Economic Update – October 20, 2014
Posted by Kathy King /
The combined construction of new single-family homes and apartments in September rose 6.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,017,000 units, compared to the revised August estimate of 957,000 units. Single-family starts increased 1.1%. Volatile multifamily starts rose 16.7%. Overall, housing unit starts were up 17.8% in September when compared to the previous year. Applications for new building permits, seen as an indicator of future activity, were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,018,000 units, 1.5% above the revised August rate of 1,003,000 units.
The monthly National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo housing market index fell five points in October to 54 from a September reading of 59. An index reading above 50 indicates positive sentiment about the housing market.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending October 10 rose 5.6% from the previous week. Purchase volume fell 1%. Refinancing applications increased 11%.
Retail sales fell 0.3% to $442.7 billion in September. This follows a 0.6% increase in August. Compared to a year ago, September retail sales have increased 4.3%.
Total business sales decreased 0.4% to $1,353.4 billion in August, up 4.5% from a year ago. Total business inventories rose 0.2% to $1,752.3 billion in August, up 5.7% from a year ago. The total business inventories/sales ratio in August was 1.29.
Industrial production at the nation’s factories, mines and utilities rose 1% in September after a revised 0.2% decrease in August. Compared to September 2013, industrial production has increased 4.3% over the last year. Capacity utilization rose to 79.3% in September from 78.7% in August.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending October 11 fell by 23,000 to 264,000, the lowest level since April 2000. Continuing claims for the week ending October 4 rose by 7,000 to 2.389 million. The less volatile four-week average of claims for unemployment benefits was 283,500, the lowest level since June 2000.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on existing home sales on October 21 and new home sales on October 24.