Remodeling market index

Compared with the first quarter of 2002, remodelers' views of current market conditions and their expectations for the future receded in the early part of 2003. Both sections of the NAHB's index showed a significant jump from the fourth quarter of last year; however, RMI data aren't seasonally adjusted, so that comparison isn't useful.

Existing-home sales

Existing-home sales may be slowing, but the rate of activity is still high. Even with a 5.6% drop, the preliminary March sales rate of 5,530,000 units was the 12th best on record. The war in Iraq was probably a factor, and a rebound could very well have taken place in April.

Second mortgage interest rates

Homeowners continue to find favorable interest rates to finance remodeling projects. Second mortgage interest rates averaged 4.7% in April -- essentially unchanged from the previous month, according to Fannie Mae. There is little reason to expect any marked changes in interest rates in the near future.

Leading economic indicators

The war in Iraq contributed to a second straight month of declines in the Conference Board's Index of Leading Economic Indicators. The quick victory in the war could help the index bounce back, but many questions still remain about the short-term health of the economy.

Consumer confidence

Consumers reacted very positively to the result of the war with Iraq. The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index jumped nearly 20 points in April. This is the highest level since last November.