- Jobless Claims – Initial claims fell 9,000 to a 315,000 level. Continuing claims fell 48,000.
- Retail Sales – January was weaker than initially estimated, but sales made a comeback in February. Sales rebounded 0.3% after declining 0.6% in January.
According to the Primary Mortgage Market Survey released by Freddie Mac, average mortgage rates edged up following a week with little new economic and housing news.
30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) averaged 4.37% with an average 0.6 point for the week ending March 13, 2014, up from last week when they averaged 4.28%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.63%.
15-year FRMs this week averaged 3.38% with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when they averaged 3.32%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.79%.
5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) averaged 3.09% this week with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when they averaged 3.03%. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.61%.
1-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 2.48% this week with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when they averaged 2.52%. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.64%.
Rising political tension in Russia caused stocks to fall to their worst level in five weeks. The S&P 500 dropped to the red zone at -1.2% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered its fourth straight decline (-1.4%).
The Week Ahead
Monday, March 17
Housing Market Index (10 a.m. ET) – The National Association of Home Builders produces a housing market index based on a survey in which respondents from this organization are asked to rate the general economy and housing market conditions. The housing market index is a weighted average of separate diffusion indexes: present sales of new homes, sale of new homes expected in the next six months, and traffic of prospective buyers in new homes.
Tuesday, March 18
Consumer Price Index (8:30 a.m. ET) – The Consumer Price Index is a measure of the change in the average price level of a fixed basket of goods and services purchased by consumers.
Housing Starts (8:30 a.m. ET) – A housing start is registered at the start of construction of a new building intended primarily as a residential building. The start of construction is defined as the beginning of excavation of the foundation for the building.
Wednesday, March 19
FOMC Meeting Announcement (2 p.m. ET) – The FOMC announcement is expected to leave policy rates unchanged. The big issues will be changes in the characterization of the economy, changes in guidance and whether there are any hints at slowing tapering.
Thursday, March 20
Jobless Claims (8:30 a.m. ET) – New unemployment claims are compiled weekly to show the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time.
Retail Sales (8:30 a.m. ET) – Retail sales measure the total receipts at stores that sell merchandise and related services to final consumers. Sales are by retail and food service stores.
Bloomberg Consumer Comfort (9:45 a.m. ET) – The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index is a weekly, random-sample survey that tracks Americans’ views on the condition of the U.S. economy, their personal finances and the buying climate.
Existing Home Sales (10 a.m. ET) – Existing Home Sales tally the number of previously constructed homes, condominiums and co-ops in which a sale closed during the month. Existing homes (also known as home resales) account for a larger share of the market than new homes and indicate housing market trends.
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