Recent Updates

  • US: GDP by Industry (Q1), Consumer Sentiment (Jul - prelim)
  • Belgium: Retail Trade (May), Consumer Confidence Survey (Jul)
  • Canada: Retail Trade (May)
  • Canada Regional: Retail Trade by Province (May)
  • Spain: Number of Employees (Q1), Synthetic Indicators (Apr-Jun)
  • more updates...

Economy in Brief

Import Prices Up Twice Expectations
by Tom Moeller April 7, 2004

Imported commodities prices jumped 0.9% in March, nearly double the Consensus expectation for a 0.5% rise.

The surge was led by a 6.1% m/m jump in petroleum prices. In early April, the price of Brent Crude Oil is down 7.1% versus the March average to $31.41/bbl.

Non-petroleum import prices rose a modest 0.2%. Since 1990 there has been a 35% correlation between the y/y change in non-petroleum import prices and the change in core US consumer goods prices.

Capital goods import prices were unchanged for the second consecutive month (-0.6% y/y) reflecting the continued decline in computer prices (-4.2% y/y). Non-auto consumer goods prices were unchanged, also for the second month (0.8% y/y). Apparel prices continued weak (-0.1% y/y). Auto prices rose a slight 0.1% for the second month (1.3% y/y) but industrial supplies & materials prices surged 3.3%. Less fuels these prices rose 2.5% (10.3% y/y).

Export prices jumped 0.9%, the largest one-month gain since April 1995. Agricultural export prices continued strong with a 3.3% gain (20.7% y/y). Nonagricultural export prices rose 0.6% (1.9% y/y). Capital goods export prices rose 0.3% (-0.2% y/y) and non-auto consumer goods prices were unchanged for the third consecutive month (0.5% y/y).

"Inflation Signals and Inflation Noise" from St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President William Poole is available here.

Import/Export Prices (NSA) Mar Feb Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Import - All Commodities 0.9% 0.4% 1.2% 2.9% -2.5% -3.5%
  Petroleum 6.1% 0.1% 1.9% 21.0% 3.0% -17.2%
  Non-petroleum 0.2% 0.4% 1.0% 1.1% -2.4% -1.5%
Export - All Commodities 0.9% 0.7% 3.4% 1.6% -1.0% -0.8%
Mortgage Applications for Purchase Jump, Refi's Drop
by Tom Moeller April 7, 2004

The index of mortgage applications compiled by the Mortgage Bankers Association dropped 7.2% last week, the third consecutive weekly decline.

The decline in the total applications index reflected a 15.0% w/w drop in mortgage refinancings (-33.0% y/y). Purchase applications jumped 7.6% (19.1% y/y) following a 1.1% decline the prior week.

During the last ten years there has been a 56% correlation between the y/y change in purchase applications and the change in new plus existing home sales.

The effective interest rate on a conventional 30-Year mortgage rose to 6.01% from 5.75% the prior week. The effective rate on a 15-year mortgage rose to 5.38%, about its highest level this year.

The Mortgage Bankers Association surveys between 20 to 35 of the top lenders in the U.S. housing industry to derive its refinance, purchase and market indexes. The weekly survey accounts for more than 40% of all applications processed each week by mortgage lenders. Visit the Mortgage Bankers Association site here.

MBA Mortgage Applications (3/16/90=100) 04/02/04 03/26/04 2003 2002 2001
Total Market Index 1,012.9 1,091.3 1,067.9 799.7 625.6
  Purchase 477.5 443.8 395.1 354.7 304.9
  Refinancing 4,126.7 4,857.6 4,981.8 3,388.0 2,491.0
close
large image