This Week: New home sales, US GDP, consumer spending

The Commerce Department issues its April snapshot of new U.S. home sales Tuesday and its latest estimate of first-quarter GDP decline on Thursday

A look at some of the key business events and economic indicators upcoming this week:

HOUSING MARKET BELLWETHER

The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has spared few areas of the economy, and the market for newly built homes is no exception.

Sales of new U.S. homes plunged 15.4% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 627,000 homes as a spike in job losses gave many would-be buyers reason to hold off. The Commerce Department is expected to report Tuesday that sales of new homes slowed to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 493,000 homes.

New home sales, seasonally adjusted annual rate, by month:

Nov. 700,000

Dec. 723,000

Jan. 777,000

Feb. 741,000

March 627,000

April (est.) 493,000

Source: FactSet

A SHRINKING ECONOMY

The government’s latest estimate of how the U.S. economy fared in the first three months of the year is due out Thursday.

With large swaths of the economy having shut down in March due to the coronavirus, economists expect that the nation’s gross domestic product shrank at a 4.8% seasonally adjusted annual rate in the first quarter. That would mark the first quarterly drop in U.S. GDP in six years.

GDP, seasonally adjusted annual rate, by quarter:

Q4 2018: 1.1

Q1 2019: 3.1

Q2 2019: 2.0

Q3 2019: 2.1

Q4 2019: 2.1

Q1 2020 (est.): -4.8

Source: FactSet

ANOTHER BIG SPENDING PULLBACK?

The coronavirus outbreak has limited Americans' shopping options, translating into a big drop in spending.

U.S. consumer spending plunged 7.6% in March, the sharpest monthly drop on records that go back to 1959. Economists project that the Commerce Department will report Friday that consumer spending fell by an unprecedented 12.6% last month. Americans account for 70% of economic activity, so the less they spend, the more it hurts the economy.

Consumer spending, monthly percent change, seasonally adjusted:

Nov. 0.3

Dec. 0.4

Jan. 0.5

Feb. 0.2

March -7.6

April (est.) -12.6

Source: FactSet