Key Economic Indicators – May 22, 2017

·      Total Industrial production increased 1.0% in April, following a 0.4% increase in the previous month. The index was up 2.2% from April 2016. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector increased 0.6 percentage point in April to 76.7, a rate that is 3.2 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2016) average.

·      Housing starts in April decreased 2.6% from the previous month, but increased 0.7% from a year ago. Building permits in April decreased 2.5% from March, but increased 5.7% from April 2016.

·      The housing market index of National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Wells Fargo rose to 70 in May, from 68 in April. The Index was 67 in January and 58 in May of 2016.

·      The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving slightly lower. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 4.02% for the week ending May 18, down from last week when it averaged 4.05%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 3.58%. The 15-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.27%, down from last week when it averaged 3.29%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 2.81%.

·      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 May 12th.

·      Advance selected services total revenue for the first quarter of 2017 decreased 1.2% from the fourth quarter of 2016, but increased 6.4% from the first quarter of 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 

·      The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 4 thousand to 232 thousand in the week ending May 13. The 4-week moving average was 240.75 thousand, a decrease of 2.75 thousand from the previous week’s average.

·      Labor productivity rose in 17 of 28 selected service-providing industries in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This was greater than in 2015, when labor productivity increased in 14 of 28 industries. On the other hand, unit labor costs declined in 5 industries in 2016.

·      The Philadelphia FED business outlook survey for May indicated that region’s manufacturing activity continued to expand this month. The Index was 38.8 in May, up from 22.0 in April. This was the 10th consecutive month that the index was positive.

·      The May Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicated that manufacturing activity leveled off in New York State. The general business conditions index decreased six points to negative 1.0.

·      The Conference Board’s leading economic indicators increased 0.3% again in April, fueled by positive contributions from all its components except for building permits and stock prices. In the six-month period ending April 2017, the leading economic index increased 2.4% (about a 4.9% annual rate), well above the growth of 0.7% (about a 1.5% annual rate) during the previous six months. The Conference Board’s coincident economic index, increased 0.3% in April. The coincident economic index rose 1.1 percent (about a 2.1% annual rate) between October 2016 and April 2017, about the same rate as it did over the previous six months.

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