EconUpdate by P. Duffy
Pending Home Sales Index drops 2.8 percent in January, but still up 13.0 percent year-on-year
Due largely to insufficient inventory, the Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) dropped 2.8 percent to 122.8 in January, but was still up 13.0 percent year-on-year. All four national areas saw contract transactions increase from a year-over-year standpoint, including two regions reaching double-digit gains, spurring an all-time high for pending home sales in the month of January.
Initial unemployment claims dip 13.2 percent to 730,000
In the week ending February 20, initial unemployment claims were 730,000, a decrease of 111,000, or 13.2 percent, from the previous week’s revised level. Continued claims during the week ending February 13 were 4,419,000, a decrease of 101,000, or 2.2 percent, from the previous week’s revised level. The total number of continued weeks claimed for benefits in all programs for the week ending February 6 was 19,042,686, an increase of 701,102, or 3.8 percent, from the previous week.
Federal Reserve Chair confirms continued low rates and support of financial and mortgage markets
In testimony to Congress this week: “As noted in our January policy statement, we expect that it will be appropriate to maintain the current accommodative target range of the federal funds rate until labor market conditions have reached levels consistent with the Committee’s assessments of maximum employment and inflation has risen to 2 percent and is on track to moderately exceed 2 percent for some time. In addition, we will continue to increase our holdings of Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities at least at their current pace until substantial further progress has been made toward our goals.”