Majority of Economic Data found at www.haver.com
Friday, March 31st
The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that PERSONAL INCOME rose 0.4% during February (4.6% y/y), this after rising 0.5%
during January. DISPOSABLE PERSONAL INCOME (personal income less taxes) rose 0.3% (4.4% y/y), this after rising 0.4%
during February. The WAGE & SALARY COMPONENT rose 0.5% in February (5.5% y/y). PERSONAL CONSUMPTION
which represents approximately 70% of economic activity rose 0.1% in February, by 0.2% in January and by 4.8% y/y. PERSONAL
SAVINGS (Disposable Personal Income Less Outlays) rose at an annualized rate of 5.6% during February, by 5.4% during January
and as compared to 6.0% one year ago. The PCE CHAIN PRICE INDEX one of the Fed’s favorite measures of inflation rose 0.1%
in February (2.1% y/y), while the core PCE Chain Price Index rose 0.2% during February, by 0.3% in January and by 1.8% y/y.
The University of Michigan reported that the FINAL MARCH READING OF CONSUMER SENTIMENT slipped to 96.9 from
a preliminary 97.6 but rose slightly from a final February 96.3. The final March expectations component fell to 86.5 from a
preliminary March 86.7 while matching the final February level. Lastly, the final March current conditions component fell to a
level of 113.2 from a preliminary March 114.5 but rose from a final February 111.5.
Thursday, March 30th
AS PART OF ITS SECOND REVISION TO FOURTH QUARTER GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT, as reported by the
Commerce Department, a tally of the output of all goods and services in the United States, rose at a revised annualized rate of 2.1%,
up from an initially revised 1.9% and as compared to a year-over-year growth rate of 2.0%. FINAL SALES rose at a revised
annualized pace of 1.1%, slightly higher than the 1.0% that was part of the first revision, down from a Q3 pace of 3.0% and as
compared to a growth rate of 2.0% y/y. GOVERNMENT SPENDING rose at a revised annualized rate of 0.2%, slightly lower than
the 0.3% first revision, down from 0.8% during Q3 and compared to 0.2% y/y. Meanwhile, the INVENTORY EFFECT added an
unrevised 1.0% to Q4 GDP, above 0.5% during Q3 and versus 0.0% over the trailing twelve months. PERSONAL
CONSUMPTION rose at a revised annualized rate of 3.5% during Q4, up from 3.0% that was part of the first revision, up from 3.0%
during Q3 as well as from a growth rate of 3.1% y/y. BUSINESS FIXED INVESTMENT, a key contributor to recent economic
growth, rose at a downwardly revised 0.9% during Q4, down from a previously revised pace of 1.3%, down from 1.4% last quarter
and as compared to a growth rate of -0.1% y/y. The impact from FOREIGN TRADE subtracted 1.7% from Q4-GDP, unrevised from
the initial report as well as the subsequent report, but a steep decline from the 0.9% it added to Q3-GDP and below the 0.2% drop y/y.
RESIDENTIAL INVESTMENT rose at an unrevised annualized rate of 9.6% during Q4 as compared to the first revision, but down
from the 10.2% that was initially reported but a large increase compared to the 4.1% decline recorded during Q3, and a gain of 1.1%
y/y. Finally, during Q4 the PCE Chained GDP Price Index rose at a revised annualized rate of 2.1% during Q4, a slight upward
revision from the first revision of 2.0%, equal to the initially reported 2.1%, above from the Q3 rate of 1.4% as well as above the
increase of 1.6% y/y.
INITIAL CLAIMS FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS for the week ended March 18th fell 3,000 to 258,000 from a revised
261,000 one week prior. Initial claims for unemployment benefits have remained below 300,000 for one-hundred-eight consecutive
weeks, the longest streak since 1970. Meanwhile, the four-week rolling average rose 7,750 to 254,250 from 246,500 one week prior.
Continuing claims for the week ending March 18th rose 65,000 to 2,052,000 from 1,987,000 while the continuing claims four-week
average fell 1,250 to 2,030,750 from 2,032,000.
Tuesday, March 28th
The CONFERENCE BOARD’S CONSUMER CONFIDENCE INDEX rose to 125.6 during March (30.7% y/y) as compared to
116.1 in February, the highest level since December 2000. The present situation index surged to 143.1 in March from 134.4 in
February. and by 24.5% y/y while the expectations component edged up to 113.8 during March from 102.4 in February and by
36.1% y/y. Those surveyed saying that jobs are “hard to get” fell to 19.9% of respondents during March as compared to 19.9%
during February while those claiming that jobs are “plentiful” rose to 31.7% of respondents during March versus 26.9% in February.
