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Economic Statistics for 15 Dec 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

Initial jobless claims dropped sharply for the 2nd week in a row, falling 19,000 to 381,000. The four-week average is down 6,500 to 387,750, and has dropped for 10 of the past 12 weeks. One note of caution, however, is that the holiday period can make the numbers volatile, and there are lots of special factors that can affect the numbers. Still, the trend is positive, overall, and is looking better than it has at any time since the recovery—such as it is—began.

Food prices pushed the Producer Price Index higher, up 0.3% for the month and 5.7% for the year. The core rate, which ignores food and energy prices, was up 0.1% last month, and 2.9% over the last year.

Industrial production fell -0.2% last month, well below expectations for a 0.2% increase. Manufacturing was down across the board, but auto manufacturing particularly declined. Capacity utilization also dropped slightly to 77.8%. In contrast to this morning’s industrial production numbers, the Empire State Manufacturing Survey rose well above expectations to 9.53. Especially heartening is new orders which rose to 5.1 versus -2.07 last month. In addition, the Philly Fed’s general activity index rose to 10.3 from November’s 3.6, as manufacturing in the Philly Fed district grew at a faster rate.

The nation’s current account deficit narrowed to $110.3 billion in the third quarter, the smallest gap since Q4 2009.

Inflow of investment income into the US slowed sharply in October, to a net $4.8 billion compared to $68.3 billion in September.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to the highest level in two months, to -49.9. Of course, -49.9 still isn’t good.

Dale Franks
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