A flurry of new economic reports helped fuel a rally on Wall Street this week by showing that growth may not be as inflationary as feared.
The Commerce Department said March housing starts declined 6.4 percent to a 1.425 million annual rate after rising 10.7 percent the month before. The March pace is just below the 1.474 million pace averaged for all of last year.
The Labor Department reported that first-time jobless claims increased by 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 332,000 in the week ended April 12 after rising the prior week by 12,000.
The Commerce Department said the U.S. trade deficit in goods and services narrowed in February to $11.589 billion, as both imports and exports set records. The January deficit was $12.667 billion.
Output at factories, mines and utilities increased 0.9 percent last month - the biggest gain since April 1996 - led by production of goods such as home appliances and autos, the Federal Reserve said. Factory output grew at a 5.6 percent annual rate in the first quarter.