Last Week in the News

Retail sales rose 0.8% to $411.1 billion in March. This follows a downwardly revised 1% increase in February. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales increased 6.5%.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo monthly housing market index fell three points in April to 25 from a reading of 28 in March. It was the first drop after seven consecutive monthly gains. An index reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending April 13 rose 6.9%. Refinancing applications increased 13.5%. Purchase volume fell 11.2%.

The combined construction of new single-family homes and apartments in March fell 5.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 654,000 units, after a decrease of 2.8% in February. Compared to a year ago, housing starts are up 10.3%. Applications for new building permits, seen as an indicator of future activity, rose 4.5% to an annual rate of 747,000 units.

Existing home sales fell 2.6% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.48 million units from an upwardly revised 4.6 million units in February. The inventory of unsold homes on the market decreased 1.3% to 2.37 million, a 6.3-month supply at the current sales pace.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending April 14 fell by 2,000 to 386,000. Continuing claims for the week ending April 7 rose by 26,000 to 3.29 million.

Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on new home sales on April 24, pending home sales on April 26 and gross domestic product on April 27.