Key Economic Indicators – January 22, 2018

·      Total Industrial production increased 0.9% in December, following a 0.1% decline in the previous month. The index was 3.6% above the level in December 2016. The manufacturing index was up 0.1% in December, while the index for utilities was up 5.6%. The index for mining was up 1.6% in December. Total Industrial production for the year 2017 was up 1.8% from the previous year.

·      The rate of capacity utilization for total industry was 77.9% in December, compared with 77.2 in November, and 79.9 as the average of the 1972-2016 period.

·      Finance and insurance, durable goods manufacturing, and information services were the leading contributors to the increase in U.S. economic growth in the third quarter of 2017, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. 18 of 22 industry groups contributed to the overall increase in real GDP in the third quarter.

·      Housing starts in December were down 8.2% from the previous month, and were down 6.0% from December 2016. The total number of starts for the year 2017 was up 2.4% from the previous year.  Building permits were down 0.1% from the previous month, but were up 2.8% from a year ago. Building permits for the year 2017 was up 4.7% from the previous year.

·      The housing market index of National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Wells Fargo decreased 2 points to 72 in January 2018, from 74 in the previous month. The Index was 67 in January of 2017.

·      The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey of January 18th showed average fixed mortgage rates rising for the second consecutive week. 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.04% for the week ending January 18th, up from last week when it averaged 3.99%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed rate averaged 4.09%. 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.49%, up from last week when it averaged 3.44%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed rate averaged 3.34%.

·      Mortgage applications increased 4.1% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending January 12th.

·      The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 41 thousand to 220 thousand in the week ending January 13. This is the lowest level for initial claims since February 24, 1973 when it was 218 thousand. The 4-week moving average was 244.50 thousand, a decrease of 6.25 thousand from the previous week’s average.

·      The FED’s “Beige Book” indicated that overall economic activity continued to expand across all regions from late November through the end of the year.

·      The January 2018 Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicated that business activity continued to grow at a solid clip in New York State.

·      The Philadelphia FED’s manufacturing business outlook survey for January 2018 reported that economic growth continued in the region.

·      The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment, preliminary, decreased to 94.4 in January, from 95.9 in December. The Index was 98.5 a year ago. The Current Economic Conditions Index decreased from 113.8 to 109.2, while the Index of Consumer Expectations inched up from 84.3 to 84.8.

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