Last Week in the News

Existing home sales rose 4.3% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million units from a downwardly revised 4.38 million units in December. The inventory of unsold homes on the market decreased to 2.31 million, a 6.1-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 6.4-month supply in December.

Retail sales rose 3% for the week ending February 18, according to the ICSC-Goldman Sachs index. On a year-over-year basis, retailers saw sales increase 3.2%.

New home sales fell 0.9% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 321,000 units from an upwardly revised rate of 324,000 units in December. The initial December reading was 307,000. The November rate was also revised higher to 318,000 units. At the current sales pace, there’s a 5.6-month supply of new homes on the market, the lowest reading in six years.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending February 17 fell 4.5%. Refinancing applications decreased 4.8%. Purchase volume fell 2.9%.

Industrial production at the nation’s factories, mines and utilities was unchanged in January after advancing an upwardly revised 1% in December. Compared to a year ago, industrial production is up 3.4%. Capacity utilization fell slightly to 78.5% in January from 78.6% in December.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending February 18 were unchanged at 351,000. Continuing claims for the week ending February 11 fell by 52,000 to 3.392 million, the lowest level since August 2008.

From Prospect Mortgage Economic Update

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