Motor vehicle sales rose 2.8% in August to an annualized sales rate of 14.5 million cars and light trucks. It was the fastest pace since August 2009. Compared to August 2011, motor vehicle sales have increased 20%.
Manufacturing activity fell to 49.6 in August after a reading of 49.8 in July. A reading below 50 signals contraction. This was the third consecutive contraction since July 2009.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending August 31 fell 2.5%. Refinancing applications decreased 3%. Purchase volume fell 0.8%.
Total construction spending fell 0.9% to $834.4 billion in July, following a 0.4% increase in June. Compared to June 2011, construction spending has risen 9.3%.
The Labor Department reported that in the second quarter, productivity rose at an annual rate of 2.2% and labor costs increased at an annual rate of 1.5%.
Non-manufacturing activity rose to 53.7 in August from 52.6 in July. A reading above 50 signals expansion. It was the 32nd straight month of expansion in the services sector.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending September 1 fell by 12,000 to 365,000. Continuing claims for the week ending August 25 fell by 6,000 to 3.322 million. The unemployment rate fell to 8.1% in August from 8.3% in July. Employers added 96,000 jobs in August.
from Prospect Mortgage Economic Update