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Economic Update - March 7, 2011

posted Mar 7, 2011, 2:19 PM by Svetlana Raleigh

Last Week in the News


Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 20,000 to 368,000 for the week ending February 26. Continuing claims for the week ending February 19 fell by 59,000 to 3.77 million. The monthly unemployment rate fell to 8.9% in February from 9% in January.

The Institute for Supply Management reported that the monthly composite index of manufacturing activity rose to 61.4 in February after a revised 60.8 in January. A reading above 50 signals expansion. It was the 19th straight month of expansion and the highest reading in almost seven years.

The National Association of Realtors reported that its pending home sales index, a forward-looking indicator based on signed contracts, fell 2.8% in January after a revised 3.2% decrease in December. On a year-over-year basis, pending sales are down 1.5%.

Total construction spending fell 0.7% to $791.8 billion in January, following a revised 1.6% decrease in December. Economists had anticipated a decrease of 0.8% in January.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending February 25 fell 6.5%. Refinancing applications decreased 6.5%. Purchase volume fell 6.1%.

The Institute for Supply Management reported that the monthly composite index of non-manufacturing activity rose to 59.7 in February from 59.4 in January. A reading above 50 signals expansion. It was the 14th straight month of expansion in the services sector and the fastest pace since August 2005.

Factory orders rose 3.1% in January to a seasonally adjusted $445.6 billion, following a revised 1.4% increase in December. Excluding the volatile transportation sector, orders rose 0.7%.

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