• Real GDP increased at an annual rate of 2.6% in the fourth quarter of 2018, after increasing 3.4% in the previous quarter, according to the “initial” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  • Real final sales of domestic product increased 2.5%, following a 1.0% increase in the previous quarter.
  • The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 1.6% in the fourth quarter, compared to an increase of 1.8% in the previous quarter.  The price index for personal consumption expenditures increased 1.5%, compared with an increase of 1.6%. Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for personal consumption expenditures increased 1.7%, following an increase of 1.6% in the previous quarter.
  • Real GDP increased 2.9% in 2018, compared with an increase of 2.2% in 2017. Current-dollar GDP increased 5.2%, or $1.02 trillion, in 2018 to a level of $20.5 trillion, compared with an increase of 4.2 percent, or $778.2 billion, in 2017.
  • The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.2% in 2018, compared with an increase of 1.9% in 2017. The price index for personal consumption expenditures increased 2.0%, compared with an increase of 1.8%. Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for personal consumption expenditures increased 1.9%, compared with an increase of 1.6% in 2017.
  • Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased in 49 states and the District of Columbia in the third quarter of 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.  The percent change in real GDP in the third quarter ranged from 5.8% in Washington to 0.0% in West Virginia.
  • Personal income decreased 0.1% in January, following a 1.0% increase in the previous month. Disposable personal income decreased 0.2%, following a 1.1% increase in the previous month.  In December, personal disposable income increased 1.1%, and personal consumption expenditures decreased 0.5%. The price index for personal consumption expenditures increased 0.1% in December, while the core index increased 0.2%. The price index (headline index) was up 1.7% from December 2017 to December 2018, while the core index was up 1.9%. BEA stated that “Due to the recent partial government shutdown, this report combines estimates for December 2018 and January 2019. December estimates include both income and outlays measures, while January estimates are limited to personal income. Estimates of outlays for January are unavailable due to a delay in the release of the Census Bureau’s Advance Monthly Retail Sales.”
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased 0.1% in December while shipments decreased 0.1%. New orders increased 7.4% in the year 2018, while shipments increased 7.0%. Inventories increased 3.5% in 2018, and unfilled orders increased 3.8%.
  • Retail inventories for December were up 0.9% from November 2018, and were up 3.9% from December 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Wholesale inventories for December were up 1.1% from November 2018, and were up 7.3% from December 2017.
  • The international trade deficit of goods was $79.5 billion in December, up $9.0 billion from $70.5 billion in November. Exports of goods for December decreased $4.0 billion to $135.7 billion, and imports of goods increased $5.0 billion to $215.2 billion.
  • Privately-owned housing starts in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,078 thousand, 11.2% below the November figure, and 10.9% below the December 2017 level.
  • The S & P Corelogic Case-Shiller National U.S. Home Price Index posted a 4.7% annual gain in December, down from 5.1% in the previous month. The 10-city Composite index increased 3.8% from a year ago, while the 20-city composite index increased 4.2%.
  • U.S. house prices rose 1.1% in the fourth quarter of 2018 according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index (HPI). House prices rose 5.7% from the fourth quarter of 2017 to the fourth quarter of 2018. FHFA’s seasonally adjusted monthly index for December was up 0.3%from November.
  • The Pending Home Sales Index, a leading indicator for the housing sector, increased 4.6% to a reading of 103.2 in January, according to the National Association of Realtors. The index was down 2.3% from January 2018.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed mortgage rates remained mostly unchanged this week. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.35% for the week ending February 28, unchanged from last week. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.43%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.77%, down from last week when it averaged 3.78%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.90%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 5.3% from a week earlier week, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending February 22nd.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 8 thousand to 225 thousand in the week ending February 23. The 4-week moving average was 229 thousand, a decrease of 7 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending February 16 was 1,805 thousand, an increase of 79 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 1,761.75 thousand, an increase of 6.750 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
  • In 2018, annual average unemployment rates decreased in 25 states, increased in one state and were little changed or unchanged in 24 states and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment-population ratios increased in 9 states, decreased in 1 state, and little changed or unchanged in 40 states and the District of Columbia.
  • The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had decreased in January, increased in February. The Index now stands at 131.4 (1985=100), up from 121.7 in January. The Present Situation Index rose from 170.2 to 173.5, and the Expectations Index increased from 89.4 to 103.4.
  • The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment for February was 93.8, down from 91.2 in January. The Index was 99.7 in February 2018. The Current Economic Conditions Index decreased from 108.8 in January to 108.5 in February, while the Index of Consumer Expectations increased from 79.9 to 84.4.
  • The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing survey indicated that the manufacturing sector expanded in February, and the overall economy grew for the 118th consecutive month.
  • The Chicago Fed’s National Activity Index decreased to negative 0.43 in January, from positive 0.05 in December. The index’s three-month moving average decreased to a neutral reading in January from positive 0.16 in December. The Diffusion Index, which is also a three-month moving average, decreased slightly to 0.09 in January from 0.18 in December. Thirty-five of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the Diffusion index in January, while 50 made negative contributions.
  • The Chicago Fed’s National Financial Conditions Index ticked down to negative 0.87 in the week ending February 22. Risk indicators contributed negative 0.37, credit indicators contributed negative 0.34, and leverage indicators contributed negative 0.15 to the index in the latest week.

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