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Economic Update - April 4, 2011

posted Apr 6, 2011, 2:08 PM by Svetlana Raleigh

Pending home sales, a forward-looking indicator based on signed contracts, rose 2.1% in February after a revised 2.8% decrease in January. On a year-over-year basis, pending sales are down 9.3%.

Retail sales rose 0.2% for the week ending March 26, according to the ICSC-Goldman Sachs index. On a year-over-year basis, retailers saw sales increase 2.6%.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city housing price index — on a non-seasonally adjusted basis — fell 1% in January after a 1% decrease in December. On a year-over-year basis, prices fell 3.1% compared with January 2010.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending March 25 fell 7.5%. Refinancing applications decreased 10.1%. Purchase volume fell 1.7%.

Factory orders fell 0.1% in February to a seasonally adjusted $446 billion, following an upwardly revised 3.3% increase in January. Excluding the volatile transportation sector, orders rose 0.1%.

The Institute for Supply Management reported that the monthly composite index of manufacturing activity fell slightly to 61.2 in March after reaching 61.4 in February. A reading above 50 signals expansion. It was the 20th straight month of expansion.

Total construction spending fell 1.4% to $760.6 billion in February, following a 0.7% decrease in January. Economists had anticipated a decrease of 0.3% in February.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 6,000 to 388,000 for the week ending March 26. Continuing claims for the week ending March 19 fell by 51,000 to 3.7 million. The monthly unemployment rate fell to 8.8% in March from 8.9% in February.