National economy, residential sector shows considerable improvement in Q1

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the first quarter of this year, after having exhibited just 0.4 percent growth during the last quarter of 2012.

Real estate and lending professionals may benefit by preparing for heightened business conditions in the coming months, as recent improvements have been seen in both the national housing market and overall economy. 

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the first quarter of this year, after having exhibited just 0.4 percent growth during the last quarter of 2012. Improvement was largely credited to positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures, mortgage records, exports and private inventory investment, as well as residential investment and nonresidential fixed investment, which helped offset negative contributions from local, state and federal government spending.

"The economy is in a battle between fiscal drag on one side and monetary stimulus on the other," Jim O'Sullivan, chief U.S. economist for High-Frequency Economics, told CBS News. "There are negatives out there for sure with foreign growth weak in Europe and the fiscal drag. But monetary stimulus is still substantial, the Fed is still easing and financial conditions are easing, so there are more pluses than minuses."

Jobless claims show weekly decline
On the heels of quarterly economic improvement, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims decreased by 16,000 during the week ending April 20, which moved the total down to 339,000 from the preceding week's revised figure of 355,000. Accordingly, the four-week moving average was observed at 357,500, showing a decrease of 4,500 from the revised average of 362,000 recorded the week before.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate, which is reported on a two-week lag, was noted at 2.3 percent for the week ending April 13, according to the Labor Department. This figure is a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week's unrevised rate. Meanwhile, the advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate during the same week was reportedly 3,000,000 - exhibiting a decrease of 93,000 from the prior week's revised level of 3,093,000.

New-housing permits, starts, completions up year-over-year
As fewer foreclosed houses and existing-homes populate residential sectors across America, construction professionals may be increasing efforts to keep up with mounting demand for new housing. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently released a report detailing annual gains in new residential building, as permits, starts and completions all showed substantial improvement from their year-ago levels in March. While the latest figures may have seen slight slips month-over-month, the upcoming spring homebuying season may bring heightened numbers, as interest continues to grow considerably.



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