There were two important reports on the U.S. economy released this morning. First, data from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) showed that surveyed builders this month were slightly less confident in the market for newly built, single-family homes. Specifically, the NAHB’s housing market index registered 68.0 in April, worse better than expected but still one of the best readings of the current economic expansion. Regionally, builder confidence firmed in the West and Midwest in April, was unchanged in the South, and softened in the Northeast. Under the hood, the gauges of current sales conditions, prospective buyer traffic, and sales outlooks six months from now all deteriorated in April but NAHB chief economist Robert Dietz stressed that “the fact that the measure of current sales conditions has been over 70 for five consecutive months shows that there is continued demand for new construction.” However, Dietz also added that builders are still “facing several challenges, such as hefty regulatory costs and ongoing increases in building material prices.”
Elsewhere, a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York showed that manufacturing activity in the Northeast region of the country slowed considerably this month, with the general business conditions index plunging from March’s +16.4 print to just +5.2 in April. That was the second monthly decline in a row, significantly worse than expected, and the lowest headline reading since November. Under the hood, measures of new orders and hours worked deteriorated in April but shipments and total employment firmed. Further, surveyed managers’ overall outlook for general business conditions six months from now improved in April, and reported plans to boost both capital expenditures and technology investment increased markedly.
Sources: Econoday, Twitter, Bloomberg, ZH, NAHB, FRBNY, FRBSLPost author: Charles Couch