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The U.S. Census Bureau reported new residential building permits were down 8.8% in March to a seasonally adjusted 1.413M, (-24.8%) below the March 2022 rate of 1.879M. Single-family permits were up (+4.1%) to 818K, from a revised February figure of 786K. New residential building permits decreased in the West (-16.5%), South (-11.8%), and Midwest (-1.0%), while the Northeast saw an increase (+25.2%). Privately-owned housing starts were down (-0.8%) to 1.420M, (-17.2%) below the March 2022 rate of 1.716M. Single-family starts were up (+2.7%) to 861K. Single-family homebuilding increased in the Midwest (+23.6%), South (+4.8%), and Northeast (+4.4%), but fell in the West (-16.0%). Privately-owned housing completions reported at 1.542M, down (-0.6%) from a revised February figure of 1.552M, but up (+12.9%) over March 2022. Single-family housing completions came in at 1.050M, a (+2.4%) increase from the revised February rate of 1.025M, but down (-0.2%) from March 2022.
The Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) Beige Book, which is used to gauge economic conditions for FOMC meetings, found that economic activity was little changed in the six weeks up to April 10th. Nine Districts reported either no change or only a slight change in activity while three indicated modest growth, and two districts saw outlooks deteriorate. Consumer spending was generally reported as flat or down. Employment growth was weak, as several Districts reported a slower pace of growth than in recent Beige Book reports. Overall price levels rose during the period, though the rate of price increases appeared to be slowing. Consumer prices generally increased because of elevated demand, higher inventory, and labor costs. Home prices and rents moderated in most Districts but remain at near-record highs. Manufacturing activity was widely reported as flat or down even as supply chains continued to improve. Lending volumes were down and loan demand declined for both consumer and business loans. Several Districts noted that banks were tightening lending standards because of increased uncertainty and liquidity concerns.
The Labor Department reported an increase in initial jobless claims for the week ending April 15th. The seasonally adjusted initial claims came in at 245,000, an increase of 5,000 from the previous week’s upwardly revised level. The four-week moving average, which smooths out volatility, was 239,750, a decrease of 500 from the previous week’s revised average. For the week ending April 8th, the insured unemployment rate was 1.3%. The total number of unemployment claims for the week ending April 8 was reported at 1.865 M up 61,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The continuing claims’ 4-week moving average was 1.827M, an increase of 15,250 from the previous week. According to the unadjusted data for the week ending April 8 – California (+10,640), New Jersey (+3,378), Texas (+2,981), Pennsylvania (+2,921), and Connecticut (+1,619) all saw increases in initial claims. Ohio (-3,138), Indiana (-926), Missouri (-552), Michigan (-516), and Georgia (-468) all saw decreases. For the week ending April 1st, 1.821M people were receiving jobless benefits through state or federal programs, a decrease of 50,026 from the previous week. There were some 1.621M weekly claims filed for the comparable week in 2022.
Tuesday April 25 – New Home Sales (March)
Thursday April 27 – GDP (QoQ) (Q1)
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