New Home Sales
New Home Sales fell in January by -6.9% to a 607k annualized rate (estimates at 620k). December’s print was revised up to 652k from 621k, while November also saw a positive revision up to 628k from 599k. Even though we see a decent trend at the end of last year, sales are still down -4.1% from a year ago. The number of homes on the market was down -5k to 336k, now the first drop in ten months. The month’s supply of sales moved up .3 to 6.6, while the average price of homes sold ticked down -.2% to $373.1k, and the median price fell -.6% to $317.2k. Looking by region, we see a +27.8% increase in the West, down -15.1% in the South, down -28.6% in the Midwest, and down -11.4% in the Northeast.
Import Prices rose by +.6% in February, primarily off increases in the costs of fuels and consumer goods. This is now the biggest jump since back in May of last year and follows the upwardly revised +.1% in January. Excluding petrol-based products, import prices rose a modest +.1%.
Looking year-over-year at the headline number, prices fell
-1.3% following the -1.6% year-over-year in January.
February PPI rose by +.1% at both the headline and core levels, coming in slightly below expectations of a +.2% increase. Results for January were unrevised from their initial release of -.1% headline and +.3% in core. Looking year-over-year now, PPI is up +1.9%, while the core is up +2.5%. Within the February report, we see stronger energy prices somewhat offset by more weakness in the food sectors.
CPI for February posted a +.2% rise month-over-month on headline, while the core increased by +.1%. Expectations were for +.2% on both, so they are mostly in-line with market consensus. This now brings the year-over-year numbers to +1.5% on headline and +2.1% on core. Within the report, energy prices rose by +.4%, while food and beverage also increased by +.4%. At the core level, housing inflation was up, while transportation prices ex-fuel and medical care prices were both on the weaker side. Bottom line, this report today is just another reason for the Fed to remain on hold as a lack of inflationary pressures ceases to develop.
January’s headline Retail Sales rose unexpectedly by +.2% vs. the downwardly revised December print of -1.6%
(previously -1.2%). January’s core sales (ex-autos, gasoline, building materials) increased by +1.1% vs. December’s revised -2.3% (originally reported being down -1.7%). Overall, not all convincing that the consumer is buying more and even with a nice rebound in January, this probably does not change many expectations for slower growth in Q1.