• Advance estimates of retail and food services sales for March were up 1.6% from February and were up 3.6% from March 2018. Excluding motor vehicle & parts, retail sales in March were up 1.2% from the previous month and were up 3.6% from a year ago. Year-to-date, retail sales were up 2.9% from the same period a year ago.
  • Total manufacturing and trade sales for February were up 0.1% from January and were up 2.4% from February 2018.  Total business inventories for February were up 0.3% from the previous month and were up 4.9% from a year ago.
  • February sales of merchant wholesalers were up 0.3% from the previous month and were up 2.1% from a year ago. Inventories for February were up 0.2% from the previous month and were up 6.9% from a year ago. The February inventories/sales ratio was 1.35, compared with 1.29 in February 2018.
  • Total Industrial production decreased 0.1% in March following a 0.1% increase in the previous month. The index was 2.8% above its March 2018 level.
  • Capacity utilization for the industrial sector edged down 0.2 percentage point in March to 78.8, a rate that is 1.0 percentage point below its long-run (1972-2018) average, but 0.6 percentage point above March 2018 level.
  • Real GDP increased 2.2% in the fourth quarter. Growth was relatively widespread, with 15 of 22 industry groups contributing to the increase. Wholesale trade, mining, and information were the leading contributors to the increase in real GDP. Real GDP increased 2.9% in the year 2018.  The private goods‐ and services‐producing sectors, as well as the government sector, contributed to the increase. Growth was widespread, with 19 of 22 industry groups contributing to the increase. Information; professional, scientific, and technical services; and durable goods manufacturing were the leading contributors to the increase in real GDP
  • The international trade deficit was $49.4 billion in February, down $1.8 billion from $51.1 billion in January, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  Exports of goods and services for February were $209.7 billion, $2.3 billion more than January exports. Imports of goods and services for February were $259.1 billion, $0.6 billion more than January imports.
  • Housing starts in March were down 0.3% from the previous month and were down 14.2% from a year ago. Building permits were down 1.7% from the previous month and were down 7.8% from a year ago.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed that average fixed mortgage rates rising for the third consecutive week. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.17% for the week ending April 18, up from last week when it averaged 4.12%. A year ago this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 4.47%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.62%, up from last week when it averaged 3.60%. A year ago this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 3.94%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 3.5% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending April 12th.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 5 thousand to 192 thousand in the week ending April 13. This is the lowest level for initial claims since September 6, 1969 when it was 182 thousand. The 4-week moving average was 201.25 thousand, a decrease of 6 thousand from the previous week’s average. This is the lowest level for this average since November 1, 1969 when it was 200.5 thousand.
  • Unemployment rates were lower in March in 6 states, higher in 3 states, and stable in 41 states and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Four states had jobless rate decreases from a year earlier, 2 states had increases, and 44 states and the District of Columbia had little or no change. Over the year, 22 states added nonfarm payroll jobs, and 28 states and the District of Colombia were essentially unchanged.
  • Median weekly earnings of the nation’s 116.1 million full-time wage and salary workers were $905 in the first quarter of 2019 (not seasonally adjusted), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This was 2.7% higher than a year earlier, compared with a gain of 1.6% in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) over the same period.
  • In 2018, 5.2% of families included an unemployed person, down from 5.8% in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of the nation’s 82.5 million families, 80.8% had at least one employed member in 2018.
  • The Conference Board index of leading economic indicators increased 0.4% in March, following an increase of 0.1% in the previous month. Over the six-month span through March, the leading index increased 0.4% (about an 0.7% annual rate). The Conference Board coincident economic index increased 0.1% in March, the same increase as in the previous month. Over the six-month span through March, the coincident index increased 1.0% (about a 1.9% annual rate).
  • The FED’s “Beige Book” indicated that overall economic activity expanded at a slight-to-moderate pace in March and early April.
  • The April Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicated that business activity grew modestly in New York. The general business conditions index was 10.1 in April, compared with 3.7 in March. The prices paid index decreased 6.8 points, while the prices received index decreased 4.1 points.
  • The Philadelphia FED business outlook survey for April reported continued growth in manufacturing activity in the region. The indicator for general activity, decreased to 8.5 in April, from 13.7 in March. The prices paid index rose to 21.6, while prices received index decreased to 20.0.

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