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February 27, 2017

This Week’s Top Economic Data Points: Midwest Manufacturing Index Improves

  • The Chicago Federal Reserve’s National Activity Index three-month moving average fell -0.03 in January from -0.02 in December. According to the Chicago Fed, this new level “suggests that growth in national economic activity was near its historical trend.”
  • The Kansas City Federal Reserve’s manufacturing index rose to +14 in February (its highest level since June 2011) from +9 in January. According to the Kansas City Fed, “Activity in both durable and nondurable goods plants increased, particularly for metals, machinery, computer, and electronic products.”
  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of individuals who filed for federal unemployment benefits rose to 244,000 for the week that ended February 18 from 238,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims fell, meanwhile, to 241,000 from 245,000, and was at its lowest level since July 1973. The number of individuals who continued to file for benefits fell to 2.06 million for the week that ended February 11 from 2.077 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims also declined.
  • In other economic news: wholesale sales Canada rose 0.7 percent from November 2016 to December 2017; existing home sales in the United States increased 3.3 percent from December 2016 to January 2017 and were up 3.8 percent between January 2016 and January 2017; sales of new homes in the United States rose 3.7 percent from December to January and increased 5.5 percent year-over-year; and the University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment fell to 96.3 in February from 98.5 in January.