New Home Sales Rising, Orders for Durable Goods Rising

New home sales rose 2.3% in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 454,000 units from a rate of 444,000 units in March. On a year-over-year basis, new home sales were 29% higher than April 2012. At the current sales pace, there is a 4.1-month supply of new homes on the market.

Retail sales rose 0.2% for the week ending May 18, according to the ICSC-Goldman Sachs index. On a year-over-year basis, retailers saw sales increase 3.1%.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending May 17 fell 9.8%. Purchase volume fell 3%. Refinancing applications decreased 12%.

Existing home sales rose 0.6% in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.97 million units from 4.94 million units in March. Compared to a year ago, existing home sales were up 9.7% in April. The inventory of unsold homes on the market rose 11.9% to 2.16 million in April, a 5.2-month supply at the current sales pace, up from a 4.7-month supply in March.

Orders for durable goods — items expected to last three or more years — increased $7.2 billion, or 3.3%, to $222.6 billion in April. This follows a 5.9% decrease in March. Excluding volatile transportation-related goods, March orders posted a monthly increase of 1.3%.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending May 18 fell by 23,000 to 340,000. Continuing claims for the week ending May 11 fell by 112,000 to 2.912 million, a new recovery low. The less volatile four-week average of claims for unemployment benefits was 339,500.

Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on the housing price index on May 28 and gross domestic product and pending home sales onMay 30.