Majority of Economic Data found at www.haver.com
Friday, May 5th
NON-FARM PAYROLLS (approximately 80% of the U.S. workforce) rose by 211,000 during April, above the consensus estimate
of 188,000. Payroll gains for the prior two months were revised to 79,000 and 232,000 from 98,000 and 219,000 for a net revised
loss of 6,000 jobs during March and February, respectively. The April numbers along with the revisions the prior two months resulted
in a three month average of 174,000. PRIVATE SECTOR companies created 194,000 jobs as the PUBLIC SECTOR added
17,000. 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
(6,000), construction (5,000), and the private service producing sectors (173,000). The retail industry added 6,300 during April after
losses totaling 56,100 over the prior two months. Meanwhile, the UNEMPLOYMENT RATE ticked down to 4.4% during April as
compared to 4.7% during February, its lowest since May 2007. According to the household survey, employment rose 156,000 during
April (1.4% y/y) while the labor force rose by 12,000 (0.8% y/y). This helped push the LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATE
down to 62.9% during April from 63.0% in March. 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 8.6% in April as compared to 8.9% during March and versus a
seasonally adjusted 9.3% one year prior. AVERAGE HOURLY EARNINGS (Table B) rose 0.27% or $0.07 to $26.19 from $26.12
during April and have risen by $0.65 or 2.55% from $25.54 one year ago. This helped push AVERAGE WEEKLY EARNINGS up
0.56% to $900.54 during April from $895.52 in March. Average Weekly Earnings over the past year have risen by $22.36 or 2.55%
to $900.94 from $878.58. AVERAGE HOURS WORKED edged up to 34.4 during April from 34.3 hours in March and versus 34.4
hours one year ago. Also of note was the fact that the manufacturing week (Table B-7) rose to 41.8 hours during April as compared to
41.7 hours in March and versus 41.8 hours one year ago. The number of the long-term unemployed (twenty-seven weeks or longer)
fell to (Table A) 1.626 million from 1.687 million or 22.57% as the number of unemployed fell to 7.204 million from 7.245 million.
The AVERAGE DURATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT (Table A-12) fell to 24.1 weeks during April as compared to 25.3 weeks
one month prior while the MEDIAN DURATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT fell to 10.2 weeks during April as compared to 10.3
weeks one month prior.
The Federal Reserve reported that CONSUMER CREDIT grew by $15.42 billion during March, this after rising $13.75 billion in
February. Over the past year Consumer Credit has risen 6.0%. 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 $14.5 billion during March and by 6.4% y/y
while revolving credit (credit cards) rose $2.0 billion during March and by 4.9% y/y.
Thursday, May 4th
FIRST QUARTER PRODUCTIVITY fell at an annualized rate of 0.6%, down from a gain of 1.8% during Q4 and as compared to
1.1% rise over the past twelvemonths. Meanwhile, HOURLY COMPENSATION rose at an annualized rate of 2.4% as compared to
3.1% during Q4 and 3.9% 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 an annualized pace of 3.0% during Q1 as compared to the 2.2% increase during Q4 and versus 4.3% y/y.
was initially reported and versus 4.1% during Q3 and by 2.1% y/y.
The U.S. TRADE DEFICIT narrowed to $43.7 billion during March from $43.8 billion during February. The value of EXPORTS
fell 0.88% to $191.0 billion from $192.7 billion while the value of IMPORTS fell 0.72% to $234.7 billion during March from $236.4
billion in February. According to Haver Analytics, “a 0.9% decline (9.9% y/y) in merchandise imports was paced by a 4.7% fall
(70.6% y/y) in the value of petroleum imports. The quantity of energy-related petroleum imports rose 7.6% y/y. Crude petroleum
prices rose 67.1% y/y to an average of $46.26 per barrel.” Our trade deficit with China widened to $24.6 billion during March from
$20.9 billion one year ago.
U.S. FACTORY ORDERS rose 0.2% during the month of March, this after rising 1.2% in February. Meanwhile, SHIPMENTS
fell 0.1% during March. The fact that shipments fell while orders rose resulted in a 0.0% fell in INVENTORIES (backlog) and
a 0.3% increase in UNFILLED ORDERS.
