Key Economic Indicators – March 27, 2017

  • New orders for manufactured durable goods increased 1.7% in February, following a 2.3% increase in the previous month. Shipments increased 0.3%, following a 0.1% decrease in the previous month. New orders were up 1.5% from February 2016, while shipments were down 1.2%. Year-to-date, new orders increased 1.6% from the same period a year ago, while shipments increased 1.2%.
  • The U.S. current account deficit decreased to $112.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2016 from $116.0 billion in the third quarter, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The deficit decreased to 2.4% of GDP in the final quarter of 2016, from 2.5% of GDP in the previous quarter. For the year 2016, the current account deficit was $481.2 billion, compared with $463.0 billion in 2015. The deficit was 2.6% of GDP in both 2015 and 2016.
  • February existing home sales decreased 3.7% to an annualized rate of 5,480 thousand units, according to the National Association of Realtors. The February figure was 5.4% above the February 2016 figure. There were 1,750 thousand homes for sale at the end of the month. This represents a supply of 3.8 months at the current sales rate, compared to 4.3 in February of 2016. The median sales price of existing homes sold was $228.4 thousand, 7.7% above February 2016.
  • February new home sales increased 6.1% to an annualized rate of 592 thousand units. The February figure was 12.8% above the February 2016 figure. The median sales price of new houses sold was $296.2 thousand, 4.9% below February 2016.
  • U.S. House prices held steady in January, following a 0.4% increase in the previous month, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA). For the 12 months ending in January, U.S. prices rose 5.7%.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving lower. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.23% for the week ending March 23, down from last week when it averaged 4.30%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 3.71%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 2.7% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending March 17th.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 15 thousand to 258 thousand in the week ending March 18. The 4-week moving average was 240 thousand, an increase of a thousand from the previous week’s average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending March 11 was 2,000 thousand, a decrease of 39 thousand from the previous week’s revised level.
  • The Chicago FED National Activity Index increased to positive 0.34 in February, from negative 0.02 in January. The index’s three-month moving average improved to 0.25 in February, from 0.07 in January.
  • The Chicago FED National Financial Conditions Index held steady at negative 0.78 in the week ending March 17. The risk sub-index edged down from the previous week, while the credit and leverage sub-indexes ticked up and the nonfinancial leverage sub-index was unchanged. A year ago, the Index was negative 0.66.

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