Majority of Economic Data found at www.haver.com
Friday, January 19th
The University of Michigan reported that the PRELIMINARY JANUARY READING OF CONSUMER SENTIMENT fell to
94.4 from a final December 95.9 as well as from a preliminary December 96.8. The preliminary January expectations component
rose to 84.8 from a final December 84.3 as well as from a preliminary December 84.6. Lastly, the preliminary January current
conditions component fell to 109.2 from a final December 113.8 and from a preliminary December 115.9.
Thursday, January 18th
HOUSING STARTS fell 8.23% or 107,000 to 1,192,000 during December, as compared to 1,299,000 in November. Over the past
year Housing Starts have fallen 6.0%. Calendar year 2016 starts rose by 1,116,000, the highest since August 2007 and more than
double 2009. 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 October, Single-family housing starts fell 11.81% or 112,000
to 836,000 from 948,000. Multi-family housing starts rose 5,000 or 1.42% to 356,000 in December from 351,000 during November.
BUILDING PERMITS, a preview of future housing starts fell 0.08% to 1,302,000 during December from 1,303,000 one month
INITIAL CLAIMS FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS for the week ended January 13th fell 41,000 to 220,000 from an
unrevised 261,000 one week prior. Initial claims for unemployment benefits have remained below 300,000 for 147 consecutive
weeks, the longest streak since 1970. Meanwhile, the four-week rolling average fell 6,250 to 244,500 from 250,750 one week prior.
Continuing claims for the week ending January 6th rose 76,000 to 1,952,000 from 1,876,000 the prior week while the continuing
claims four-week average rose 4,000 to 1,921,000 from 1,917,000.
Wednesday, January 17th
INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, a measure of strength of the manufacturing, factory and utility sectors, rose 0.9% during December,
this after dropping 0.1% during November, respectively (3.6% y/y). CAPACITY UTILIZATION rose to 77.9% during December
from 77.2% in November and as compared to 76.0% y/y. Finally, MANUFACTURING CAPACITY remained at 76.4% in
Decamber as compared to November, versus 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.
Friday, January 12th
RETAIL SALES rose 0.4% during December, this after rising 0.9% during November (5.4% y/y). Spending on MOTOR
VEHICLE & PARTS rose 0.2% (2.3% y/y) while RETAIL SALES EXCLUDING AUTOS rose 0.4% (6.3% y/y). NON-AUTOS
LESS GASOLINE, Retail Sales rose 0.4% during December (5.8% y/y). Two key components of this report, RETAIL SALES AT
GASOLINE STATIONS rose 0.0% during December (9.1%y/y) while FOOD SERVICE AND DRINKING PLACE SALES
rose 0.7% during December (4.2% y/y).
The Commerce Department reported that BUSINESS INVENTORIES rose 0.4% during November (3.2% y/y), this after rising 0.0%
during October, while BUSINESS SALES rose 1.2% in November (7.9% y/y). This relationship between business inventories as
compared to sales helped push the INVENTORY-TO-SALES RATIO down to 1.33 months during November versus 1.34 months in
October, and as compared to 1.40 months one year ago. The manufacturing inventory-to-sales ratio shrunk to 1.35 months during
November as compared to 1.36 months in October and versus 1.40 months one year ago.
The CONSUMER PRICE INDEX rose 0.1% during December (2.1% y/y), this follows a gain of 0.4% in November. A key
component of the CPI, energy prices fell 1.2% (6.9% y/y) during December, this after jumping 3.9% during November. Food
and beverage prices rose 0.2% in December (1.6% y/y). Ex-food and energy, the core CPI rose 0.3% in December (1.8% y/y)
and by 0.1% during November.
Thursday, January 11th
The PRODUCER PRICE INDEX fell 0.1% during December, this after rising 0.4% during November. Over the past year the PPI
has risen 2.6%. Energy prices rose 0.0% in December (10.1% y/y), this after rising 4.6% in November. Finished food prices fell
0.7% during December (2.1% y/y). Excluding food and energy, the so-called core PPI fell 0.1% in December (2.3% y/y). Prices for
INTERMEDIATE GOODS rose 0.5% (5.1% y/y) during December, this following a gain of 0.5% in November.
Wednesday, January 10th
U.S. Import Prices rose 0.1% during December, this after rising 0.8% in November. Over the past year U.S. Import Prices have risen
3.0%. Petroleum prices rose 2.0% during December (20.6% y/y) while export prices fell 0.1% during December (2.6%y/y).
