As expected, the Commerce Department, earlier this morning, reported that the nation's first-quarter gross domestic product
(GDP), which initially had shown a token increase of 0.2% during the first quarter of this year, actually contracted modestly
. However, the falloff, at 0.7%, was less of a setback than the consensus estimate calling for a decline of 1.0%.
The U.S. Department of Commerce
issued new residential data
for the month of April
. All told, the report was very positive, with new home sales up nicely on both a sequential and year-over-year basis. Specifically, sales of new single-family houses in April
came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 517,000
. That figure was 6.8% above the revised March figure and up a notable 26.1% from the prior-year figure of 410,000 units. The consensus expectation called for sales of roughly 510,000 new units.
, which had eased back a bit in April, increased slightly in May, according to the Conference Board, a private research group domiciled in New York City. In all, this metric rose to 95.4 this month, up from a downwardly revised 94.3 in April. Initially, the April estimate had been 95.3.
In the second of three major monthly housing reports (preceded last week by housing starts and followed next week by sales of new homes), the National Association of Realtors has just reported that sales of existing residences
, or re-sales, eased by 3.3% last month, falling to 5.04 million homes sold on an annualized basis. That was down from the upwardly revised March sales pace of 5.21 million homes (earlier estimated at 5.19 million) and from expectations of 5.24 million properties expected to have been sold.
The housing market came alive in April, following some less-than-compelling comparisons earlier in the year. To wit, housing starts surged
just over 20% last month to an annualized rate of 1.135 million homes started. That was up from March's upwardly revised starts rate of 944,000 homes. Earlier, the March total had been estimated at 926,000 homes.
At 9:15 (EDT) this morning, the Commerce Department reported
another disquieting early second-quarter metric when it indicated that industrial production had dropped by a surprising 0.3% in April.
A gain of 0.1% had been the forecast. This report was yet one more suggestion that economic growth in the second quarter, albeit likely to be noticeably better than the opening-period's 0.2% rate, could well be little better than 2%. Earlier, the general assumption had been that GDP in the April-to-June span could be up by as much as 3%.
The consumer pulled back in April
according to data issued by the U.S. Commerce Department earlier this morning. On point, the report showed that overall spending was flat last month
; a gain of 0.1% had been the forecast. Moreover, if we back out the auto component from the mix, to get the so-called core rate of sales, we find that the increase was a token 0.1%. A gain of 0.5% had been the consensus forecast.
The so-called Goldilocks economy is back in vogue on Wall Street
, and traders and investors are happy with that state of affairs, to say the least. Specifically, a little earlier this morning, the U.S. Labor Department reported that the nation had added 223,000 new jobs last month--exactly in line with expectations.
The hoped-for second-quarter economic recovery just received a welcome boost this earlier morning, as the National Association of Purchasing Managers reported that its non-manufacturing survey had increased to a reading of 57.8 last month
. That level, not only was well above the dividing line between an expanding services sector and one that is contracting, which is at 50.0, but also was a bit above the consensus expectation for the latest month of 56.3.
Second-quarter economic numbers are starting to be released
, and after some mixed readings in consumer confidence and sentiment, and somewhat better data on a regional manufacturing activity and weekly jobless claims, the nation's manufacturing sector was surveyed, and the results did not make for good reading.