Last Week in the News

The index of leading economic indicators — designed to forecast economic activity in the next three to six months — rose a better-than-expected 1.1% in December after a revised 1% gain in November. It was the ninth straight monthly increase.

The Commerce Department reported that the combined construction of new single-family homes and apartments in December fell 4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 557,000 units. However, applications for new building permits, seen as an indicator of future activity, jumped 10.9% to 653,000 units, the highest level since October 2008.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage applications for the week ending January 15 rose 9.1% to 575.9. Purchase volume increased 4.4% to 223. Refinancing applications jumped 11% to 2663.8.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo housing market index fell one point in January to 15. It was the second monthly drop in the index and the lowest reading since June. An index reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market.

The producer price index, which tracks wholesale price inflation, rose 0.2% in December, following a 1.8% increase in November. Economists had expected a gain of 0.1%.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose by 36,000 to 482,000 in the week ending January 16. Continuing claims for the week ending January 9 fell by 18,000 to 4.599 million.

Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on existing home sales on January 25, the housing price index on January 26, new home sales on January 27 and gross domestic product on January 29.

Anthony Crecco
   The Crecco Companies


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