Pollack: Construction of Phoenix single-family homes up in Oct.

The Monday Morning Quarterback : A quick analysis of important economic data released over the past week

It was a short week for work and for data.  Thus, the Monday Morning Quarterback will also be shorter than usual.

U.S. Snapshot

Collection issues regarding the initial claims for unemployment insurance data have been resolved.  The most recent data is positive and suggests that the unemployment rate should continue to decline in the near future.  Initial claims are now 19% below year earlier levels.

The two major measures of consumer confidence went in different directions in November.  The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment index was slightly up in November from October-75.1 vs. 73.2.   The November reading was still 9.2% below a year ago.  The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index was slightly down-70.4 in November vs. 72.4 in October.  The November reading was down 1.5% from a year ago.  Thus, the expected rebound following the debt ceiling fiasco resolution was hard to find.

In other news, the index of leading indicators continued to rise.  It was up 0.2% in October after strong gains (0.9% and 0.7%) in September and August respectively.  New orders for durable goods were down in October by 2.0% but are still up from a year ago and home prices according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices were up 0.7% in September over August and 13.3% over a year earlier.

Arizona Snapshot

For Greater Phoenix, prices were up 1.2% and 18.6% for those time periods.  Also, new construction of Phoenix single-family homes was up 0.8% in October compared to September and up 8.8% over a year ago.

Retail sales in Arizona were up 5.7% in September over a year ago.  In Maricopa County, retail sales were up 6.2% over the same period.  The chart below shows a historical view of Maricopa County retail sales.

Phoenix single-family homes

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December 2013