A tame revision in the Gross Domestic Product from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and an as-expected report on initial jobless claims from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, both released this morning (March 27), provided no new evidence of recession but did little to bolster confidence on Wall Street.
Stocks rallyed at market open but later traded mixed on the news, with the Dow off less than a half percent and the NASDAQ off a more significant 1.3% by 11 a.m. An early rally in builder stocks sparked by a lower-than-expected loss at Lennar Corp. (NYSE:LEN) fizzled by 11 but turned around again by noon, with Lennar up 4.6%.
At the same time, Bankrate.com reported that the average conforming 30-year mortgage rate had fallen to 5.95% this week, with the average adjustable rate mortgage rising to 6.25%. The average for a 30-year jumbo mortgage declined slightly to 7.37%.
The BLS confirmed its earlier estimate of annualized GDP growth of 0.6% in the fourth quarter of 2007, which was seen positively on Wall Street since this report is based on more complete data than earlier estimates. The number, anemic at best, particularly when compared with 4.9% GDP growth in the previous quarter, was boosted by personal consumption expenditures, exports, nonresidential structures, state and local government spending, and equipment and software that were largely offset by negative contributions from private investment and residential fixed investment. Imports decreased.
Meantime, the BLS report came in as expected, reporting a decrease of 9,000 first-time claims for jobless benefits to a total of 366,000 for the week ending March 22. The four-week moving average, however, was 358,000, an increase of 1,750 from the previous week's revised average of 356,250, which indicated continuing sluggishness in employment.