Key Economic Indicators – May 2, 2016

  • Real GDP increased at an annual rate of 0.5% in the first quarter of 2016, according to the “advance” estimate by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter of 2015, real GDP increased 1.4%.
  • The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 0.3% in the first quarter of 2016, compared with an increase of 0.4% in the previous quarter.
  • Real final sales of domestic product (GDP less change in private inventories) increased 0.9% in the first quarter, in contrast to an increase of 1.6% in the final quarter of 2015.
  • Personal income increased 0.4% in March, while personal consumption expenditures increased 0.1%. Real disposable personal income increased 0.3% in March, while real personal consumption expenditures were virtually unchanged. The personal saving rate – personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income – was 5.4% in March, compared with 5.1% in February
  • The price index for personal consumption expenditures increased 0.1% in March, following a 0.1% decrease in the previous month. The core index increased 0.1%, following a 0.2% increase in the previous month. The price index (headline index) was up 0.8% from March 2015, while the core index was up 1.6%.
  • New orders for manufactured durable goods increased 0.8% in March, while shipments decreased 0.5%. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 0.2%, while shipments increased 0.2%. Year-to-date new orders were up 1.4% from the same period a year ago, while shipments were up 0.9%.
  • March new home sales were down 1.5% from the previous month, but were up 5.4% from March 2015. The median sales price of new houses sold was $288.0 thousand, 1.8% below March 2015.
  • The Pending Home Sales Index increased 1.4% to a reading of 110.5 in March, according to the National Association of Realtors. The index was 1.4% above March 2015 level.
  • The S & P/Case-Shiller National U.S. Home Price Index for February indicated that home prices continued their rise across the country over the last 12 months. The U.S. National Index recorded a 5.3% annual gain in February, unchanged from the previous month. As of February 2016, average home prices are back to their winter 2007 levels, and are approximately 11-13% below their June/July 2006 peaks.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving higher. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.66% for the week ending April 28, up from last week when it averaged 3.59%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year rate was 3.68%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.89%, up from last week when it averaged 2.85%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year rate was 2.94%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 4.1% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending April 22nd.
  • The Employment Cost Index for total compensation rose 0.6%, seasonally adjusted, for the 3-month period ending March 2016, following a 0.5% increase for the 3–month period ending December 2015. Compensation costs for private industry workers increased 1.8% for the 12-month period ending March 2016, while compensation costs for state and local government workers increased 2.4%.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 9 thousand to 257 thousand in the week ending April 23. The 4-week moving average was 256 thousand, a decrease of 4.75 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since December 8, 1973 when it was 252.25 thousand.
  • Unemployment rates were lower in March than a year earlier in 270 of the 387 metropolitan areas, higher in 98 areas, and unchanged in 19 areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 332 metropolitan areas, decreased in 51 areas, and was unchanged in 4 areas.
  • The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index, which had increased in March, decreased in April. The index now stands at 94.2 (1985=100), down from 96.1 in March. The present situation index increased to 116.4, while the expectations index decreased to 79.3 in April.
  • The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment for April decreased to 89, from 91 in March. All of the April decline was in the Expectations component, which decreased from 81.5 to 77.6.
  • The Federal Open Market Committee decided to keep its target for the federal funds rate at 0.25% to 0.50%. This accommodative monetary policy is to support further improvement labor market conditions and a return to 2% inflation.



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