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April 18, 2002

■ In March, the index of leading economic indicators rose 0.1 percent,
the fifth increase in the past six months.
■ Following a 0.2 percent gain in February, the consumer price index
(CPI) rose 0.3 percent in March. The CPI rose 1.4 percent at an
annual rate during the first quarter and was up 1.2 percent from
four quarters earlier.
■ Industrial production rose 0.7 percent in March, the largest gain
since May 2000. Production of computer and office equipment rose
1.2 percent in March and 4.6 percent during the first quarter.
■ In current dollars, the U.S. goods and services trade deficit
measured $31.5 billion in February. In January, the trade deficit
totaled $28.2 billion. Exports rose 1.2 percent in February, while
imports increased 4 percent.
■ In March, there were 1,646,000 new housing starts at an annual
rate. For the first quarter, however, housing starts averaged
1,715,000 units, up 8.6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2001
and the highest total since the fourth quarter of 1998.
■ The book value of total business inventories declined 0.1 percent
in February, the thirteenth consecutive drop. In current-dollar terms,
business inventories fell $9 billion at an annual rate in February,
slightly less than the $12.9 billion drop seen in January. In the fourth
quarter of 2001, by contrast, business inventories fell $151.2 billion
at an annual rate.
All data are seasonally adjusted unless otherwise indicated.
U.S. Financial Data is published weekly by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of
St. Louis. For more information on data, please call (314) 444-8590. To be added to the mailing
list, please call (314) 444-8809.
Information in this publication is also included in the Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) data base
on the internet at

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, One Federal Reserve Bank Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63102