• New orders for manufactured durable goods decreased 2.1% in April, while shipments decreased 1.6%. Excluding transportation, new orders increased less than 0.1%, while shipments decreased 0.2%. Year-to-date new orders were up 2.0% from the same period a year ago, while shipments were up 4.1%.
  • April existing home sales decreased 0.4% to an annualized rate of 5,190 thousand units, according to the National Association of Realtors. The April figure was 4.4% below the April 2018 figure. There were 1,830 thousand homes for sale at the end of the month. This represents a supply of 4.2 months at the current sales rate, compared to 4.0 in April of 2018. The median sales price of existing homes sold was $267.3 thousand, 3.6% above April 2018.
  • April new home sales decreased 6.9% to an annualized rate of 673 thousand units. The April figure was 7.0% above the April 2018 figure. The median sales price of new houses sold was $342.2 thousand, 8.8% above April 2018.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates were little changed. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.06% for the week ending May 23, down from last week when it averaged 4.07%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year rate was 4.66%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.51%, down from last week when it averaged 3.53%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year rate averaged 4.15%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 2.4% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending May 17th.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased a thousand to 211 thousand in the week ending May 18. The 4-week moving average was 220.25 thousand, a decrease of 4.75 thousand from the previous week’s unrevised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending May 11 was 1,676 thousand, an increase of 12 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 1,674.25 thousand, an increase of 5.5 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
  • From December 2017 to December 2018, employment increased in 296 of the 349 largest U.S. counties, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Midland, Texas, had the largest percentage increase with a gain of 10.0% over the year, above the national job growth rate of 1.5%. The U.S. average weekly wage increased 3.2% over the year, growing to $1,144 in the fourth quarter of 2018. Tippecanoe, IN, had the largest fourth quarter over-the-year wage gain at 15.1%.
  • Labor productivity rose in 18 of 28 selected service-providing industries in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Output increased in 21 industries in 2018, while hours worked increased in 15 industries. Productivity gains of at least 7.0% occurred in 4 industries: natural gas distribution (13.5%), dry-cleaning and laundry services (10.9%), wireless telecommunications carriers (10.1%), and travel arrangement and reservation services (7.3%). In all 4 of these industries, output increases coincided with declines in hours worked.

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