INITIAL CLAIMS FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS for the week ended April 29th fell 19,000 to 238,000 from an unrevised
257,000 one week prior. Initial claims for unemployment benefits have remained below 300,000 for one-hundred-thirteen consecutive
weeks, the longest streak since 1970. Meanwhile, the four-week rolling average rose 750 to 243,000 from 242,250 one week prior.
Continuing claims for the week ending April 22nd fell 23,000 to 1,964,000 from 1,988,000 while the continuing claims four-week
average fell 17,750 to 1,989,250 from 2,007,000.
Wednesday, May 3rd
The Institute for Supply Management’s composite index of non-manufacturing (service) sector activity rose to 57.5% in April
as compared to 55.2% during March. The level recorded during April 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 (63.2% v. 58.9%), Employment (51.4% v. 51.6%), Business
Activity (62.4% v. 58.9%), and Backlog of Orders (53.5% v. 53.0%). The Prices Paid Component rose to 57.6% from 53.5%.
Monday, May 1st
The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that PERSONAL INCOME rose 0.2% during March (4.5% y/y), this after rising 0.3%
during February. DISPOSABLE PERSONAL INCOME (personal income less taxes) rose 0.2% (4.3% y/y), this after rising 0.3%
during February. The WAGE & SALARY COMPONENT rose 0.1% in March (5.5% y/y). PERSONAL CONSUMPTION
which represents approximately 70% of economic activity rose 0.0% in March, by -0.0% in February and by 4.7% y/y. PERSONAL
SAVINGS (Disposable Personal Income Less Outlays) rose at an annualized rate of 5.9% during March, by 5.7% during February
and as compared to 5.8% one year ago. The PCE CHAIN PRICE INDEX one of the Fed’s favorite measures of inflation fell 0.2%
in March (1.8% y/y), while the core PCE Chain Price Index fell 0.1% during March, rose by 0.2% in February and by 1.6% y/y.
The Institute for Supply Management’s composite index of manufacturing sector activity slipped to 54.8% during April from
57.2% in March. 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 (57.5% v. 64.5%), Production (58.6% v. 57.6%),
Supplier Deliveries (inverse, indicates faster delivery times) (55.1% v. 55.9%), Inventories (51.0% v. 49.0%) and Employment
(52.0% v. 58.9%). The Prices Paid Component fell to 68.5% during April as compared to 70.5% in March.
Friday, April 28th
FIRST 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 an annualized rate of 0.7%, the weakest number in three years and as compared to 2.1%
during Q4 and a year-over-year growth rate of 1.9%. FINAL SALES rose at an annualized pace of 1.6%, above the 1.1% recorded
during Q4 and as compared to a growth rate of 2.1% y/y. GOVERNMENT SPENDING fell at an annualized rate of 1.7%, a sharp
drop the 0.2% in Q4 and as compared to –0.6% y/y. Meanwhile, the INVENTORY EFFECT subtracted 0.9% from Q1 GDP versus
adding 1.0% during Q4 and as compared to -0.2% y/y. PERSONAL CONSUMPTION rose at an annualized rate of 0.3% during the
first quarter, down from 3.5% during Q4 and compared to a growth rate of 2.8% y/y. BUSINESS FIXED INVESTMENT, a key
contributor to recent economic growth, rose at an annualized rate of 9.4% in Q1, up from 0.9% in Q4 and versus 3.1% y/y. The
impact from FOREIGN TRADE added 0.1% to Q1-GDP, up from -1.7% during Q4 and below the 0.2% drop y/y. RESIDENTIAL
INVESTMENT rose at an annualized rate of 13.7% during Q1, up from 9.6% during Q4-2016 and versus a gain of 2.4% y/y.
Finally, during Q1 the PCE Chained GDP Price Index rose at an annualized rate of 2.3%, slightly higher than the 2.1% during Q4
as well as from the 2.0% y/y.
