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Last Week in the News

Retail sales rose 0.3% to $381.57 billion in January after a 0.5% increase in December. It was the seventh straight monthly gain but the smallest since June. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales rose 7.8%.Total business inventories rose 0.8% in December to $1.44 trillion, the highest level since January 2009. Total business sales rose 1.1% to $1.15 trillion in December, the highest level since September 2008.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo housing market index was unchanged in February for the fourth consecutive month at 16. An index reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market.

The combined construction of new single-family homes and apartments in January rose 14.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 596,000 units. Single-family starts fell 1%. Multifamily starts rose 77.7%. Applications for new building permits, seen as an indicator of future activity, fell 10.4% to an annual rate of 562,000 units.

The producer price index, which tracks wholesale price inflation, rose 0.8% in January after a revised 0.9% increase in December. Core prices — excluding food and fuel — rose 0.5% in January.

Industrial production at the nation’s factories, mines and utilities fell 0.1% in January, following a revised 1.2% increase in December. Compared to a year ago, industrial production is up 5.2%. Capacity utilization was 76.1% in January.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose by 25,000 to 410,000 for the week ending February 12. Continuing claims for the week ending February 5 rose by 1,000 to 3.9 million.

Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on the housing price index on February 22, existing home sales on February 23 and new home sales on February 24.

courtsey:Michael Burwell-Callero,Cell: (877) 524-1125

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