- The Federal Reserve’s January meeting minutes showed that the central bank anticipates its next interest-rate hike fairly soon due to the improving economy and possible faster-than-anticipated inflation growth under the Trump administration.
- Preliminary estimates of Markit’s February purchasing managers’ manufacturing index showed decreasing momentum in orders and production. Domestic orders remained strong. Costs were at a two-and-a-half-year high, while selling prices were flat.
- Mortgage purchase applications slid by 3% for the week ending February 17, while refinancing applications fell by 1% (to the lowest level since January), as mortgage rates continued to climb.
- Existing-home sales surged 3.3% in January to the best rate since February 2007, despite declining stock and rising mortgage rates. Single-family homes led growth, while condo sales were also strong. Median sales prices increased at the fastest pace in a year.
- New-home sales rose to an annualized 555,000 pace in January, below consensus but still solid, as the number of new homes on the market increased to the highest level since mid-2009.
- Initial jobless claims expanded by 5,000 to 244,000 for the week ending February 18, while the four-week moving average of 241,000 was the lowest since July 1973. Continuing claims for the week ending February 11 declined by 17,000 to 2.07 million.
- The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment reading came in at a higher-than-expected 96.3 in February — indicating continued strength despite retracting slightly from the 13-year high reached in January (due to moderating consumer expectations).
- Economic activity in the eurozone reached the highest level in almost six years, with the flash composite Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for February climbing to 56.0 from 54.4 in the previous month. Manufacturing activity accelerated despite expectations for slower growth, and services growth jumped sharply. Composite PMIs for Germany and France led.
- The British economy grew 0.7% in the fourth quarter and 2.2% year over year — driven by trade and consumer spending, while business investment was weak. Many economists believe that prospects for growth in the U.K. may be hurt by Brexit in the nearterm, with openness of trade representing the largest issue. The bill is now being debated in the House of Lords, where some members will likely try to revise the proposal.
- Japan’s flash manufacturing PMI reading of 53.5 beat estimates and showed that manufacturing activity in Japan improved at the fastest rate in nearly three years.
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