Last Week in the News

The combined construction of new single-family homes and apartments in November rose 9.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 685,000 units. Single-family starts increased 2.3%. Multifamily starts rose 25.3%. Applications for new building permits, seen as an indicator of future activity, rose 5.7% to an annual rate of 681,000 units.

Existing home sales rose 4% in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.42 million units from 4.25 million units in October. The inventory of unsold homes on the market decreased to 2.58 million, a 7-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 7.7-month supply in October.

The Commerce Department announced that gross domestic product — the total output of goods and services produced in the U.S. — increased at a revised annual rate of 1.8% in the third quarter of 2011.

New home sales rose 1.6% in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 315,000 units from a revised rate of 310,000 units in October. Compared to a year ago, new home sales were up 9.8%.

The index of leading economic indicators — designed to forecast economic activity in the next three to six months — rose a strong 0.5% in November, following a 0.9% increase in October.

Orders for durable goods — items expected to last three or more years — rose $7.5 billion or 3.8% to $207 billion in November. Excluding volatile transportation-related goods, orders posted a monthly increase of 0.3%.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 4,000 to 364,000 for the week ending December 17. Continuing claims for the week ending December 10 fell by 79,000 to 3.546 million.

PS – The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has extended the temporary waiver of anti-flipping regulations through December 31, 2012.

from Prospect Mortgage Economic Update

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