Agricultural export prices fell 0.4% in December (1.8% y/y), this after falling 1.8% in November. Non-Agricultural Export
Prices rose 0.0% (2.7% y/y).
The Commerce Department reported that WHOLESALE INVENTORIES rose 0.8% (3.9% y/y) during November, this after falling
0.4% during October. WHOLESALE SALES rose 1.5% during November, by 0.8% during October and by 9.7% y/y. This
relationship between wholesale inventories as compared to sales helped push the INVENTORY-TO-SALES RATIO down to 1.24
months during November as compared to 1.25 months during October and versus 1.31 months one year ago.
Monday, January 8th
The Federal Reserve reported that CONSUMER CREDIT grew by $27.96 billion during November, this after rising $20.53 billion
in October. Over the past year Consumer Credit has risen 5.3%. 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 $16.75 billion during November
and by 5.2% y/y while revolving credit (credit cards) rose $11.19 billion during November and by 5.7% y/y.
Friday, January 5th
NON-FARM PAYROLLS (approximately 80% of the U.S. workforce) rose by 148,000 during December, which was below the
consensus estimate of 189,000. Payroll gains for the prior two months were revised to 251,000 and 211,000 from 228,000 and
244,000 for a net loss of 10,000 jobs during December and November, respectively. The December numbers along with the revisions
the prior two months resulted in a three month average of 203,333. PRIVATE SECTOR companies gained 146,000 jobs as the
PUBLIC SECTOR added 2,000. Payrolls for the month ending May, 2014 showed total nonfarm payrolls set an all-time high,
eclipsing the prior peak set back in January 2008. That 76 month stretch was the longest since the Great Depression. Payroll data was
influenced by the manufacturing (25,000), construction (30,000), and the private service producing sectors (91,000). Meanwhile, the
UNEMPLOYMENT RATE remained at 4.1% during December, its lowest levels since February 2001. According to Haver.com,
“from the household employment survey, the steady 4.1% unemployment rate reflected steady 1.2% y/y growth in employment and a
lessened 0.5% y/y rise in the labor force.” This helped keep the LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATE steady at 62.7%
during December. 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) rose to 8.1% in December from 8.0% in November, and versus a seasonally-adjusted 9.1% one year prior. AVERAGE
HOURLY EARNINGS (Table B) rose 0.34% or $0.09 to $26.63 from $26.54 during December and by $0.65 or 2.50% from $25.99
one year ago. This helped push AVERAGE WEEKLY EARNINGS up 0.34% to $918.74 during December from $915.63 in
November. Average Weekly Earnings over the past year have risen by $25.03 or 2.80% to $918.74 from $893.71. AVERAGE
HOURS WORKED remained at 34.5 in December as compared to November and versus to 34.4 hours one year ago. Also of note
was the fact that the manufacturing week (Table B-7) slipped to 41.0 hours during December as compared to 42.0 in November and
versus 41.9 hours one year ago. The AVERAGE DURATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT (Table A-12) plunged to 23.6 weeks
during December from 25.2 weeks during November while the MEDIAN DURATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT fell to 9.1 months
in December as compared to 9.5 weeks one month prior. The number of LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYED (27 weeks or longer) fell
78,000 or 4.90% to 1.513 million in December from 1.593 million in November.
The U.S. TRADE DEFICIT widened to $50.5 billion during November from $48.9 billion during October. The value of EXPORTS
rose 2.25% to $200.2 billion from $195.8 billion while the value of IMPORTS rose 2.45% to $250.7 billion during November from
$244.7 billion in October. According to Haver Analytics, “the value of petroleum imports surged 10.1% m/m (20.9% y/y) in
November on top of an 8.5% monthly rise in October. As in October, the November increase was due mostly to a higher price for
petroleum. Removing the impact of price changes, the real value of petroleum imports edged up 0.8% m/m (-3.0% y/y) in November.
The per barrel cost of crude petroleum jumped again in November, rising to $50.10 from $47.26 (6.0% m/m). That was the highest
price since July 2015 and up from a February 2016 low of $26.49.” Our trade deficit with China widened to $35.4 billion during
November from $35.2 billion during October and from $30.5 billion one year ago.
The Institute for Supply Management’s composite index of non-manufacturing (service) sector activity fell to 55.9% in December
as compared to 57.4% during November. The level recorded during December 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 (54.3% v. 58.7%), Employment (56.3% v. 55.3%),
Business Activity (57.3% v. 61.4%), and Backlog of Orders (50.0% v. 51.5%). The Prices Paid Component rose to 60.8% during November from 60.7% one month prior.
