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The U.S. Census Bureau reported that sales of newly built homes fell 18.2% below the revised January rate of 948,000 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 775,000, this is the slowest pace since May 2020. New home sales fell in every region of the country; Northeast (-11.6%), Midwest (-37.5%), South (-14.7%), and West (-16.4%). A cold and stormy weather pattern especially impacted the Midwest and South. The number of homes sold and not started came in at 245,000 in February as rising land, labor, and material costs (mainly lumber) are delaying construction. The median sales price of new houses sold in February 2021 is up 5.3% year over year to $349,400.
The Commerce Department reported new orders for durable goods fell 1.1.% (-$2.9B) in February, this follows a robust 3.5% increase in January and is the first decrease since last spring. Manufacturers were challenged with supply change disruptions caused by severe weather and commodity shortages. Semiconductor shortages not only pushed up prices but caused some delays in the manufacturing of autos and other goods. Transportation led the decrease down 1.6% (-$1.3B), this follows five consecutive monthly increases. Automakers reported the biggest drop in orders — a decline of 8.7%. Excluding transportation equipment, durable goods orders fell 0.9% in February after a 1.6% increase in January. Excluding defense, new orders decreased 0.7%. Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft dropped 0.8% in February after rising by 0.6% in January and is up 9.1% year over year.
The Department of Labor reported for the week ending March 20, that initial jobless claims came in at 684,000, a decrease of 97,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 781,000 and the lowest level since March 2020. The 4-week moving average was 736,000, a decrease of 13,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 749,000. Some states did however see a spike in initial claims: Massachusetts (+10,713), Nevada (+10,040), Texas (+6,534), and Virginia (+12,707). Continuing claims which is an estimate of those collecting ongoing benefits decreased by 264,000 to 3.87M for the week ended March 13. Continuing claims for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation – a program for those who have exhausted state benefits rose to 5.55M for the week ended March 6. The number of those claiming benefits in all unemployment programs increased to 18.95M from the previous week’s 18.26M.
Tuesday March 30 – CB Consumer Confidence (Mar)
Friday April 2 – Unemployment Rate (Mar)