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Economic Update - May 30, 2011

posted May 31, 2011, 4:03 PM by Svetlana Raleigh

New home sales rose 7.3% in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 323,000 units from an upwardly revised rate of 301,000 units in March. Economists had expected a pace of 300,000 units in April.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending May 20 rose 1.1%. Refinancing applications increased 0.9%. Purchase volume rose 1.1%.

Orders for durable goods — items expected to last three or more years — fell 3.6% in April after a revised 4.4% increase in March. Excluding volatile transportation-related goods, orders posted a monthly decrease of 1.5%.

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 1.8% in the first quarter of 2011. This follows a 3.1% pace of growth in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Retail sales fell 1% for the week ending May 21, according to the ICSC-Goldman Sachs index. On a year-over-year basis, retailers saw sales increase 3.1%.

Pending home sales, a forward-looking indicator based on signed contracts, fell 11.6% in April after a 5.1% increase in March. On a year-over-year basis, pending sales are down 26.5%.

The Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for May's final reading rose to 74.3 from 69.8 in April.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose by 10,000 to 424,000 for the week ending May 21. Continuing claims for the week ending May 14 fell by 46,000 to 3.69 million.

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