1. The third estimate of fourth quarter 2012 real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP)  reported a 0.4% increase at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), up from the second estimated 0.1% increase. The current estimate is the smallest quarterly increase since first quarter 2011. The third estimate is the “final” revision, in the sense that the numbers will not be revised again until next year when more data are available
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  3. Growth in investment in nonresidential structures is among GDP components revised —up from a 5.8% increase to a 16.7% increase

  4. Sequestration, a drag on the economy, went into effect on March 1. The effects to date are fairly minimal, but are expected to grow. One consequence has been the Federal Aviation Administration’s plans to close control towers at a number of smaller airports around the country. Most estimates project that the total effect of sequestration will reduce real GDP growth by 0.5%
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  6. Congress passed, and the president signed into law, a continuing resolution (CR) that keeps the federal government operating through the end of September. However, the CR leaves in place the $85 billion sequestration with only minor modifications
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  8. Problems with a proposed bank bailout for Cypress are a reminder that the Eurozone still faces a number of economic issues yet to be resolved and that these problems can still adversely affect financial markets and economies outside of the Eurozone
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  10. Total commercial construction spending increased 1.2% in February to $885.1 billion (SAAR).  Year-to-date (January and February) not seasonally adjusted (NSA) spending increased 6.6% compared to the same period in 2012. The February spending number includes the following:
    • Nonresidential building construction spending increased 0.6% to $297.8 billion, and year-to-date was also up 0.6% from 2012
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    • Heavy engineering (non-building) construction spending increased 0.9% to $277.8 billion, and year-to-date was up 2.1% from a year ago
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    • New residential construction spending increased 3.0% to $190.6 billion, and year-to-date was up 33.8% from a year ago
  1. Housing continues to improve:
    • Single-family housing starts advanced 0.5% to 618,000 (SAAR) in February, their highest level since June 2008. Single-family building permits rose a healthy 2.4% to 598,000 in February, also their highest level since June 2008
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    • The March NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) fell 2 points from February to 44, the second monthly decline in a row, indicating a pullback in optimism from the builders who may have become a bit overly optimistic
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    • New home sales dropped 4.6% to 411,000 (SAAR) in February after jumping 13.1% in January to 431,000 sales. Overall, new home sales still look healthy, averaging 408,000 per month over the previous three months compared to the average of 375,000 sales per month in the second half of 2012
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    • Rising housing prices indicate improvement in the housing market. The seasonally adjusted (SA) 20-city S&P/Case-Shiller® Home Price index increased 1.0% in January, its twelfth consecutive monthly increase.  On a year-over-year NSA basis, the 20-city index was up 8.1%. For the second month in a row, home prices were up in all of the 20 cities on a monthly SA basis. Further, home prices for all 20 cities were also higher on a year-over-year basis
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    • Meanwhile, the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA)  Purchase-Only Home Price Index also reported rising house prices, increasing 0.6% (SA) in January, its twelfth consecutive monthly increase. On a year-over-year NSA basis, the index increased 6.5%
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    • Multifamily housing starts rose 1.4% to 299,000 (SAAR)  in February after plummeting 19.2% in January. The 3-month moving average, which smooths out these erratic monthly movements, was up 3.0% to 320,000 from January—its highest level since July 2008
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    • The February 3-month moving average of multifamily building permits increased 1.4% to 334,000 from 329,000 in January. February average permits were the highest since August 2008
  1. The February AIA Architecture Billings Index (ABI) inched up to 54.9 from 54.2 in January. The February reading was the highest for the ABI since November 2007 and the seventh month in a row with a reading above 50. An ABI above 50 indicates increased billings and is viewed as a positive for future commercial construction
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  3. The February Producer Price Index (PPI) for finished goods rose 0.7% (SA) following a 0.2% increase in January. On a year-over-year NSA basis, the February PPI was up 1.7%
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  5. A price index for inputs used in nonresidential construction, excluding capital equipment, jumped 1.3% (NSA) in February after moving up 0.6% in January. The index was up 1.7% (NSA) from February 2012
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  7. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.7% (SA) in February after no change in January and December. The NSA CPI was up 2.0% from February 2012. Core CPI, which excludes food and energy prices, increased 0.2% (SA) in February following a 0.3% rise in January and increased 2.0% (NSA) from February 2012