Key Economic Indicators – April 17, 2017

·      Advance estimates of retail and food services sales for March were down 0.2% from February, but were up 5.2% from March 2016. Excluding motor vehicle & parts, retail sales in March were virtually unchanged from the previous month, and were up 5.0% from a year ago, Year-to-date, retail sales were up 3.9% from the same period a year ago.

·      Total manufacturing and trade sales for February were up 0.2% from January, and were up 7.1% from February 2016.  Total business inventories for February were up 0.3% from the previous month, and were up 2.8% from a year ago.

·      The federal government budget ran a deficit of $176.2 billion in March, following a deficit of $192.0 billion in the previous month. The cumulative budget deficit for the first six months of fiscal year 2017 was $526.9 billion, compared with a deficit of $459.4 billion for the same period of the previous fiscal year.

·      The import price index decreased 0.2% in March, while export prices increased 0.2%. Import prices increased 4.2% from March 2016 to March 2017, while export prices increased 3.6%.

·      The producer price index for final demand decreased 0.1% in March, following an increase of 0.3% in the previous month. The producer price index for final demand increased 2.3% from March 2016 to March 2017.

·      The consumer price index (headline index) decreased 0.3% in March, following a 0.1% increase in the previous month. The core index decreased 0.1%, following a 0.2% increase in the previous month. The consumer price index increased 2.4% for the 12-month period ending in March, while the core index rose 2.0%.

·      Real average hourly earnings for all employees increased 0.5% from February to March. This result stems from a 0.2% increase in average hourly earnings combined with a 0.3% decrease in the consumer price index.

·      The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased a thousand to 234 thousand in the week ending April 8. The 4-week moving average was 247.25 thousand, a decrease of 3 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.

·      The number of job openings was little changed at 5.7 million on the last business day of February, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the month, hires and separations were also little changed at 5.3 million and 5.1 million, respectively.

·      The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving lower. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.08% for the week ending April 13, down from last week when it averaged 4.10%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.58%.

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