Existing Homes Sales

Existing home sales increased in March for the second consecutive month, however inventory shortages continue to be an issue, as home sales continue to fall below last year’s levels. Existing home sales increased 1.1 percent on a monthly basis in March; from 5.54 million in February to 5.60 million in March. Even though the overall economy has improved there has been a 7.2 percent decline in listings from a year ago to a level of just 1.67 million homes.

S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller HPI

The February S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller composite home price index revealed an overall increase of 6.80 percent on a yearly basis; following the revised 6.43 year on year increase seen in January, this is well above economists’ predictions of a 6.35 percent year on year increase. On a seasonally adjusted basis the index increased 0.83 percent on a month to month basis, compared to January’s 0.81 percent month to month reading seen in January.

FHFA House Price Index

In the month of February the FHFA reported prices rose up 0.6 percent from January. The previously reported 0.8 percent increase in January was revised upward to 0.9 percent. From February 2017 to February 2018 house prices were up 7.2 percent.

New Home Sales

March’s new home sales came in at 694,000, up 4.0% from last month from a revised 667,000 in February. This is also above March 2017’s result of 638,000.

Consumer Confidence

US consumer confidence unexpectedly rose in April to the second highest level since 2000, as Americans have grown more upbeat about both the current conditions and the economic outlook. The confidence index rose 128.7 from 127 in March, it beat economists’ expectations of 126. The present conditions component measured 15.9 from the previous month of 158.1. The consumer expectations rose to 108.1 in April from March’s 106.2.

Durable Goods Orders

Orders for long lasting manufactured goods rose 2.6 percent in March but a key category that tracks business investment spending fell for the third month out of the last four. The big rise in orders for durable goods followed an even bigger 3.5% advance in February, being driven by a surge in demand for commercial aircraft; as airplane orders shot up 44.5 percent last month The category that follows business investment plans edged down 0.1 percent in March after a 0.9 percent increase in February.

International Trade in Goods

The US international trade in goods is healthy as export growth and falling imports led to the largest narrowing of the goods trade deficit in two and a half years. Declines in imports outweighed export growth, signaling softer conditions for freight movements. The US economy’s goods deficit narrowed in March to -$68 billion on a seasonally adjusted basis from $75.9 billion in the previous month. This increase ends a streak of six consecutive months of widening deficits. Goods exported were particularly strong in the month, rising nearly two and half percent for the second straight month. Goods exports are now 10.7 percent higher than at this time last year, marking the fastest pace of year on year growth since the end of 2011. Imports fell for the second time in the past three months as the year on year growth fell 8.7 percent.

Jobless Claims

New applications for US unemployment benefits dropped to their lowest level in more than 48 years last week, this suggests that March’s slowdown in job growth was probably only temporary. Initial claims for the unemployment benefits fell 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 209,000 for the week ending April 21st, this is the lowest level since December 1969. Data for the prior week was revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported.

GDP

The US economy grew faster than expected in the first quarter of 2018. GDP increased at an annualized rate of 2.3 percent down from 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017; but higher than the estimated growth of only 2 percent. Consumer spending, the biggest contributor to the economy slowed to 1.1 percent growth rate from 4 percent in the fourth quarter. But this negative was partly offset by strong business investment.

Employment Cost Index

The employment cost index came in at a +0.8 percent vs. economists predictions of 0.7 percent. This is up from last month when the index was at 0.6 percent. The US disposable income was up 3.4 percent which is the biggest jump since 2015. Wages and salaries were also up from 0.5 percent to 0.9 percent. These increases are a sign of wage inflation picking up.