At 8:30 A.M. (EDT), the Department of Housing and Urban Development
reported data on new residential construction
for the month of March. At first blush, the data looked mixed, as both building permits and housing starts showed some signs of continued unevenness.
The Federal Reserve's
widely anticipated and closely monitored Beige Book economic summation
was issued earlier this afternoon, and it provided few surprises. It also was generally well received, inducing an already strong stock market
to head even higher
after its 2:00 PM (EDT) release.
On the heels of a stronger, albeit slightly disappointing, issuance yesterday on March retail spending
, the Federal Reserve just moments ago reported that industrial production
at the nation's factories, mines, and utilities had fallen by 0.6% during that same month
. That decline was double the anticipated pullback.
The Commerce Department
issued some upbeat metrics
this morning when the government reported that retail spending recovered nicely in March
, posting its initial gain of the year. In all, Commerce affirmed that retail sales rose 0.9% last month. Although that was below expectations calling for an increase of 1.1%, the result was still an appreciable improvement over the weather-impacted February decline of 0.5%.
The non-manufacturing sector largely held steady in March, registering a result of 56.5 for the month. That was off just nominally from the 56.9 score inked in February, and the expectation of that amount for the latest month. Still, such a result suggested that growth remained rather appreciable in the services sector. This business category accounts for some two-thirds of the total economic output for the nation.
The Institute for Supply Management
, a trade group, affirmed that manufacturing
posted a March reading
. To be sure, such an outcome did reveal some further growth
, as the metric came in above the 50.0 dividing line between growth and contraction. However, the result was less than the 52.5 tabulation that had been expected, and was even further shy of the 52.9 reading estimated for February.
In an economy looking for a touch of good news these days, the Conference Board just provided it, as that research organization reported that its monthly survey on consumer confidence
had come in well ahead of expectations and also reversed the prior month's somewhat disappointing performance in this area.
New home sales
, which had been expected to decline notably in February, instead rose solidly last month to their best level in seven years, or well before the housing market's slump
had bottomed out. Furthermore, January's sales were revised higher, making it back-to-back wins for this critical economic sector.
Sales of previously owned homes nudged a bit higher in February, notwithstanding heavy snows in portions of the country, and in some cases, record low or near-record low temperatures. That was a reassuring performance by the recently slumping industry. This latest uptick, comes amid flagging data on housing starts, and was a sign that perhaps this key industry is on the mend, in spite of some disappointing economic data issuances in recent weeks.
The Federal Reserve
brought its latest two-day FOMC meeting
to a close earlier this afternoon and, as expected, dropped the word “patient”
in assessing just when it would begin increasing short-term interest rates
, namely the federal funds rate.