Pending home sales, a forward-looking indicator based on signed contracts, rose 4.1% in March, the highest level since April 2010, after an upwardly revised 0.4% increase in February. On a year-over-year basis, pending home sales in March were up 12.8%.
The Commerce Department announced that gross domestic product — the total output of goods and services produced in the U.S. — increased at an annual rate of 2.2% in the first quarter of 2012. This follows a 3% pace of growth in the fourth quarter of 2011.
New home sales fell 7.1% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 328,000 units from an upwardly revised rate of 353,000 units in February. The initial February reading was 313,000. The January rate was revised higher to 329,000 units. On a year-over-year basis, new home sales in March were up 7.5%. At the current sales pace, there's a 5.3-month supply of new homes on the market.
The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city housing price index — on a non-seasonally adjusted basis — fell 0.8% in February, after a 1% decrease in January. On a year-over-year basis, prices fell 3.5% compared with February 2011.
rders for durable goods — items expected to last three or more years — fell $8.8 billion or 4.2% to $202.6 billion in March, the biggest drop in more than three years. This follows a revised 1.9% increase in February. Excluding volatile transportation-related goods, orders posted a monthly decrease of 1.1%.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending April 21 fell by 1,000 to 388,000 from a revised 389,000 the prior week. Continuing claims for the week ending April 14 rose by 3,000 to 3.315 million.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on construction spending on May 1 and factory orders on May 2.