Remodeling and repair

Recently released data from the Department of Commerce confirms the strength of the industry. A strong fourth quarter brought remodeling and repair to a level of $173.3 billion in 2002. That's an increase of nearly 10% from the previous year, the highest growth rate since 1986.

Consumer confidence

Following a huge jump in April, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index rose almost another three points in May. Optimism for the next six months accounted for this increase, as the general opinion of current conditions remains guarded.

Second mortgage interest rates

Defying all predictions, second mortgage interest rates fell to another record low in May, the third decline in the past four months. At an average of 4.41%, it doesn't seem like they could get much lower, but who knows?

Leading economic indicators

Even a minuscule rise in this measuring stick is welcome, given that it's the first increase since last December. At best, this indicates a turning point toward positive news in the coming months.

Disposable personal income

Personal-income growth continues to wane because of a weak labor market. However, the recently enacted tax cut should provide a boost.