5/21: MetroIntelligence Economic Update by P. DUFFY

April housing starts fall 30.2 percent from March and 29.7 percent year-on-year 

Privately-owned housing starts in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 891,000. This is 30.2 percent below the revised March estimate of 1,276,000 and is 29.7 percent below the April 2019 rate of



April building permits decline 20.8 percent from March and 19.2 percent year-on-year

Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,074,000.  This is 20.8 percent below the revised March rate of 1,356,000 and is 19.2 percent below the April
2019 rate of 1,330,000.



Purchase loans rise 6 percent from previous week, down just 1.5 percent year-on-year

The Market Composite Index decreased 2.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier, with purchase loans up 6 percent (but down 1.5 percent year-on-year) and refinance activity falling 6 percent (but up 160 percent year-on-year).  The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances decreased to 3.41 percent from 3.43 percent.



1Q20 e-commerce sales grew 7 times faster than total retail sales year-on-year

In the first quarter of 2020, seasonally adjusted U.S. retail e-commerce sales ($160.3 billion) rose 2.4 percent from the previous quarter versus a decline of 1.3 percent for total retail sales ($1.36 trillion).  Year-on-year, e-commerce sales rose 14.8 percent versus an increase of 2.1 percent for total retail sales.   The share of e-commerce sales in the first quarter of 2020 accounted for 11.8 percent of total retail sales, up from 10.5 percent a year earlier.  Each year, the share of e-commerce sales rises by about a percentage point.



1Q20 service sector revenue fell 2.8 percent from previous quarter, but up 0.8 percent year-on-year

Advance U.S. selected services total revenue for the first quarter of 2020 was $4,011.4 billion, a decrease of 2.8 percent  from the fourth quarter of 2019 and up 0.8 percent from the first quarter of 2019.