Today's economic data came in weaker than expected as Americans filing for first time unemployment benefits rose while growth in the U.S. was a bit less than expected. In addition, the housing market received some mixed news.
The Labor Department reported this morning that Weekly Initial Jobless Claims rose by 10,000 in the latest week to 354,000 and above the 340,000 that was expected. The labor markets are producing jobs at a modest rate, but not enough to bring down the stubbornly high unemployment rate, currently at 7.5%. The four-week moving average for new claims, which smoothes out seasonal abnormalities, edged up 6,750 to 347,250.
Growth in the first quarter of 2013 rose by 2.4%, as measured by the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data that was released this morning. GDP rose by 2.4% for the second reading for the first three months of the year and the Bureau of Economic Analysis said that overall economic activity is not greatly changed. GDP measures the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located across the nation. The last data point this morning was a decline in Pending Home Sales rising by only 0.3% in April and below the 1.5% increase expected. However, the index now stands at 106.0, the highest reading since April of 2010 and is up 10.3% since April of 2012. The National Association of Realtors said that due to inventory shortages, higher home sales will push up home values to the highest level in five years. The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes.