3/26: MetroIntelligence Economic Update by P. DUFFY

March U.S. Composite Output Index plummets record 18.3 percent to 40.5

The overall Markit Flash U.S. Composite Output Index plummeted from 49.6 in February to 40.5 in March (50 is the split between growth and decline). This is both the largest decline in a decade and a new series low. Service sector activity fell from 49.4 in February to 39.1 in March, a new series low. Manufacturing purchasing managers index fell from 50.7 in February to 49.2 in March, a 127-month low. Manufacturing output index fell from 50.7 to 47.6, also a 127-month low.



Gallup: Economic Confidence Index plummets by almost half in March

The COVID-19 pandemic fueled major stock market losses in recent weeks, and Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index fell from +41 in February to +22 in March, one of the largest monthly declines in survey history. U.S. economic confidence is likely even lower now than what the March 2-13 poll suggests, given that economic evaluations were significantly worse during the second week of interviewing than the first. But the weekly internal results suggest economic confidence was already declining before the rapid spread of the virus in the U.S. the week of March 9.



Gallup: 82 percent of Americans confident about meeting job requirements during outbreak

As employers in the U.S. scramble to adapt their businesses to survive in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than eight in 10 American workers are very (37%) or somewhat (45%) confident they will be able to successfully continue to meet their job requirements should the outbreak continue. A slim 53% majority of workers agree that they are well prepared to do their jobs.



February new home sales dipped 4.4 percent from January but still up 14.3 percent year-on-year

Pre-pandemic February new home sales fell 4.4 percent from January to an annual rate of 765,000, but were still up 14.3 percent year-on-year. The inventory timeline rebounded from 4.8 to 5.0 months of supply, but was still down sharply from 6.1 months year-on-year. The median sales price rose to $345,000 in February, up from $325,300 in January and $320,800 the same month of 2019.



Mortgage applications fall 29.4 percent in weekly report due to rising rates and uncertainty

The Market Composite Index decreased 29.4 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier, with purchase loans falling 15 percent to the lowest level since August 2019 (and also down 11 percent year-on-year) and refinance activity falling 34 percent (but still up 195 percent year-on-year). The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 3.82 percent from 3.74 percent.