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 0.8% during the first quarter, this following an 0.5% increase during Q4-2016. The ECI has risen by 2.4% y/y.
The wages & salaries component (70% of ECI) rose by 0.8% during Q1 vs. 0.5% during Q4-2016 and as compared to 2.5% y/y.
The cost of benefits rose by 0.7% over the past quarter, this after rising 0.5% during Q4-2016 and by 2.5% y/y.
Thursday, April 27th
ORDERS FOR DURABLE GOODS (those expected to last at least three years) rose 0.7% during March, this after jumping 2.7%
during February. Smoothing out the m/m volatility, over the past year Orders for Durable Goods have risen 4.5%. Transportation
Orders rose 2.4% (4.2% y/y) while Orders for NonDefense Capital Goods, Excluding Aircraft rose 0.2% (3.0% y/y) in March.
Orders for nondefense capital goods rose 1.2% during March (9.6% y/y).
Wednesday, April 26th
The Commerce Department reported that SALES OF NEW HOMES rose 34,000 to 621,000 during March from 587,000 during
February (15.6% y/y). Sales of New Homes have fallen by 51.45% 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 fell last month to 5.2, the lowest level since November. The
median number of months a new home was on the market ticked higher to 3.7 (NSA), the highest level in nine months.” The median
price of a new home rose $22,000 or 7.51% during March to $315,100 from $293,100 in February. Over the past year the median
price of a new home has risen 1.2%.
The CONFERENCE BOARD’S CONSUMER CONFIDENCE INDEX fell to 120.5 during April (27.0% y/y) as compared to
124.9 in March, the highest level since December 2000. The present situation index slipped to 140.6 in April from 143.9 in March,
but has risen by 20.1% y/y while the expectations component edged down to 106.7 during April from 112.3 in March, but has risen
33.9% y/y. Those surveyed saying that jobs are “hard to get” was unchanged at 19.1% of respondents during April as compared to
March while those claiming that jobs are “plentiful” fell to 30.8% of respondents during April versus 31.8% in March.
Friday, April 21st
SALES OF EXISTING HOMES rose 240,000 during the month of March to 5.710 million from 5.470 million one month prior.
Over the past year Sales of Existing Homes have risen 5.9%. 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 6.6% y/y to
1.830 million. The months’ sales supply of homes held steady m/m at 3.8, but remained below the lowest level since January 2004.”
The median existing-home sales price rose by 3.59% (6.8% y/y) or $8,200 to $236,400 in March from $228,200 during February.
Thursday, April 20th
The Conference Board reported that its INDEX OF LEADING ECONOMIC INDICATORS rose 0.4% during March (3.5% y/y),
this after rising 0.5% in February. Eight of the ten components that comprise the LEI increased including, in order of impact were
the interest rate spread, the ISM New Orders Index, average consumer expectations for business conditions, building permits, stock
prices, the Leading Credit Index (inverted), manufacturers’ new orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft and
manufacturers’ new orders for consumer goods and materials. The negative contributors were average weekly manufacturing hours
and average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance (inverted). According to Ataman Ozyildirim, Director of Business
Cycles and Growth Research at the Conference Board, “the March increase and upward trend in the U.S. LEI point to continued economic growth in 2017, with perhaps an acceleration later in the year if consumer spending and investment pick up.”
Tuesday, April 18th
INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, a measure of strength of the manufacturing, factory and utility sectors, rose 0.5% during March,
this after rising 0.1% during February, respectively (1.6% y/y). CAPACITY UTILIZATION edged up to 76.1% during March from
75.7% in February and as compared to 75.4% y/y. Finally, MANUFACTURING CAPACITY fell to 75.3% during March from
75.6% in February and vs.75.2% 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.
HOUSING STARTS fell 6.75% or 88,000 to 1,215,000 during March, as compared to 1,303,000 in February. Over the past year
Housing Starts have risen 9.2%. 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 fell 6.17% or 54,000 to
821,000 from 875,000. Multi-family housing starts fell 34,000 or 7.94% to 394,000 in March from 428,000 during February.