Friday, March 24th
ORDERS FOR DURABLE GOODS (those expected to last at least three years) rose 1.7% during February, this after easing 2.3%
during January. Smoothing out the m/m volatility, over the past year Orders for Durable Goods have risen 5.0%. Transportation
Orders rose 4.3% (5.9% y/y) while Orders for NonDefense Capital Goods, Excluding Aircraft fell 0.1% (2.7% y/y) in February.
Orders for nondefense capital goods rose 4.1% during February (6.7% y/y).
Thursday, March 23rd
The Commerce Department reported that SALES OF NEW HOMES rose 34,000 to 592,000 during February from 558,000 during
January (12.8% y/y). Sales of New Homes have fallen by 53.71% from the peak in July 2005 of 1,279,000 units. According to
Haver Analytics, “the month’s supply of homes at the current sales rate was eased last month to 5.4 from its high of 5.6 in January.
The median number of months a new home was on the market nudged higher to 3.4 (NSA) from 3.2, remaining below the most recent
high of 4.1 months in April.” The median price of a new home fell $12,000 or 3.88% during February to $296,200 from $308,200
in January. Over the past year the median price of a new home has risen 12.8%.
Wednesday, March 22nd
SALES OF EXISTING HOMES fell 210,000 during the month of February to 5.480 million from 5.690 million one month prior.
Over the past year Sales of Existing Homes have risen 5.4%. During calendar year 2016 there were 5.452 million sales of existing
homes, the highest level since 2006. According to Haver Analytics, “the number of homes on the market declined 6.4% y/y to
1.750 million. The months’ sales supply of homes improved slightly to 3.8, but remained below the lowest level since January 2004.”
The median existing-home sales price rose by 0.48% (7.7% y/y) or $1,100 to $228,400 in February from $227,300 during January.
Friday, March 17th
The Conference Board reported that its INDEX OF LEADING ECONOMIC INDICATORS rose 0.6% during February (3.1%
y/y), this after rising 0.6% in January. Nine of the ten components that comprise the LEI increased including, in order of impact were
the ISM New Orders Index, the interest rate spread, average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance (inverted), stock
prices, average consumer expectations for business conditions, average weekly manufacturing hours, the Leading Credit Index
(inverted), manufacturers’ new orders for consumer goods and manufacturers’ new orders for nondefense capital goods excluding
aircraft. The negative contributor was building permits. According to Ataman Ozyildirim, Director of Business Cycles and Growth
Research at the Conference Board, “after six consecutive monthly gains, the U.S. LEI is at its highest level in over a decade. Widespread gains over a majority of the leading indicators points to an improving economic outlook for 2017, although GDP growth is
likely to remain moderate.”
INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, a measure of strength of the manufacturing, factory and utility sectors, rose 0.0% during February,
this after falling 0.1% during January, respectively (0.3% y/y). CAPACITY UTILIZATION edged down to 75.4% during
February from 75.5% in January and as compared to 75.6% y/y. Finally, MANUFACTURING CAPACITY rose to 75.6% during
February from 75.3% in January and vs.75.4% one year ago and as compared to a recession low 65.4%. On a side note, the nation’s
mines, factories and utilities operated at an average of 80.4% of capacity from 1972 to 2009.
Thursday, March 16th
HOUSING STARTS rose 2.96% or 37,000 to 1,288,000 during February, as compared to 1,251,000 in January. Over the past year
Housing Starts have risen 3.6%. Calendar year 2016 starts rose by 1,116,000, the highest since August 2007 and more than double
- Of note is the fact that there must be approximately 100,000 housing starts per year just to replace those lost to natural causes,
man-induced causes or by the growing U.S. population. During February, Single-family housing starts rose 6.47% or 53,000 to
872,000 from 819,000. Multi-family housing starts fell 16,000 or 3.70% to 416,000 in February from 432,000 during January.
BUILDING PERMITS, a preview of future housing starts fell 6.19% to 1,213,000 during February from 1,293,000 one month prior.
Our take – the housing market has most likely turned the corner and will be a modest tailwind to economic growth.
Wednesday, March 15th
The CONSUMER PRICE INDEX rose 0.1% during February (2.7% y/y), this follows a gain of 0.6% in January. A key
component of the CPI, energy prices fell 1.0% (15.2% y/y) during February, this after rising 4.0% during January. Food and
beverage prices rose 0.2% in February (-0.0% y/y). Excluding food and energy, the core CPI rose 0.2% in February, by 0.3%
during January and by 2.3% y/y.
RETAIL SALES rose 0.1% during February, this after rising 0.6% during January (5.7% y/y). Spending on MOTOR VEHICLE
& PARTS fell 0.2% (5.6% y/y) while RETAIL SALES EXCLUDING AUTOS rose 0.2% (5.7% y/y). NON-AUTOS LESS
GASOLINE, Retail Sales rose 0.2% during February (4.2% y/y). Two key components of this report, RETAIL SALES AT
GASOLINE STATIONS fell 0.6% during February (19.6%y/y) while FOOD SERVICE AND DRINKING PLACE SALES fell
0.1% during February (3.4% y/y).
