According to the U.S. Commerce Department, housing starts in April jumped to the fastest annual rate (1.14 million) since November of 2007. After the abnormally cold winter, it appears construction activity is picking up. Currently, the housing market holds a below-normal, 4.6 months of inventory—6 months is considered healthy and balanced—and that likely encouraged the homebuilders to gear up for demand. The number of permits approved also climbed nicely, by 10.1 percent. Read more about Data-Dependent Fed Likely to Wait 05-20-15
Today, investors were treated to several economic reports.
U.S. April retail sales were essentially flat from March. Households cut back on big-ticket item purchases such as autos, a setback as the car market had previously been one of the brightest spots of the economic recovery. Other economic reports showed that weekly mortgage applications fell and U.S. business inventories increased only meekly. The latest data suggests that the U.S. economy isn’t particularly rebounding after a rough first quarter largely blamed on the harsh winter. Read more about Walking a Fine Line 05-13-15
The Commerce Department today announced its first estimate of the first-quarter increase in gross domestic product (GDP). As feared, the 0.2 percent (annualized) print indicates that, hindered by the abnormally cold winter and appreciation of the U.S. dollar, the economy stalled. Exports fell steeply, as the strong greenback made American goods more costly, and thus less price competitive, for foreign buyers.
In the third and fourth quarters of 2014, U.S. GDP had advanced 5 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively. Read more about The Fed on Course 04-29-15