March reports on new and existing home sales, durable goods, and state employment, et al

the widely covered economic releases of this past week included the Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Summary for March, the March advance report on durable goods, and the two monthly reports on housing sales; the March report on existing home sales from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Census Bureau report on new home sales for March…another monthly release we saw this week was the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) for March, a weighted composite index of 85 different economic metrics which fell to −0.42 in March, down from −0.18 in February, while the index for February was revised from -0.11 to -0.18…the CFNAI index is constructed so a zero value indicates economic growth at the historical trend rate, so the negative readings for February and March indicate growth below trend, which in March was the lowest reading on this index since August 2012…in addition, the Kansas City Fed manufacturing survey for April, covering a region that includes western Missouri, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming and northern New Mexico, saw its broadest composite index fall to -7 in April, down from -4 in March and 1 in February, indicating a modest downturn, as every sub-index except inventories turned negative

Existing Home Sales Increase 6.1%; New Home Sales Remain Flat

the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that existing home sales rose a seasonally adjusted 6.1% in March, as they project 5.19  million homes would sell over a year if March home sales were extrapolated over an entire year, which is 10.4% higher than the annual rate projected in March of a year ago… the NAR press release, which is titled Existing-Home Sales Spike in March is in easy to read plain English, so there’s no point in our restating what they already report…however, since the report is entirely seasonally adjusted and at a meaningless annual rate, we’d also want to look at the raw data overview (pdf), which shows that 403,000 homes actually sold in February, up 36.6% from 295,000 in February and up 13.5% from the 355,000 homes that sold in March last year, with double digit year over year increases in every region except the Northeast, where home sales were 4.7% ahead of the year ago total…the same document, mysteriously referred to as the Existing-Home Sales Overview Chart for Printing on the NAR summary page, indicates that the median home selling price for all housing types was $212,100 in March, up from the upwardly revised $201,900 in February, and 7.8% higher than the $196,700 median home sales price in March of last year, while the average home sales price was $257,400, up 3.9% from the $247,800 average in February, and up 5.1% from the $236,600 average sales price of March a year ago, with average home prices increasing in every region except the Northeast, where they fell 0.6% to $282,200….for additional coverage of this report, Bill McBride has two posts, first with a summary of the data, and the second with commentary, and both with multiple graphs…

meanwhile, the Census report on New Residential Sales for March (pdf) estimated that new single family homes were selling at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 481,000, 11.4 percent (±18.6%)* below the revised February rate of 543,000 new homes a year, but 19.4 percent (±21.8%)* above the annual rate that new homes were selling at in March of last year…as you know, the asterisks in this report indicate that based on their small sampling, Census could not be certain whether March new home sales rose or fell from those of February, or even from the sales of a year ago, and the figures in parenthesis represent the 90% confidence range for reported data in this report, which has the largest margin of error of any census construction series…the unadjusted data from Census field reps estimated that 45,000 homes sold in March, unchanged from February, which means the reported decrease in new home sales was entirely in the seasonal adjustment…their raw data further indicated that the median sales price of new houses sold was $277,400, down from $281,600 in February, while the average sales price was $343,300, down from $345,500 last month….for more details and graphics, see Bill McBride’s two posts, New Home Sales decline to 481,000 Annual Rate in March  and Comments on New Home Sales..

New Orders for Durable Goods Spike 4.0% on Cars and Planes

against a Bloomberg consensus estimate of a 0.5% increase, the Advance Report on Durable Goods Manufacturers’ Shipments, Inventories and Orders (pdf) from the Census Bureau reported that the widely watched new orders for manufactured durable goods rose in March by a seasonally adjusted $9.3 billion or 4.0% to $240.2 billion, following a statistically unrevised 1.4% decrease in February, and just 0.1% higher than a year earlier…as is usually the case, the change in new orders was driven by a 13.5% increase in new orders for transportation equipment, as new orders for automotive equipment rose 5.4% to 50,965 million, new orders for commercial aircraft rose 30.6% to $16,297 million, and new orders for defense aircraft rose 112.8% to $5,080 million…excluding transportation orders, new orders for other durable goods actually fell 0.2%, as the important new new orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft fell .0.5% to $68,189 million, the 7th decrease in a row, leaving new orders for this proxy for investment in equipment 1.8% lower than a year earlier

seasonally adjusted shipments of durable goods were up for the first time this year in March, as they increased $2.7 billion or 1.1 percent to $246.7 billion on a $3.2 billion or 4.3 percent increase in shipments of transportation equipment, while shipments of nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft fell 0.4%, after rising 0.1% in February and falling 0.6% in January, suggesting a decrease in equipment investment in the first quarter…meanwhile, seasonally adjusted inventories of durable goods, which have been up 23 out of the last 24 months, eked out a $0.3 billion or 0.1% increase to a new record at $412.9 billion, but still an increase at a pace weaker than the 4th quarter…finally, unfilled orders for manufactured durable goods, which we consider a better measure of industry conditions than the widely watched but volatile new orders, rose for the first time in four months by $0.3 billion to $1,156.4 billion, which the Census rounds to statistically unchanged…with the large increase in new transportation equipment orders, unfilled orders for transport equipment rose $2.3 billion or 0.3 percent to $734.5 billion, driving the order book increase..despite being down by 0.8% year to date, unfilled orders for durable goods remained 7.5% higher than they were last March, with every industry except defense seeing a year over year increase in their order backlog…

March Regional and State Employment and Unemployment 

the Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Summary for March expands on the national employment situation summary of three weeks ago by breaking down the state and regional details…again, this is a very readable report, better than i can restate, with BLS referring to tables linked to at the bottom of the press release wherever relevant…the BLS table corresponding to household survey data, including the seasonally adjusted count of the unemployed and the unemployment rate for each state, is here….for a breakdown of payroll employment by job type for each state over the past 3 months, and the change in employment since last November, see the following two BLS tables accompanying this release: Table 5. Employees on nonfarm payrolls by state and selected industry sector, seasonally adjusted and Table 6. Employees on nonfarm payrolls by state and selected industry sector, not seasonally adjusted …this report was covered with his graphs by Bill McBride here: BLS: Twenty-Three States had Unemployment Rate Decreases in March and by Robert Oak using an excellent series of state map graphics from the labor department here: March Payrolls Decline in 31 States Plus DC

(the above is the synopsis that accompanied my regular sunday morning links emailing, which in turn was mostly selected from my weekly blog post on the global glass onion…if you’d be interested in receiving my weekly emailing of selected links, most from the aforementioned GGO posts, contact me…)

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