The Iowa Department of Revenue reported a slight improvement in July in its monthly index of leading indicators, fueled by an increase in building permits and stocks of Iowa companies.
The 12-month moving average of building permits increased to 702 from 679 in June, which was the highest level in four years. "The Iowa housing market appears to be in recovery, despite permits still being 30.8 percent below the historical July average of 1,209 (1998-2008)," according to the report.
The second most positive contributor in July was the Iowa stock market index. Of the 34 stocks included in the index, 26 had increases in share prices in the month of July, including 10 of the 11 financial-sector companies. Those gains were enough to push the index back into positive territory for the month after two months of declines.
In all, the Iowa Leading Indicators Index recorded a positive change of 0.2 percent from 105.1 in June. Positives
- Unemployment insurance claims were 15.2 percent below the number of claims made in July 2011, and below the historical average for the first time since 2008.
- New orders index was at 65, compared with 60.8 a year ago. Ernest Goss, who compiles the new orders index, expects the high commodity prices caused by the drought to negatively affect the quarter's results of Iowa's manufacturers involved in food processing.
- The 12-month moving averages of expected profits for corn and soybeans increased, as the impact of the national drought on grain prices began to appear in July.
- The national yield spread was the largest negative contributor in July. The long-term interest rate fell to 1.53 percent in July, reaching another 30-year low, but the short-term rate rose slightly.
- Average weekly manufacturing hours stayed roughly the same and diesel fuel consumption decreased 0.2 percent.
The full report can be read here.