5/16: METROINTELLIGENCE ECONOMIC UPDATE by P.Duffy

NAHB Housing Market Index rises to 70 in May, second-highest reading since the recession

In a further sign that the housing market continues to strengthen, builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes rose two points in May to a level of 70 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This is the second highest HMI reading since the downturn.

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CPI rose 0.2 percent in April, up 2.2 percent over past year

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.2 percent in April. Over the last 12 months, the all items index rose 2.2 percent before seasonal adjustment. The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.1 percent in April after declining in March.  The index for all items less food and energy rose 1.9 percent over the last 12 months; this compares to a 1.8 percent average annual increase over the past decade.

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Retail sales rebounded 0.4 percent in April, with online sales up 1.4 percent

Americans stepped up their spending at auto dealers, hardware stores and e-commerce outlets as retail sales rebounded from two sluggish months, with retail sales rising 0.4 percent in April.  Sales had ticked up just 0.1 percent in March and fell in February. The rise also indicates that the struggles of large retail chains, such as Macy’s and JC Penney’s, reflect changes in consumer buying patterns rather than broader economic weakness. Sales at department stores fell 0.2 percent. Yet a category that includes online retailers reported sales growth of 1.4 percent, the strongest of any group.

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Consumer sentiment rises to 97.7 in May while partisan divide narrows

Consumer sentiment remained on the high plateau established following Trump’s election, with the early May figure nearly identical with the December to May average of 97.4. The partisan difference in the Expectations Index is still huge, but the gap between Democrats and Republicans narrowed slightly to 55 Index points from 65 three months ago.

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