Consumer economic outlook fades; new home sales hit 13-year low.
Consumers are growing more pessimistic about the economy amid continued declines in the labor and housing markets. Here's a look at this week's economic developments and how they may affect your business.
Consumer Confidence Fades
Growing concerns over personal income and the job market kept consumer confidence at a five-year low in March, the Conference Board reported Tuesday.
Based on a survey of 5,000 U.S. households, the New York-based research group's consumer confidence index dropped to 64.5, down from 76.4 in February. Fewer consumers expected their income to improve in the months ahead, while more anticipated a downturn in the job market.
"Consumers' outlook for business conditions, the job market and their income prospects is quite pessimistic and suggests further weakening may be on the horizon," Lynn Franco, the group's director of consumer research, said in a statement.
New Home Sales Down
Sales of new homes declined by 1.8 percent in February to 13-year low annual rate of 590,000 units, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.
By the end of the month, there were 471,000 new homes left unsold on the market, enough for a 9.8 month supply at the current sales pace. Despite the declines, median sales prices rose by $18,500 last month to $244,100.
New home sales have now fallen by nearly 30 percent over the past 12 months.
Jobless Claims Dip
The number of new claims for unemployment benefits fell by 9,000 last week to 366,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate the previous week was 2.1 percent, representing about 2,845 million people filing for benefits.
The biggest declines in new claims last week were in California, New York and Wisconsin, while increases were reported in Michigan, Ohio, and Missouri.