The Commerce Department reported that the combined construction of new single-family homes and apartments in November rose 8.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 574,000 units. Applications for new-building permits, seen as an indicator of future activity, rose 6 percent, the highest level since November 2008.

The producer price index, which tracks wholesale prices, rose 1.8 percent in November, after a 0.3 percent increase in October. Economists had expected a gain of 0.8 percent.

Industrial production at the nation’s factories, mines and utilities rose 0.8 percent in November, after a revised 0.1 percent increase in October. The overall factory-operating rate rose to 71.3 percent of capacity in November from 70.6 percent in October.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo housing market index fell one point in December to 16. An index reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market.

The Labor Department reported consumer prices rose 0.4 percent in November. In a positive sign, the core index for inflation, which excludes the volatile categories of food and energy costs, remained unchanged after 10 consecutive monthly increases.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose by 7,000 to 480,000 in the week ending Dec. 12. Continuing claims for the week ending Dec. 5 rose by 5,000 to 5.186 million.

The index of leading economic indicators — designed to forecast economic activity in the next three to six months — rose a better-than-expected 0.9 percent in November after a 0.3 percent gain in October. It was the eighth straight monthly increase.

Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on existing home sales on Tuesday, new home sales on Wednesday and durable goods orders on Thursday.

— Craig Greene is a senior loan officer at Prospect Mortgage, 3916 State St., Suite 100, Santa Barbara 93105. He can be reached at or 805.898.4211.