The Institute for Supply Management reported that the monthly composite index of manufacturing activity rose to 53.4 in March after a reading of 52.4 in February. A reading above 50 signals expansion. It was the 32nd straight month of expansion.
Total construction spending fell 1.1% to $808.9 billion in February from a revised $818.1 billion in January. Economists had anticipated an increase of 0.7% in February. Compared to a year ago, construction spending is up 5.8%.
Retail sales fell 3.8% for the week ending March 31, according to the ICSC-Goldman Sachs index. On a year-over-year basis, retailers saw sales increase 4.2%.
Factory orders rose 1.3% in February to a seasonally adjusted $468.4 billion, following a revised 1.1% decrease in January. Excluding the volatile transportation sector, orders increased 0.9% in February.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending March 30 rose 4.8%. Refinancing applications increased 4%. Purchase volume rose 7.2%.
The Institute for Supply Management reported that the monthly composite index of non-manufacturing activity fell to 56 in March from 57.3 in February. A reading above 50 signals expansion. It was the 27th straight month of expansion in the services sector.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending March 31 fell by 6,000 to 357,000. Continuing claims for the week ending March 24 fell by 16,000 to 3.33 million. The monthly unemployment rate fell to 8.2% in March, the lowest level since January 2009.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on wholesale trade on April 10, international trade on April 12 and consumer inflation on April 13.