New orders for durable manufactured goods decreased 0.5 percent to $235.5 billion in April, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This decrease, down two of the last three months, followed a 5.1 percent increase in March. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.5 percent.
“[I]f the economy continues to improve as I expect, I think it will be appropriate at some point this year to take the initial step to raise the federal funds rate target and begin the process of normalizing monetary policy,” Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen said in a speech at the Providence Chamber of Commerce in Rhode Island.
The Consumer Price Index increased 0.1 percent in April on a seasonally adjusted basis, as further declines in energy was offset by an increase in all items less food and energy, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Over the last 12 months, the CPI declined 0.1 percent SAAR — the third year-over-year decline in 2015.
Existing home sales declined 3.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.04 million, down from an upwardly revised 5.21 million in March. Existing home sales remain 6.1 percent higher than last year, despite last month’s decline.
Many participants said that a June rate hike is unlikely, according to the minutes from the April 17-19 Federal Open Market Committee meeting. However, a few participants anticipated that conditions for beginning policy firming will have been met by June.
Housing starts in April rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.135 million, 20.2 percent above the revised March estimate of 944,000 and 9.2 percent above the April 2014 rate of 1.039 million. Single-family housing starts grew at a rate of 733,000, 16.7% above the revised March figure of 628,000.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) fell two points to a level of 54 in May, but increased nine points from May 2014.
Industrial production decreased 0.3 percent in April, the fifth consecutive monthly loss. From April 2014, the index increased 1.9 percent.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced in its Q1 2015 Household Debt and Credit Report, that total household debt reached $11.85 trillion, up only $24 billion from last quarter.