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Fall in stock market puts dent in S.C. Leading Index

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Staff Report
Published Oct. 1, 2015

CLICK TO ENLARGE: Key S.C. IndicatorsSource: S.C. Department of Commerce
Fueled by a steep drop in the stock market, the S.C. Leading Index of economic indicators lost 0.15 points in August but still remained in positive territory, the S.C. Department of Commerce reported this week.

The index ended August with a value of 101.77. Any value above 100 indicates economic growth for the next three to six months.

August’s numbers were impacted by a fall in the stock market, which is a significant driver of the index, said David Clayton, director of research at Commerce.

The Dow Jones composite average gave up 6.1% in August while the Bloomberg S.C. Stock Index slid 5.3%, Clayton said.

Other factors in lowering the index were a seasonal decrease in residential construction permitting, which was down 13.1% in August, and a 0.5% decrease in the length of the average manufacturing workweek. The average workweek fell to 41.8 hours in August compared with 42 hours in July.

A 29.8% reduction in initial claims for unemployment insurance countered the other indicators, Clayton added.

Although residential construction permits dropped in August, the state real estate market continues to improve, the report said.

“Year-to-date, all real estate indicators are in solid positive territory,” the report said. “The number of homes sold in South Carolina is up 15.8% to 6,470 homes sold in August. Likewise, the median home sales price has gained 5.9% over the course of the year to $174,900.”

Home sales picked up mostly in the metro markets of Greenville, Columbia and Charleston, the report said. Meanwhile, foreclosures were down 5.7% year-to-date.

“Homebuilders in South Carolina are busier than they’ve been since the recession. The number of residential building permits issued in South Carolina over the last 12 months exceeded 30,000 for the first time since 2009,” the report said.

Construction employment has gained 6,700 jobs over the last 12 months.

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