BUILDING PERMITS, a preview of future housing starts rose 3.62% to 1,260,000 during March from 1,216,000 one month prior.
Friday, April 14th
The CONSUMER PRICE INDEX fell 0.3% during March (2.4% y/y), this follows a gain of 0.1% in February. A key component of
the CPI, energy prices fell 3.2% (10.9% y/y) during March, this after falling 1.0% during February. Food and beverage prices rose
0.3% in March (0.5% y/y). Ex- food and energy, the core CPI fell 0.1% in March, rose by 0.2% during February and by 2.0% y/y.
RETAIL SALES fell 0.2% during March, this after falling a revised 0.3% during February (5.2% y/y). February’s numbers were
revised down from an initial gain of 0.1%. Spending on MOTOR VEHICLE & PARTS fell 1.2% (5.6% y/y) while RETAIL
SALES EXCLUDING AUTOS rose 0.0% (5.0% y/y). NON-AUTOS LESS GASOLINE, Retail Sales rose 0.1% during March
(4.1% y/y). Two key components of this report, RETAIL SALES AT GASOLINE STATIONS fell 1.0% during March (14.3%y/y)
while FOOD SERVICE AND DRINKING PLACE SALES fell 0.6% during March (2.8% y/y).
The Commerce Department reported that BUSINESS INVENTORIES rose 0.3% during February (2.8% y/y), this after rising 0.3%
during January, while BUSINESS SALES rose 0.2% in February (7.1% y/y). This relationship between business inventories as
compared to sales keep the INVENTORY-TO-SALES RATIO at 1.35 months during February, unchanged versus January and as
compared to 1.41 months one year ago. The manufacturing inventory-to-sales ratio remained at 1.31 months in February, unchanged
from January and as compared to 1.37 months one year ago.
Thursday, April 13th
The PRODUCER PRICE INDEX fell 0.1% during March, this after rising 0.3% during February. Over the past year the PPI has
risen 2.3%. Energy prices fell 2.9% in March (15.2% y/y), this after rising 0.6% in February. Finished food prices rose 0.9% during
March (0.3% y/y). Excluding food and energy, the so-called core PPI rose 0.0% in March (1.6% y/y). Prices for INTERMEDIATE
GOODS rose 0.1% (5.3% y/y) during March.
The University of Michigan reported that the PRELIMINARY APRIL READING OF CONSUMER SENTIMENT rebounded to a level of 98.0 from a final March 96.9 and from a preliminary March 97.6. The preliminary April expectations component edged up to 86.9 from a final March 86.5 and from a preliminary March 86.7. Lastly, the preliminary April current conditions component also rose, to a level of 115.2 from a final March 113.2 and from a preliminary March reading of 114.5.
Wednesday, April 12th
U.S. Import Prices fell 0.2% during March, this after rising 0.2% in February. Over the past year U.S. Import Prices have risen
4.2%. Petroleum prices fell 3.6% during March (52.1% y/y). Export prices rose 0.2% during March (3.5%y/y). Agricultural
export prices rose 0.9% during March (5.3% y/y), this after rising 1.5% in February. Non-Agricultural Export Prices rose 0.2%
in March and by 3.3% y/y.
The Commerce Department reported that WHOLESALE INVENTORIES rose 0.4% during February and by 3.3% y/y.
WHOLESALE SALES rose 0.6% during February and by 5.3% y/y. This relationship between wholesale inventories as compared
to sales helped keep the INVENTORY-TO-SALES RATIO at 1.28 months during February as compared to January and versus
1.36 months one year ago.
Monday, April 3rd
U.S. CONSTRUCTION SPENDING rose 0.8% during February, this after falling 0.4% during January. Over the past year
Construction Spending has risen 3.0%. Private Construction Spending rose 0.8% in February (6.9% y/y), this after rising 0.0%
during January. Private Residential Construction Spending rose 1.8% in February (6.4% y/y). Nonresidential Construction
Spending fell 0.3% (7.5% y/y) while Public Construction Spending edged up 0.6% in February (-8.0% y/y).