U.S. FACTORY ORDERS rose 1.3% during the month of November, this after rising 0.4% in October. Meanwhile, SHIPMENTS
rose 1.2% during November. The fact that orders rose faster than shipments resulted in a 0.4% rise in INVENTORIES (backlog)
and a 0.1% increase in UNFILLED ORDERS.
Wednesday, January 3rd
U.S. CONSTRUCTION SPENDING rose 0.8% during November, this after rising 0.9% during October. Over the past year
Construction Spending has risen 2.6%. Private Construction Spending rose 1.0% in November (2.7% y/y), this after rising 0.1%
during October. Private Residential Construction Spending rose 1.0% in November (8.6% y/y). Nonresidential Construction
Spending jumped 0.9% (-3.6% y/y) while Public Construction Spending edged up 0.2% in November (2.2% y/y).
The Institute for Supply Management’s composite index of manufacturing sector activity rose to 59.7% during December from
58.2% in November. 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 (69.4% v. 64.0%), Production (65.8% v. 63.9%),
Supplier Deliveries (inverse, indicates faster delivery times) (57.9% v. 56.5%), Inventories (48.5% v. 47.0%) and Employment
(57.0% v. 59.7%). The Prices Paid Component jumped up to 69.0% during December as compared to 65.5% during November.
Wednesday, December 27th
The CONFERENCE BOARD’S CONSUMER CONFIDENCE INDEX fell to 122.1 during December (7.9% y/y) as compared
to 128.6 in November. The present situation index rose to 156.6 in December from 154.9 in October and by 26.8% y/y while the
expectations component plunged to 99.1 during December from 111.0 in November and by 6.9% y/y. Those surveyed saying that
jobs are “hard to get” improved to 15.2% of respondents during December from 16.8% during November while those claiming that
jobs are “plentiful” fell to 35.7% of respondents during December versus 37.5% in November.
Friday, December 22nd
The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that PERSONAL INCOME rose 0.3% during November (3.8% y/y), this after rising
0.4% during October. DISPOSABLE PERSONAL INCOME (personal income less taxes) rose 0.4% (3.7% y/y), this after rising
0.4% in September. The WAGE & SALARY COMPONENT rose 0.4% in November (4.5% y/y). PERSONAL
CONSUMPTION which represents approximately 70% of economic activity rose 0.6% in November, by 0.2% in October and by
4.5% y/y. PERSONAL SAVINGS (Disposable Personal Income Less Outlays) rose at an annualized rate of 2.9% during November,
by 3.2% during October and as compared to 3.7% one year ago. The PCE CHAIN PRICE INDEX one of the Fed’s favorite
measures of inflation rose 0.2% in November (1.8% y/y), while the core PCE Chain Price Index rose 0.1% during November and by 1.5% y/y.
The Commerce Department reported that SALES OF NEW HOMES surged 109,000 to 733,000 during November from 624,000
during October (26.6% y/y) and in doing so marked the highest level since July 2007. Sales of New Homes have fallen by 42.69%
from the peak in July 2005 of 1,279,000 units. According to Haver Analytics, “there was a lessened 4.6 month’s supply of homes for
sale at the current sales rate. It was the lowest level since April 2016. The median number of months a new home was on the market
was roughly steady at a low 3.3 months.” The median price of a new home slipped $900 or 0.28% during November to $318,700
from $319,600 in October. Over the past year the median price of a new home has risen 1.20%.
ORDERS FOR DURABLE GOODS (those expected to last at least three years) rose 1.3% during November, this after falling 0.4%
during October. Smoothing out the m/m volatility, over the past year Orders for Durable Goods have risen 8.2%. Transportation
Orders rose 4.2% (10.7% y/y) while Orders for NonDefense Capital Goods, Excluding Aircraft fell 0.1% (8.1% y/y) in November. Orders for nondefense capital goods rose 2.6% during November (22.6% y/y).
