- The Leading Economic Index fell by 1.2% in March, its 12th straight decline
- Existing home sales fell 2.4% in March
- Continuing unemployment claims were 1.87 million in the week ended April 8th
Top Three Market Headlines
Leading Economic Indicators Continue Falling: The Conference Board announced last week that its Leading Economic Index (LEI), a composite of ten U.S. economic indicators intended to signal turning points in the economy, fell by 1.2% in March. This was the 12th consecutive monthly decline, and pushed the index down to its lowest level since November 2020. Weakness has been widespread across the component indicators over the last six months, with only two — stock prices and manufacturers' new orders — contributing positively over that time. According to the Conference Board, the declining data is consistent with "worsening economic conditions ahead.
Home Sales Rebound Stalls in March: After jumping to a five-month high in February, sales of existing homes in the U.S. retreated 2.4% in March, according to a report last week from the National Association of Realtors. While the seasonally-adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of 4.44 million home sales was the second-highest in the last six months, it was still 22% below the level seen in March of last year, reflecting the effect of rising mortgage rates on the housing market over this time. For the second straight month, the median existing home sales price declined compared to the prior year.
Jobless Claims on the Rise: The U.S. Department of Labor reported last week that new claims for unemployment insurance rose by 5,000 in the week ended April 15th from the prior week to 245,000 (seasonally-adjusted). The four-week moving average was 239,750, up from just under 200,000 in late January. The recent rise coincides with an upward trend in continuing jobless claims, which hit 1.87 million for the week ended April 8th. This was up from 1.80 million in the prior week and was the highest level since November 2021. Continuing claims have risen steadily over the last six months, and now stand 45% above their post-pandemic low of 1.29 million in early September 2022.