THURSDAY, April 19, 2012 - Home mortgage activity has slipped. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s index of mortgages to buy a house fell 11.2% last week after the federal government raised fees on certain mortgages. Applications have been essentially flat this year even though home sales are up — most likely a reflection of the flurry of purchases by investors who are paying cash for properties.
Vital Signs Chart: Slowing Improvement in Home Sales
THURSDAY, August 23, 2012 - Home sales are up but aren’t growing as fast as earlier this year. Sales of existing homes increased 2.3% to a 4.47 million annual rate in July, an improvement from June but the second slowest pace this year. Sales increased in every region but the West — which was hit hardest by the real estate bust — where sales were flat over the month.
Charting New Home Sales: Good and Bad in December Report
WEDNESDAY, April 11, 2012 - The number of unemployed people available for each new job vacancy in the U.S. has been on the decline. In February, there were 3.66 unemployed people for each job opening, the lowest level since 2008. That is still well above the pre-recession level of 1.8 workers per vacancy but suggests the labor market continues to show slow but steady improvement.
FRIDAY, May 4, 2012 - Service sector activity slipped. The Institute for Supply Management’s index of business activity in nonmanufacturing industries fell to 53.5 in April from 56.0 in March. Readings above 50 indicate expansion, so the April figures portray a continued but moderating pace of growth. The service sector accounts for the lion’s share of employment, encompassing everything from bankers to hair stylists.
TUESDAY, March 6, 2012 - U.S. services businesses slowed their pace of hiring in February from January. The Institute for Supply Management’s seasonally adjusted Services Employment Index was 55.7 in February, down 1.7 points from the previous month. Readings above 50 indicate expansion. February’s slight decline comes after the index jumped in January to 57.4 from 49.8. Employment gains also slowed among U.S. factories in February.
WEDNESDAY, July 18, 2012 - U.S. factories are getting whipsawed by global turmoil. Factory output rose 0.7% in June from May, after slumping 0.7% the previous month. The same pattern — a bounce, after a slump — occurred in April and March. But the ups and downs are taking a toll on manufacturing: Output grew at an annual rate of 1.4% in the second quarter, down sharply from 9.8% in the first.
MONDAY, July 2, 2012 - Americans are saving more money. The personal saving rate — savings as a percentage of after-tax income — rose to a seasonally adjusted 3.9% in May, up from 3.7% in April and 3.4% in February. Workers are seeing modestly higher earnings and lower oil prices are keeping inflation in check. Consumers appear to be holding on to the extra money and not spending it.