Thursday, December 21st
THIRD 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 revised annualized rate of 3.2%, a slight decline from a first revision of 3.3%, but up from an
initially reported 3.0%, this as compared to 3.1% during the second quarter and as compared to 2.3% y/y. FINAL SALES rose at a
revised annualized pace of 2.4%, a slight downward revision from the first revision of 2.50%, up from an initially recorded 2.26%, as
compared to 2.95% during Q2 and versus 2.2% y/y. GOVERNMENT SPENDING rose at a revised annualized rate of 0.7% which bested the initial revision of 0.4%, this as compared to a drop of 0.1% that was initially reported, an improvement from a drop of 0.2%
during Q2 and as compared to a decline of 0.1% y/y. Meanwhile, the INVENTORY EFFECT added a revised 0.8% to Q3 GDP,
which was unchanged as compared to the first revision but higher than the initially recorded 0.7%, up from 0.12% during Q2 and as
compared to 0.1% y /y. PERSONAL CONSUMPTION rose at a revised annualized rate of 2.2%, a slight down from a first revision
of 2.3%, as well as from an initially reported 2.4%, versus 3.3% during Q2 and as compared to 2.6% over the last twelve months.
BUSINESS FIXED INVESTMENT, a key contributor to recent economic growth, rose at a revised annualized pace of 4.7% during Q3, unrevised from the first revision, but a sharp increase from the first estimate of 3.9%, down from 6.7% during Q2 and versus 4.6%
y/y. The impact from FOREIGN TRADE added a revised annualized 0.5% unrevised from the first revision and as compared to an
initially reported 0.4%, this as compared to the 0.2% recorded during the Q2 and as compared to a loss of 0.1% y/y. RESIDENTIAL
INVESTMENT fell at a revised annualized rate of 4.7% during Q3, a slight improvement from the drop of 5.1% that was part of the
first revision, this compared to an initially reported 6.0%, an improvement over the 7.3% registered during the second quarter and
versus an increase of 1.2% over the past twelve months. Finally, during Q3 the PCE Chained GDP Price Index rose at a revised
annualized rate of 2.1%, unchanged from the first revision, a slight decrease from 2.2% that was initially reported, more than twice the
1.0% increase during the second quarter and as compared to 1.8% y/y.
The Conference Board reported that its INDEX OF LEADING ECONOMIC INDICATORS rose 0.4% during November (5.5%
y/y), this after rising 1.2% in October. Six of the ten components that comprise the LEI increased including, in order of impact were
the ISM New Orders Index , average consumer expectations for business conditions, the interest rate spread, the Leading Credit Index
(inverted), stock prices, and manufacturers’ new orders for consumer goods and materials. The negative contributors, in order of
impact, were average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance (inverted), building permits and manufacturing new orders
for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft. Average weekly manufacturing hours were unchanged during November. According
to Ataman Ozyildirim, Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research at the Conference Board, “the US LEI rose again in
November, suggesting that solid economic growth will continue into the first half of 2018.”
Wednesday, December 20th
SALES OF EXISTING HOMES rose 310,000 during the month of November to 5.810 million from 5.500 million one month prior.
Over the past year Sales of Existing Homes have risen 3.8%. 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 7.2% (-9.7% y/y)
to 1.670 million, the lowest level since January. There was a record low 3.4 months’ supply of homes available for sale.” The
median existing-home sales price rose 0.81% (5.8% y/y) or $2,000 to $248,000 in November from $246,000 during October.
Tuesday, December 19th
HOUSING STARTS rose 3.26% or 41,000 to 1,297,000 during November, as compared to 1,256,000 in October. Over the past
year Housing Starts have risen 12.1%. Calendar year 2016 starts rose by 1,116,000, the highest since August 2007 and more than
double 2009. 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 October, Single-family housing starts rose 5.32% or 47,000
to 930,000 from 883,000. Multi-family housing starts fell 6,000 or 1.61% to 367,000 in November from 372,000 during October.
BUILDING PERMITS, a preview of future housing starts fell 1.37% to 1,298,000 during November from 1,316,000 one month
Wednesday, December 6th
THIRD QUARTER PRODUCTIVITY accelerated at an unrevised annualized rate of 3.0% from 1.5% during Q2 and as compared
to 1.5% y/y. Meanwhile, HOURLY COMPENSATION rose at a revised annualized rate of 2.5%, down from an initially recorded
3.5%, up from 0.3% during Q2 and versus 0.8% 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 upwardly revised annualized rate of 4.8%, up from an initial estimate of
0.5%, up from a drop of 1.2% during Q2 and as compared to 0.3% y/y.
Friday, December 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 0.7% during the third quarter, this following an 0.5% increase during Q2-2017. The ECI has risen by 2.5%
y/y. The wages & salaries component (70% of ECI) rose by 0.7% during Q3 vs. 0.5% during Q2-2017 and as compared to 2.5%
y/y. The cost of benefits rose by 0.8% over the past quarter, this after rising 0.6% during Q2-2017 and by 2.5% 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.