Housing And Building
Data this morning was positive all around. Housing starts for April rose 5.7% on top of an upwardly revised 1.7% increase in the March reading. This brings the annualized rate of starts to 1.235 million, a 3-month high.
Building permits, a decent proxy for future construction, rose 0.6% with positive revisions to the March number, taking it from -1.7% to -0.2%. Within the permits data, the multi-family permits number is running 26% above multi-family starts, which augurs more growth.
The Labor Department reported that state-level unemployment claims dropped 16,000 to 212,000 for the week ending May 11. No revisions were given to the prior number. The overall unemployment rate remains near a 50-year low of 3.6%. While the number of people receiving benefits decreased by 28,000, the four-week moving average of continuing benefit claims rose 1,500 to 1.67 million.
Regional Fed Data
Regional Fed data–important sentiment gauges–continue to firm. The Philadelphia Fed came in at 16.6 points, a four month high, and well above the forecast of 9.0. Within the details, employment rose to 18.2 from 14.7, and shipments, a closely watched category re: demand, was up. New orders softened to 11.0 from 15.7, but overall a very positive report.