the previous month. Over the six-month span through December, the leading index increased 0.7%, with five out of ten components advancing. The coincident index increased 0.1%, the same increase as in the previous month. Over the six-month span through December, the coincident index increased 1.1%, with three out of four components advancing.
  • The Philadelphia FED business outlook survey for January reported that manufacturing conditions in the region contracted modestly.

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