Economy Watch: Service Industries, Home Price Increases

Service industries are generally enjoying healthy revenue growth. Home prices dropped by 0.1 percent month over month.

The Census Bureau released its third-quarter revenue estimates for a number of U.S. service industries on Wednesday, adjusted for seasonal variation but not for price changes. For instance, real estate and rental and leasing revenue for the third quarter was $133 billion, an increase of 4.1 percent from the second quarter of 2014, and up 7.1 percent from the same quarter a year earlier. The first quarter to second quarter 2014 percent change wasn’t revised from 7.7 percent.

Transportation and warehousing revenue was $223 billion in the third quarter, up 2.4 percent quarter over quarter and 7.1 percent year over year. Information sector revenue for the third quarter of 2014 came in at $336.5 billion, an increase of 1 percent from the second quarter of 2014 and up 5 percent from the third quarter of 2013.

The hotel business had a good quarter, with accommodation revenue up 4.7 percent, scoring a total of $60.1 billion for the quarter, according to the bureau. The year-over-year gain was also 4.7 percent. Healthcare and social assistance revenues were up 0.5 percent for the quarter, coming in $568.6 billion. One of the few service-sector industries to suffer declining revenues during the quarter was educational services, down 3.8 percent.

Home Price Increases Ebb in October

FNC reported on Wednesday that its Residential Price Index (a 100-MSA composite index) decreased 0.1 percent from September to October. The company’s other indexes – 10-MSA, 20 MSA and 30 MSA) all dropped between 0.1 percent and 0.3 percent during the same period. The indexes aren’t seasonally adjusted, and are for non-distressed home sales (excluding REO sales and short sales).

The year-over-year change was lower in October than in September, with the FNC 100-MSA composite up 5.7 percent compared to October 2013. The annual increases as reported by FNC have been slowing down since February, when that metric stood at 9.3 percent.

Congressional negotiators, apparently eager to avoid another government shutdown, finalized a deal on a $1.1 trillion federal spending bill that would prevent a shutdown, which otherwise would have happened at midnight on Thursday. The bill funds every government agency but the Department of Homeland Security through next September, and mostly keeps fiscal 2015 domestic spending unchanged.

Wall Street, partly dragged down by energy stocks – the price of oil dropped sharply during the day — lost ground on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average off 268.05 points, or 1.51 percent. The S&P 500 dropped 1.64 percent and the Nasdaq was off 1.72 percent.