• The U.S. current-account deficit decreased to $130.4 billion (preliminary) in the first quarter of 2019 from $143.9 billion (revised) in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).  The deficit decreased to 2.5% of current-dollar gross domestic product (GDP) from 2.8% in the previous quarter. The $13.5 billion decrease in the current-account deficit mostly reflected a decrease in the in the deficit on goods that was partly offset by an increase in the deficit on secondary income.
  • May existing home sales increased 2.5% to an annualized rate of 5,340 thousand units. The May figure was 1.1% below the May 2018 figure. There were 1,920 thousand homes for sale at the end of the month. This represents a supply of 4.3 months at the current sales rate, compared to 4.2 in May of 2018. The median sales price of existing houses sold was $277.7 thousand, 4.8% above May 2018.
  • Housing starts in May were down 0.9% from the previous month and were down 4.7% from a year ago. Year-to-date, housing starts were down 5.3% from the same period a year ago. Building permits were up 0.3% from the previous month but were down 0.5% from May 2018. Year-to-date, building permits were down 3.0% from the same period a year ago.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates have stabilized. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.84% for the week ending June 20, up from last week when it averaged 3.82%. A year ago this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 4.57%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.25% for the week ending June 20, down from last week when it averaged 3.26%. A year ago this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 4.04%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 3.4% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending June 14th.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 5 thousand to 216 thousand in the week ending June 15. The 4-week moving average was 218.75 thousand, an increase of a thousand from the previous week’s average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending June 8 was 1,662 thousand, a decrease of 37 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 1,679 thousand, a decrease of 5.25 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
  • Unemployment rates were lower in May in 6 states, higher in 2 states, and stable in 42 states and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Five states had jobless rate decreases from a year earlier, 1 state had an increase, and 44 states and the District had little or no change. Nonfarm payroll employment increased in 1 state in May and was essentially unchanged in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Over the year, 24 states added nonfarm payroll jobs and 26 states and the District of Columbia were essentially unchanged.
  • Employer costs for employee compensation for civilian workers averaged $36.77 per hour worked in March 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wages and salaries cost employers $25.22 while benefit costs were $11.55. Total compensation costs for civilian workers were $12.71 at the 10th wage percentile, $27.87 at the 50th (median) wage percentile, and $72.62 at the 90th wage percentile. Total employer compensation costs for private industry workers averaged $34.49 per hour worked. Wages and salaries averaged $24.17 per hour worked and accounted for 70.1% of employer costs. Benefit costs averaged $10.33 per hour worked and accounted for the remaining 29.9%. Median employer costs per employee hour worked were $17.64 for wages and salaries and $7.57 for benefits. State and local government worker compensation costs for employers averaged $50.89 per hour worked in March 2019. Wages and salaries averaged $31.75 and accounted for 62.4% of employer costs, while benefit costs averaged $19.14 and accounted for 37.6%.
  • The June 2019 Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicated that business activity took a sharp turn downward for New York manufacturers. The headline (general business conditions) index decreased from 17.8 in May to negative 8.6 in June. The prices paid index edged up 1.6 points to 27.8 in June, and the prices received index decreased 5.6 points to 6.8.
  • The PhiladelphiaFEDbusiness outlook survey reported that manufacturing activity in the region weakened in June. The general business activity index decreased from 16.6 in May to 0.3 in June. The prices paid index decreased from 23.2 in May to 12.9 in June, while prices received index decreased from 17.5 to 0.6.
  • The Conference Board index of leading economic indicators held steady in May, following an increase of 0.1% in the previous month. Over the six-month span through May, the leading index increased 0.3% (about a 0.5% annual rate), with five out of ten components advancing. The Conference Board coincident economic index increased 0.2% in May, following a 0.1% increase in the previous month. Over the six-month span through May, the coincident index increased 0.7%% (about a 1.3% annual rate), with three out of four components advancing.
  • The Federal Open Market Committee decided to keep its target range for the federal funds rate at 2.25% to 2.50%. “The Committee continues to view sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions, and inflation near the Committee’s symmetric 2 percent objective as the most likely outcomes, but uncertainties about this outlook have increased. In light of these uncertainties and muted inflation pressures, the Committee will closely monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook and will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion, with a strong labor market and inflation near its symmetric 2 percent objective.”

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