Weather and inflation hits US

A wave of data releases delivered bad news overall for the US economy yesterday. Homebuilder sentiment stagnated in February, a survey revealed. The index, which requires a score of 50 to reflect more builders viewing sales conditions as good than poor, stayed stuck on 16 for the fourth month in a row. Retail sales, meanwhile, increased less than expected in January – up 0.3 per cent – official data showed. Snowstorms were partly blamed for the slowdown. Global price pressures were reflected in a 1.5 per cent rise in import prices, nearly double the rate expected by economists. Yet there was good news for US manufacturing as the Empire State index rose to 15.43 in February from 11.92 in January.