Investors had quite a few economic reports to sift through last week. Housing was a mixed bag. New home construction declined by one percent in February, but permits — a gauge of future building activity — jumped more than five percent, their highest level since October, 2008. Sales of previously owned homes fell by nearly one percent in February, but the winter selling season was the best in 5 years. New claims for jobless benefits declined by 5,000 to 348,000, a fresh 4-year low. In the week ahead, investors await reports on GDP, home prices and income.
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We’ll gain insight on the economy with the final estimate of fourth quarter GDP, which looks at all the goods and services produced from October through December. The second estimated was revised up to three percent due to higher consumer and business spending. This was the fastest pace of growth in 18 months.
We’ll get a read on housing with the January S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price index. In December, home prices a tktkt? .5 percent, marking four consecutive months of losses. Detroit, Atlanta and Chicago showed the biggest declines.
We’ll check the pulse of consumer spending and finances with the February Personal Income and Outlays Report. In January, consumers saw their wages increase slightly -this was the second straight month of gains – and spending edged up as well.