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Economic Update 03/30/15

Economic Update

HOME SALES PICK UP

Existing home sales accelerated 1.2% to an annual pace of 4.88 million in February, the National Association of Realtors announced. Sales had slowed markedly in January. February also brought a big jump in new home buying – a 7.8% increase according to the Census Bureau, taking the year-over-year gain to 24.8%.

FEBRUARY BRINGS AN ADVANCE IN THE CPI

The 0.2% gain represented the first monthly rise in consumer prices since October; a 2.4% increase in gasoline prices made a demonstrable difference. Even so, this left the headline CPI flat year-over-year. The core CPI rose 0.2% in February, taking its annualized gain to 1.7%.

UMICH INDEX STAGES MARCH RETREAT

At a mark of 93.0, March’s final University of Michigan consumer sentiment index declined 2.4 points from its final February reading. It has still improved vastly in the past year – last March, it was at 80.0.

FINAL Q4 GDP: 2.2%

The third estimate of fourth-quarter growth by the Bureau of Economic Analysis was unchanged from the second; economists polled by Briefing.com expected an upward revision to 2.4%. Last week also brought news of a 1.4% slip in hard goods orders; even minus transportation orders, durables still declined 0.4%.

WALL STREET WORRIES ABOUT A STRONG DOLLAR

Pessimism about the oncoming earnings season contributed to market choppiness and weekly losses for the big three. Across March 23-27, the Dow fell 2.29%, the Nasdaq 2.69% and the S&P 500 2.23%. Friday, the Dow settled at 17,712.66, the Nasdaq at 4,891.22 and the S&P at 2,061.02.

THIS WEEK: Monday, the Commerce Department releases February personal spending numbers and the NAR issues February pending home sales data. The January S&P/Case-Shiller home price index and the Conference Board’s March consumer confidence survey arrive Tuesday. On Wednesday, ISM’s March factory PMI and ADP’s March employment report appear and Monsanto announces earnings. Thursday brings the March Challenger job-cut report, new initial claims totals, February factory orders data and earnings from CarMax and Perry Ellis. On Friday, the Labor Department presents its March jobs report and Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen speaks briefly at a Fed research conference.

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