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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Construction Industry Economic Indicators

Retail sales increased 0.8 percent in March, a more than doubling of the 0.3 percent gain expected by the consensus. A 3.0 percent surge in sales at building materials and garden supply centers fueled the gain.

Housing starts posted another disappointing pullback in March, falling 5.8 percent. Much of the decline was in the volatile multifamily component, which dropped 16.9 percent. Weather may also still have had an effect.

The March index of leading economic indicators pointed to a continued moderate pace of economic growth. The index improved 0.3 percent, led by gains in financial indicators, while consumer numbers were weak.

Sales of existing homes fell 2.6 percent in March to a 4.48 million-unit pace, which was below consensus. While the pullback is disappointing, we are likely only seeing payback from the milder-than-usual winter.

Industrial production was unchanged in March, the second-consecutive month of zero growth in production, though it was still 5.4 percent higher at an annualized rate than in the fourth quarter of 2011.

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