Monday, March 15, 2010

Economic Good News for March, 2010

According to the ICSC-Goldman Sachs index, retail sales rose 2.9% for the week ending March 6. It was the biggest weekly gain in nine years. On a year-over-year basis, retailers saw sales increase 3.4%, the best showing in two-and-a-half years.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage applications for the week ending March 5 rose 0.5%. Purchase volume increased 5.7%. Refinancing applications fell 1.5%.
The Commerce Department said wholesalers cut their inventories by 0.2% in January following a downward revised 1% drop in December. Meanwhile, sales at the wholesale level rose 1.3% in January, marking the 10th straight monthly gain.
The trade deficit unexpectedly fell 6.6% to $37.3 billion in January from a revised $39.9 billion gap in December. Economists had expected the trade deficit to widen to $41 billion. Exports slipped 0.3% to $142.7 billion. Imports fell 1.7% to $180 billion.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 6,000 to 462,000 in the week ending March 6. Continuing claims for the week ending February 27 rose by 37,000 to 4.558 million.
Retail sales rose 0.3% in February, following a revised 0.1% increase in January. Economists had anticipated retail sales to decline 0.2% in February. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales increased 3.9%.
The Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for March’s preliminary reading fell to 72.5 from February's final reading of 73.6. One year ago, the mid-March reading was 57.3. During the economic expansion that ended in December 2007, the index averaged 88.9.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on the housing market index on March 15, housing starts on March 16 and the index of leading economic indicators on March 18.