In the News
According to national data tracker RealtyTrac, foreclosures sank to their lowest level in five years during April, while homebuilder confidence reached its highest level in five years, with builder permit requests also up, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
The Census Bureau reported last week that permits for construction of privately owned housing units issued in April were at an annual rate of 715,000, which represented a 7 percent drop from March's revised rate of 769,000, but was 23.7 percent over April's revised 2011 estimate of 578,000. Permits for single-family home constructions were at a rate of 475,000 in April, which was 1.9 percent over March's revised figure of 466,000.
Starts on construction of privately owned housing in April were at an annual rate of 717,000, which was 2.6 percent over the revised March estimate of 699,000, and was 29.9 percent over the revised April 2011 rate of 552,000. Starts on single-family homes in April were at a rate of 492,000, which was 2.3 percent over March's revised figure of 481,000.
Completed constructions of privately owned housing in April were at an adjusted annual rate of 651,000, which was 10 percent higher than the revised March estimate of 592,000 and was 20.1 percent above the revised April 2011 rate of 542,000. Completions of single-family homes in April were at a rate of 489,000, which was 11.4 percent above the revised March figure of 439,000.
In addition, the number of homes listed for sale in the U.S. fell 22 percent to 2.37 million in March from a year earlier, according to the National Association of REALTORS®, reflecting a 6.3-month supply at the current sales pace.
In employment news, initial claims for unemployment benefits filed during the week ending May 12 were unchanged from the previous week at 370,000 claims, the Employment and Training Administration reported last week. The four-week moving average was 375,000, a decrease of 4,750 from the previous week's revised average of 379,750.
The total number for insured unemployed during the week ending May 5 came to 3,265,000, an increase of 18,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 3,247,000, the Administration also reported. The four-week moving average was 3,282,750, a decrease of 11,750 from the preceding week's revised average of 3,294,500.
Retail sales were also a headline maker last week, with advance estimates of retail and food services sales for April hitting $408.0 billion, an increase of 0.1 percent from March and 6.4 percent above April 2011, according to the Census Bureau's report.
April's figure was slightly down from analysts' expectations, which had generally predicted a 0.2 percent gain over March. Total sales for the February through April 2012 period were up 6.6 percent from the same period a year ago.
Industrial production increased 1.1 percent in April, according to last week's report from the Federal Reserve. Manufacturing output increased 0.6 percent in April after having decreased 0.5 percent in March.
Excluding motor vehicles and parts, which increased nearly 4 percent, manufacturing output moved up 0.3 percent, and output for all but a few major industries increased. Production at mines rose 1.6 percent, and the output of utilities gained 4.5 percent after unseasonably warm weather in the first quarter held down demand for heating.
This week's economic news sees a couple of key real estate announcements, starting on Tuesday with April's existing home sales from the National Association of REALTORS®. This is followed Wednesday with April new home sales from the Census Bureau.
On Thursday, the Employment and Training Administration releases initial jobless claims for last week. Also on Thursday, the Census Bureau releases April's durable goods orders. The week wraps up on Friday with May's consumer sentiment index from the University of Michigan.