Glossary of Frequently Used Economic Terms
Strength of Dollar
A Weak Dollar increases exports while a Strong Dollar decreases exports. The reasoning is that a Weak dollar makes goods
and services cheaper abroad while a strong dollar makes exports more expensive abroad. A strong dollar also helps keep
inflation at bay by making imports cheaper, thereby helping keep wage and other inflationary pressures below the boiling
point. It also provides foreign Treasury buyers two ways to profit – through bond price and dollar appreciation.
A weak dollar can be inflationary since it makes imports more expensive. This, in turn, gives domestic companies
room to increase prices. Conversely, a strengthening dollar makes imports more competitive on a price basis.
“Let’s imagine the dollar quickly dropped by a further 25% against each major world currency, roughly parallel to housing’s unprecedented 30% decline. That would mean it would take $2 to buy a single euro. On the good side, U.S. manufacturers would find it easier to compete globally, and foreign tourism would boom in the U.S. On the bad side, inflation in the U.S. would zoom because of the rising cost of imported products. Americans would have even more trouble getting a loan as foreign buyers pull out of the debt market. Abroad, the cheap dollar would make it harder for other nations to export to the U.S., hurting their growth. China could face social unrest. Trade wars could break out.” (Business Week, What Happens If The Dollar Crashes; October 26, 2009)
An expanding trade deficit (imports exceeding exports) hurt the dollar because more dollars are held by foreigners. Some
fear that foreigners will tire of holding declining dollars and sell them for other currencies putting added pressure on the
greenback. In addition, foreign investors with U.S. assets are seeing those holdings decline as the dollar falls. As these investors sell these holdings and move to investments in other countries, it adds to selling pressure of the dollar.
Employment Cost Index
Compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is considered the most accurate measure of wages, salaries and benefits,
measuring compensation per hour, including wages, salaries and the cost of benefits – from health insurance to Social Security
contributions. Wages and salaries account for approximately seventy percent of the employment cost index with benefits
(health insurance and pension benefits) accounting for the rest.
The put-to-call ratio measures the sentiment of options traders. When the number of puts compared to calls is high, that
means that many traders think the market will go down. When call volume outnumbers puts, many think the market is going
to rise. Many use this as a contrarian indicator meaning that if options traders are too bullish, the market may actually fall.
Put option buyers bet that stocks will fall while call buyers bet that stocks will rise. Conversely put option sellers bet that
stocks will rise while call sellers bet that stocks will fall. Options buyers and sellers are subject to expiration dates. Buyers
of call options bet that a stock will be worth more than the price set by the option (the strike price), plus the price they pay for
the option itself. Buyers of put options bet that the stock’s price will drop below the price set by the option. When the
number of puts compared to calls is high, that means that many traders think the market will go down. When call volume
outnumbers puts, many think the market is going to rise. Many use this as a contrarian indicator meaning that
if options traders are too bullish, the market may actually fall.
Volatility Indices (^vix and ^vxn)
According to the Chicago Board of Options Exchange, the Volatility Index, “known by its ticker symbol “vix,” was
introduced by CBOE in 1993, and measures the volatility of the U.S. equity market. It provides investors with up-to-the-minute market estimates of expected volatility by using real-time OEX index option bid/ask quotes.”
The CBOE NASDAQ Volatility Index, known by its ticker symbol “vxn,” is the “benchmark of “tech stock” volatility based
on the implied volatility of the NASDAQ 100 Index options. Calculated using the same methodology as the CBOE Market
Volatility Index, the VXN is constructed so that, at any given time, it represents the implied volatility of a hypothetical at-the-money NDX option with thirty calendar days to expiration.”
Arms Index (^sti.n)
A contrarian index that indicates the bullishness or bearishness of investors. A reading below one indicates more action in
rising stocks and a figure above one indicates more action in declining stocks. As a contrarian indicator, a reading above one
is bullish for investors while a reading below one indicates bearishness.
Advancing Stocks / Declining Stocks + Advancing Volume / Declining Volume = The result is the Arms Index