August 20, 2012
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo monthly housing market index rose two points in August to 37, the highest level since February 2007. An index reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market.
The producer price index, which tracks wholesale price inflation, rose 0.3% in July, following a 0.1% increase in June. On a year-over-year basis, wholesale prices were up 0.5% in July. Core prices — excluding food and fuel — rose 0.4% in July.
Retail sales rose 0.8% to $403.9 billion in July. This follows a revised 0.7% decrease in June. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales increased 4.1% in July.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending August 10 fell 4.5%. Refinancing applications decreased 5%. Purchase volume fell 2%.
Consumer prices were unchanged in July, following a flat reading in June. Compared to a year ago, consumer prices are up 1.4% in July. Consumer prices at the core rate — excluding volatile food and energy prices — were up 0.1% in July.
The combined construction of new single-family homes and apartments in July fell 1.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 746,000 units. Single-family starts decreased 6.5%. Volatile multifamily starts rose 12.4%. Compared to a year ago, housing starts are up 21.5% in July. Applications for new building permits, seen as an indicator of future activity, rose 6.8% to an annual rate of 812,000 units.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending August 11 rose by 2,000 to 366,000 from an upwardly revised 364,000 the prior week. Continuing claims for the week ending August 4 fell 31,000 to 3.305 million.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on existing home sales on August 22 and new home sales on August 23.