The U.S. non-manufacturing sector grew for the first time since August 2008. The Institute for Supply Management reported the monthly index of non-manufacturing activity rose to 50.9 in September from 48.4 in August. A reading above 50 signals expansion. Big gains were made in new orders, up more than four points to 54.2; backlog of orders, up 10.5 points to 51.5; and productivity, up nearly four points to 55.1.
According to the ICSC-Goldman Sachs index, retail sales rose 0.3% in the week ending October 3. On a year-over-year basis, retailers saw sales increase by 1%, the second-best showing in a year.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage applications for the week ending October 2 rose 16.4% to 756.3, the highest level since May. Purchase volume rose 13.2% to 306.1. Refinancing applications increased 18.2% to 3,377.1.
According to the Federal Reserve, consumer credit debt fell for the seventh straight month in August by $12 billion, an annual rate of 5.8%. Economists had forecast consumer debt would drop $10 billion. Total consumer credit debt in August was $2.46 trillion.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 33,000 to 521,000 in the week ending October 3. The figure was lower than the 540,000 that economists had forecast. The number of people continuing to claim jobless benefits in the week ending September 26 fell by 72,000 to 6.04 million.
The Commerce Department said wholesalers reduced their inventories by 1.3% in August, following a revised 1.6% drop in July. It was the 12th straight monthly decline. Meanwhile, sales at the wholesale level rose 1% in August, the largest increase since June 2008.
Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on retail sales on October 14 and consumer inflation on October 15.
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