The Commerce Department reported that BUSINESS INVENTORIES rose 0.3% during January (2.3% y/y), this after rising 0.4%
during December, while BUSINESS SALES rose 0.2% in January (6.4% y/y). This relationship between business inventories as
compared to sales keep the INVENTORY-TO-SALES RATIO at 1.35 months during January, unchanged versus December and as
compared to 1.41 months one year ago. The manufacturing inventory-to-sales ratio remained at 1.31 months in January, unchanged
from December and as compared to 1.37 months one year ago.
Tuesday, March 14th
The PRODUCER PRICE INDEX rose 0.3% during February, this after rising 0.6% during January. Over the past year the PPI
has risen 2.2%. Energy prices rose 0.6% in February (19.2% y/y), this after rising 4.7% in January. Finished food prices rose 0.3%
during February (-1.8% y/y). Excluding food and energy, the so-called core PPI rose 0.3% in February (1.5% y/y). Prices for
INTERMEDIATE GOODS rose 0.4% (5.0% y/y) during February.
Friday, March 10th
NON-FARM PAYROLLS (approximately 80% of the U.S. workforce) rose by 235,000 during February, above the consensus
estimate of 196,000. Payroll gains for the prior two months were revised to 238,000 and 155,000 from 227,000 and 157,000 for a net
revised gain of 9,000 jobs during January and December, respectively. The February numbers along with the revisions the prior
two months resulted in a three month average of 209,000. PRIVATE SECTOR companies created 227,000 jobs as the PUBLIC
SECTOR added 8,000. Payrolls for the month ending May, 2014 showed total nonfarm payrolls set an all-time high, eclipsing the
prior peak setback in January 2008. That 76 month stretch was the longest since the Great Depression. Payroll data was influenced
by the manufacturing (28,000), construction (58,000), and the private service producing sectors (132,000). Meanwhile, the
UNEMPLOYMENT RATE ticked down to 4.7% during February as compared to 4.8% during January. According to the
household survey, employment rose 458,000 during February (1.3% y/y) while the labor force rose by 586,000 (1.1% y/y). This
combination help push the LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATE up to 63.0% during February from 62.9% during January.
The average for this ratio was 67.1% from 1997 to 2000. The UNDEREMPLOYMENT RATE, which includes the unemployed as
well as those who were either marginally attached to the labor force or were involuntarily working part-time (Table A-15) fell to 9.2%
in February as compared to 9.4% during January and versus a seasonally adjusted 10.1% one year prior. AVERAGE HOURLY
EARNINGS (Table B) rose 0.23% or $0.06 to $26.09 from $26.03 during February and have risen by $0.71 or 2.80% from $25.38
one year ago. This helped push AVERAGE WEEKLY EARNINGS up 0.23% to $897.50 during February from $895.43 in
January. Average Weekly Earnings over the past year have risen by $21.89 or 2.50% to $897.50 from $875.61. AVERAGE
HOURS WORKED remained at 34.4 hours in February when compared to January and versus 34.5 hours one year ago. Also of
note was the fact that the manufacturing week (Table B-7) rose to 42.0 hours during February as compared to 41.9 hours in January
and versus 41.9 hours one year ago. The number of the long-term unemployed (twenty-seven weeks or longer) fell to (Table A)
1.801 million from 1.850 million or 23.82% as the number of unemployed fell to 7.562 million from 7.599 million. The AVERAGE
DURATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT (Table A-12) remained at 25.1 weeks during February as compared to January. The
MEDIAN DURATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT fell to 10.0 weeks during February as compared to 10.2 weeks one month prior.
Thursday, March 9th
U.S. Import Prices rose 0.2% during February, this after rising 0.6% in January. Over the past year U.S. Import Prices have
risen 4.6%. Petroleum prices fell 0.7% during February (73.3% y/y). Export prices rose 0.3% during February (3.1%y/y).
Agricultural export prices rose 1.4% during February (1.6% y/y), this after rising 0.1% in January. Non-Agricultural Export
Prices rose 0.3% in February and by 3.3% y/y.
Wednesday, March 8th
FOURTH QUARTER PRODUCTIVITY rose at an unrevised annualized rate of 1.3%, plunging from 3.3% during Q3 and as
compared to 1.0% increase over the past twelvemonths. Meanwhile, HOURLY COMPENSATION rose at an unrevised annualized
rate of 3.0% as compared to 4.1% during Q3 and 3.0% y/y. UNIT LABOR COSTS (defined as output per hour of work and can be
determined by dividing total labor costs by output) rose at a revised annualized pace of 2.4% during Q-4 as compared to the 1.7% that
was initially reported and versus 4.1% during Q3 and by 2.1% y/y.
