- U.S. demand for durable goods bounced back and real estate data was mixed. In the U.K. economic expansion slowed in the fourth quarter, while eurozone consumer sentiment surged.
- The U.S. economy grew at a 2.2% annual rate in the fourth quarter, which was slower than initial estimates and significantly less than the 5% rate in the third quarter.
- Durable goods orders increased a surprising 2.8% in January, on a rebound in transportation orders (including aircraft). Excluding transportation, the figure was slower than anticipated but still an improvement on the prior month’s contraction.
- Initial jobless claims unexpectedly surged by 31,000 to 313,000 for the week ending February 21, increasing the four-week moving average (which evens out weekly volatility). Continuing claims (reflecting delayed data) fell by 21,000 for the week of February 14.
- New home sales surprised in January, maintaining December’s surge. A reduction in median home prices may have contributed, underscoring price weakness in a disappointing existing home sales report that showed activity down by almost 5% in January.
- Home prices in 20 U.S. cities increased in December at the fastest pace since March 2014, according to the S&P/CaseShiller Home Price Index report. The upward trend was validated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s December report.
- Consumer prices continued to fall in January, as expected, Energy prices detracted the most, while automobiles, tobacco and alcohol prices also dropped. Excluding food and energy, prices modestly gained during the month.
- The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index showed that U.S. consumers were more optimistic than forecasted in February, as final readings outpaced mid-month estimates. The Conference Board saw consumer sentiment decline from multiyear highs in February, driven by deteriorating expectations.
- The U.K. economy advanced by 0.5% in the fourth quarter, in line with preliminary estimates but below the third quarter’s 0.7% gain. Strong household consumption and exports contributed, while business consumption fell to its lowest rate in almost six years. Annualized growth remains unchanged at 2.7%, the highest rate since 2007.
- The Confederation of British Industry upgraded its forecast for 2015 economic growth, prompted by expectations for low price growth, increased household spending, and greater employment.
- Eurozone consumer prices continued to slide in January, as projected, to the lowest rate since 2009. Excluding volatile items (energy, food, alcohol, tobacco), year-over-year prices moved higher.
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