On the upside, the number of people filing for unemployment benefits fell last week to an eight-year low. For the week ended July 19th, jobless claims fell to 284,000 – the lowest since February 2006.
In more choppy housing data, last month sales of new homes fell 8.1% to an annual pace of 406,000, as tight lending rules, mortgage rates and more expensive properties are moderating activity in the market. The median price of a new home rose to $273,500.
On a positive note, sales of existing homes rose 2.6% last month to an annual pace of 5.04 million units – the fastest pace in eight months, and the third straight month that the pace of sales accelerated. Adding support to sales, more homes are being put on the market, with the number of existing homes available rising to 2.3 million in June – the highest since August 2012.
After declining 1% in May, durable goods orders rose .7% last month on demand for a range of goods from computers to transportation equipment. In a signal of further momentum, unfilled orders increased .8% after rising .7% in May.
Consumer prices rose .3% in June, as the cost of gasoline surged. Gasoline prices accounted for two-thirds of the rise in consumer prices, and minus that, the data points to a more gradual buildup of inflation.