The Commerce Department reported that WHOLESALE INVENTORIES fell 0.2% during January and by 2.4% y/y.
WHOLESALE SALES fell 0.1% during January but have risen by 11.8% y/y. This relationship between wholesale inventories as
compared to sales helped keep the INVENTORY-TO-SALES RATIO at 1.29 months during January as compared to December and
versus 1.37 months one year ago.
Tuesday, March 7th
The Federal Reserve reported that CONSUMER CREDIT grew by $8.8 billion during January, this after rising $14.7 billion in
December. Over the past year Consumer Credit has risen 6.3%. The calendar year 2016 increase of 6.4% follows gains of 6.9%
during 2015, 7.0% during 2014 as well as gains of 7.2% and 6.1% during 2013 and 2012, respectively. According to Haver
Analytics, “annualized, credit growth averaged 8% during the fifteen years ended 2007. Over an even longer time period that increase
does not loom particularly large. However, against an average of 5% growth in disposable income during those years, it precipitated a
rise in the ratio to disposable income to 24% from a longer term norm of 17%.” Non-revolving Credit (automobiles, consumer
durables and student loans), which accounts for nearly two-thirds of total consumer credit, rose by $12.6 billion during January and
by 6.4% y/y while revolving credit (credit cards) fell $3.8 billion during January but have risen 6.4% y/y.
The U.S. TRADE DEFICIT widened to $48.5 billion during January from $44.3 billion during December. The value of EXPORTS
rose 0.58% to $192.1 billion from $191.0 billion while the value of IMPORTS rose 2.25% to $240.6 billion during January from
$235.3 billion in December. According to Haver Analytics, “the increase in imports was paced by an 18.4% rise (48.1% y/y) in
petroleum imports. A 19% gain in energy-related imports reflected a 15.2% rise (57.6% y/y) in the value of crude petroleum imports.
The quantity of crude petroleum imports rose 14.2% y/y. Crude petroleum prices rose 37.1% y/y to an average of $43.94 per barrel.”
Our trade deficit with China widened to $31.3 billion during January from $28.9 billion one month prior.
Monday, March 6th
U.S. FACTORY ORDERS rose 1.2% during the month of January, this after rising 1.3% in December. Meanwhile,
SHIPMENTS rose 0.2% during January. The fact that shipments rose slower than orders resulted in a 0.2% rise in
INVENTORIES (backlog) and a 0.4% decrease in UNFILLED ORDERS.
Friday, March 3rd
The Institute for Supply Management’s composite index of non-manufacturing (service) sector activity rose to 57.6% in February
as compared to 56.5% during January. The level recorded during January is far above the 37.2 recorded during Q4-2008 in a sector
that employs 80% of the U.S. workforce. Of note were New Orders (61.2% v. 58.6%), Employment (55.2% v. 54.7%), Business
Activity (63.6% v. 60.3%), and Backlog of Orders (54.0% v. 50.0%). The Prices Paid Component fell to 57.7% from 59.0%.
Wednesday, March 1st
U.S. CONSTRUCTION SPENDING fell 1.0% during January, this after rising 0.1% during December. Over the past year
Construction Spending has risen 3.1%. Private Construction Spending rose 0.2% in January (7.3% y/y), this after rising 0.5%
during December. Private Residential Construction Spending rose 0.5% in January (5.9% y/y). Nonresidential Construction
Spending fell 0.0% (8.9% y/y) while Public Construction Spending slumped 5.0% in January (-9.0% y/y).
The Institute for Supply Management’s composite index of manufacturing sector activity rose to 57.7% during February from
56.0% in January. Generally speaking, “a reading above 50% indicates that the manufacturing economy is expanding; below50%
indicates that it is generally contracting.” Of note were the changes in New Orders (65.1% v. 60.4%), Production (62.9% v. 61.4%),
Supplier Deliveries (inverse, indicates faster delivery times) (54.8% v. 53.6%), Inventories (51.5% v. 48.5%) and Employment
(54.2% v. 56.1%). The Prices Paid Component eased to 68.0% during February as compared to 69.0% in January.
Wednesday, February 1st
According to the Department of Labor, the EMPLOYMENT COST INDEX, a “measure of quarterly changes in compensation costs,
which include wages, salaries, and employer costs for employee benefits for civilian workers (non-farm private and state and local
government)” rose by 0.5% during the fourth quarter, this following an 0.6% increase during Q3-2016. The ECI has risen by 2.2%
y/y. The wages & salaries component (70% of ECI) rose by 0.5% during Q4 vs. 0.5% during Q3-2016 and as compared to 2.4%
y/y. The cost of benefits rose by 0.4% over the past quarter, this after rising 0.7% during Q3-2016 and by 2.0% y/y.