Only minor changes are being realized in the economic data on a month-to-month, or ever a quarter-to-quarter basis. Expect home price appreciation to remain sluggish for the first half of the year or so. The very cold winter months are now turning into warmer, more productive months. This will add to economic activity and should be seen in the numbers shortly. Improvements in employment and output should help to further strengthen the recently improving consumer confidence readings.
- In March, the composite index for consumer confidence was a higher than expected 82.3, up from 78.3 a month ago. “Normal” is benched at 100. The University of Michigan index has held steady and remains at 80.0.
- Manufacturer’s new orders for durable goods rebounded 2.2% in February, following a decrease of 1.3% in January. Over the year, durable orders slowed to 0.2% growth in February. As of February, year-to-date durable orders increased 2.2% over the same period last year.
- New home sales in February decreased 3.3% from a month ago, and are 1.1% below the February 2013 estimate.
- For Arizona, the employment figures are picking up where 2013 ended with a 2.1% rate of growth through February. Eight of the eleven major sectors reported job gains while three sectors reported job losses (manufacturing, other services, and government). Through February, Arizona ranks 11th nationally in terms of employment growth.
- As the charts below show, Greater Phoenix has now regained 63% of the jobs lost during the recession. The state as a whole is lagging slightly with 56% recovery.
- The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price index for the Phoenix market declined 0.2% over the month but was up 13.8% from a year ago.