It’s Friday and that means it’s time to review the latest economic data and identify which pockets of the economy are heating up and which are slowing down. Don’t worry about catching every headline and every report throughout the week—I recap all of the most important news impacting your wealth right here every Friday. Let’s take a look at this week’s big headlines:
Existing Home Sales
Interestingly, despite a recent uptick in mortgage rates, existing home sales rose to a 5.69 million annual pace in January. This represented a 10-year high. The inventory of existing homes for sale declined 7.1% in January. Inventories remains unusually tight at a 3.6-month supply, so home prices are expected to continue to rise. Overall, the strong sales of existing homes is a sign that consumer confidence remains high.
New Home Sales
In January, new home sales jumped to a 555,000 annual pace. This was higher than the 535,000 in new home sales reported for December. However, economists were projecting a 566,000 annual pace, so these results underperformed expectations. Over the past 12 months, new home sales have risen 5.5%.
For the week ending February 23, initial jobless claims rose by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted rate of 244,000. This was largely expected, as economists had expected claims to rise to 242,000. Meanwhile, the four-week moving average of jobless claims fell by 4,000 to 241,000. By this measure, jobless claims are at their lowest level since 1973. Incredibly, jobless claims have remained below 300,000 for over 100 consecutive weeks.
University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index
On Friday, the University of Michigan announced that its consumer sentiment index rose to a reading of 96.3 in February. This represents a modest uptick from the 95.7 initial reading reported earlier in the month. This was also a little higher than economists’ estimates of a 95.8 reading. However, this final reading represents a decline from the 98.5 reading in January. This is the first time since the election that the University of Michigan’s index has pulled back.
That’s all I have for you this week; I’ll be in touch again next week with the latest ratings updates out of Portfolio Grader.
Have a great weekend,