The housing market continued to be affected by the harsh weather across much of the nation, as new home sales declined to a five-month low in February, coming in at 440,000. Pending home sales also declined in February while the Case Shiller 20-city Home Price Index rose 13.2 percent annually in January. This was down from the 13.4 percent in December and lower than expected. It will be important to see if the housing market responds as the weather improves around the country.
In labor market news, weekly initial jobless claims fell to a four-month low of 311,000. In addition, the four-week moving average of claims, which irons out seasonal abnormalities, declined to 317,750 the lowest level since September. The drop in claims signals an improving labor market, and next week’s Jobs Report for March may provide further confirmation.
Consumer confidence rose to 82.3 in March, well above expectations and the February’s reading. This was the highest level since January 2008.