The economy grew 2.2% in the fourth quarter last year, with GDP unchanged from the government’s previous estimate. While consumer spending and exports were revised higher, that was offset by a decline in business investment. Consumer spending increased to 4.4% – the fastest rate since 2006, while exports rose 4.5%, up from 3.2%. The value of business inventories was lowered to $80 billion.
On a downbeat note, durable goods orders slipped 1.4% in February, marking the third decline in four months, as demand for aircraft, autos and machinery fell. Core orders, which excludes military goods and aircraft, also fell 1.4% – the sixth decline in a row.
Consumers paid higher prices in February for the first time in four months, as consumer prices rose .2%. Higher costs for energy, food and housing contributed to the increase. For the month, energy prices rose 1% on higher gas prices, and food prices rose .2%.
On a positive note, new home sales jumped 7.8% to an annual pace of 539,000, marking the best month in seven years. And at the current sales pace, there is a 4.7 month supply of new homes on the market – the lowest since June 2013.
Sales of existing homes rose 1.2% last month to an annual rate of 4.88 million. With that, the inventory of existing homes for sale for February was 1.89 million – a 4.6 month supply at the current sales pace.