Last Week in the News

Economic News Update

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city housing price index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3% in December. It was the seventh consecutive monthly gain and follows a 0.2% increase in November.

The consumer confidence index fell to 46 in February from an upwardly revised 56.5 in January. Economists had anticipated a reading of 55. The index was benchmarked at 100 in 1985, a year chosen because it was neither a peak nor a trough in consumer confidence.

The Commerce Department reported new home sales fell 11.2% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 309,000 units from a rate of 342,000 units in December. Economists had expected a pace of 354,000.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose by 22,000 to 496,000 in the week ending February 20. Continuing claims for the week ending February 13 rose by 6,000 to 4.617 million.

Orders for durable goods — items expected to last three or more years — rose 3% in January after a revised 1.9% increase in December. Excluding volatile transportation-related goods, orders posted a monthly decrease of 0.6%.

Existing home sales fell 7.2% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.05 million units from 5.44 million units in December. The inventory of unsold homes on the market fell 0.5% to 3.27 million, a 7.8-month supply at the current sales pace, up from a 7.2-month supply in December and a 6.5-month supply in November.

The Commerce Department announced that gross domestic product — the total output of goods and services produced in the U.S. — increased at an annual rate of 5.9% in the fourth quarter of 2009, rather than the 5.7% increase initially reported last month.

Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on construction spending on March 1, and factory orders and pending home sales on March 4.

 

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