2/18/21: EconUpdate by P. Duffy

EconUpdate by P. Duffy

In addition to these links below, P. Duffy also curates more comprehensive, daily and weekly summaries of national and global economic news updates.
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Builder confidence rebounds one point to 84 in February

What does this mean?  Despite ongoing challenges with higher lumber prices and supply chain challenges, strong demand helped boost confidence.

Strong buyer demand helped offset supply chain challenges and a surge in lumber prices as builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes inched up one point to 84 in February.  The Housing Market Index (HMI) gauging current sales conditions held steady at 90, while the component measuring sales expectations in the next six months fell three points to 80. The gauge charting traffic of prospective buyers rose four points to 72.


Retail and food sales up 5.3 percent in January and 7.4 percent year-on-year

What does this mean? Consumers eagerly spent stimulus funds issued in January, especially for items found online.

Retail and food services sales for January 2021 were $568.2 billion, an increase of 5.3 percent from the previous month, and 7.4 percent above January 2020.   Retail trade sales alone were up 5.1 percent from December 2020, and 10.8 percent above last year. Nonstore (online) retail sales were up 11.0 percent from December and 28.7 percent from January 2020.


Producer Price Index jumps 1.3 percent in January, up 1.7 percent year-on-year

What does this mean? Pent-up demand and supply chain challenges previously noted by purchasing managers has resulted in a sharp increase in prices as the economy has re-opened.

The Producer Price Index for final demand increased 1.3 percent in January, for the largest advance since the index began in December 2009. Final demand prices rose 0.3 percent in December and 0.1 percent in November. Year-on-year, the index for final demand moved up 1.7, the largest increase since January 2020.


Purchase loan apps fall 6 percent from previous week but up 15 percent year-on-year

What does this mean? Lower inventory and higher prices have constrained purchase loan apps, and the rise in rates since December has slightly dampened demand for refinancing.

The Market Composite Index decreased 5.1 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier, with purchase loans falling 6 percent (but up 15 percent year-on-year) and refinance activity down 5 percent (but up 51 percent year-on-year). The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances increased to 2.98 percent.