US Economic Indicators for Today: CPI Best Showing Since 2003; Housing Starts Up 4.5%

Here is a quick summary of today's key economic indicators: CPI up 2.5% in 2006, the best showing since 2003; New Home Constructions in December rose 4.5%; Initial jobless claims last week fell 8,000. 


The Labor Department reported Thursday that the Consumer Price Index climbed by 2.5% last year, the best showing since 2003 and nearly a full percentage point lower than the 3.4% jump in 2005. The Consumer Price Index rose by 0.5% in December

The CPI report showed that core inflation, which excludes energy and food costs, rose 2.6% last year, compared with 2.2% gains in both 2004 and 2005. It was highest increase since a 2.7% jump in 2001.

Wages increased at 2.1% inflation-adjusted for the 80% of the work force in nonsupervisory positions, the biggest gain since 1997 and followed three straight years in which wages, after adjusting for inflation, had fallen.

Health care costs rose by 3.6% in 2006, the smallest annual gain since 1998.

New Home Constructions:

Commerce Department reported that construction of new homes rose by 4.5% in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.642 million units. It was the second straight monthly increase and a signal, according to some analysts, that the worst of the housing slump may be over.

Initial Jobless Claims:

The Labor Department reported that applications for jobless benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 290,000, down 8,000 from the previous week when claims had fallen below 300,000 for the first time in six months, and the lowest level in 11 months. 


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