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Economic Update - March 14, 2011

posted Mar 15, 2011, 9:57 AM by Svetlana Raleigh

Last Week in the News

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending March 4 rose 15.5%. Refinancing applications increased 17.2%. Purchase volume rose 12.5%.

Wholesale inventories were at their highest level since November 2008, increasing 1.1% to $436.88 billion in January. This followed a revised 1.3% rise in December. Sales at the wholesale level rose 3.4% in January, the largest gain since November 2009.

Retail sales rose 1% to $387.1 billion in February after a 0.7% increase in January. It was the eighth straight monthly gain. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales rose 8.9%.

According to the Federal Reserve, consumer credit debt rose in January by $5.01 billion for a total credit level of $2.41 trillion. Figures for December were revised from an initial gain of $6.1 billion to a gain of $4.1 billion. Revolving debt, which includes credit cards, fell by $4.25 billion. Non-revolving debt, including loans for cars, rose by $9.26 billion.

The trade deficit increased 15.1% to $46.3 billion in January from $40.3 billion in December. Economists had expected a trade deficit of $40 billion. Exports rose 2.7% to $167.7 billion. Imports increased 5.2% to $214.1 billion.

Total business inventories rose 0.9% in January to $1.45 trillion, up 9.1% from a year ago. Total business sales increased 2% to $1.17 trillion in January, up 10.8% from a year ago.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose by 26,000 to 397,000 for the week ending March 5. Continuing claims for the week ending February 26 fell by 20,000 to 3.77 million.