March 28, 2016

This Week’s Top Economic Data Points: U.S. Economy Expanded 1.4 Percent At End Of 2015

  • The U.S. Commerce Department announced last week that, at a 1.4 percent annualized rate, economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2015 was higher than previously reported. (The department originally pegged fourth quarter growth at just one percent.) The revision was attributed to higher rates of consumer spending. The economy expanded two percent in the third quarter of last year.
  • Regional manufacturing readings offered positive news last week. The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond reported that its index for the Central Atlantic region rose to +22 in March, the highest reading since April 2010, from -4 in February. Shipments and new orders were up significantly while employment also improved. The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, meanwhile, announced its manufacturing survey for the Midwest increased to -6 in March from -12 in February. The new orders, order backlog and employment indexes all improved slightly but remained in negative territory while production fell.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of individuals who filed for federal unemployment benefits increased to 265,000 for the week that ended March 19 from 259,000 the week before. The four-week moving average also rose slightly, but it was the 55th week in a row the number of first-time claims was below 300,000, the longest streak since 1973. The number of individuals who continued to receive federal jobless benefits fell to 2.179 million for the week that ended March 12 from 2.218 million in March 12. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also fell. In other employment news: DOL announced 36 states added jobs in February while 14 lost them.
  • In other economic news: in a reading that was much worse than analysts expected, the National Association of Realtors reported last week that U.S. existing home sales fell 7.1 percent from January 2016 to February 2016, but were up 2.2 percent from February 2015 to February 2016; sales of new homes in the United States rose two percent for the month, but were down 6.1 percent year-over-year.