Free Markets, Free People

Dale Franks

Dale Franks’ QandO posts

Economic Statistics for 23 Dec 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

A big surge in civilian aircraft pushed durable goods orders up 3.8%. Ex-transportation, orders rose 0.3%. On a year-over-year basis, orders were up 12.1% overall, and 7.2% ex-transportation.

Both personal income and personal spending rose by 0.1% in November.

New home sales rose 1.6% in November to a 315,000 annual unit rate. Over the last few months, sales have picked up modestly, but from a very low levels, and house prices have continued to decline,m down 3.8% last month to a median price of $214,100.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 22 Dec 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

The Commerce Department’s 3rd estimate of 3Q GDP was again revised downwards, to a 1.8% annualized rate.On a year over year basis, GDP was up 1.5% over 3Q 2010. The downward revision was led by a smaller decline in inventories and less growth in personal consumption.

Initial claims for unemployment fell for the 3rd consecutive week, down 4,000 to a much lower-than-expected level of 364,000. Continuing claims fell 79,000 to 3.546 million, the lowest level of the recovery.

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index fell to -0.37 in November from a revised -0.11 in October. Housing is still heavily negative in the report.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index climbed to -45 in the period ended December 18 from -49.9 the prior week.

Consumer sentiment continued to improve, to 69.9 in December from 64.1 in November.

The FHFA reported that house prices in October unexpectedly declined -0.2% after rising 0.4% in September. Analysts had expected a 0.3% rise in prices, not further downward price pressure.

The index of leading economic indicators rose 0.5% in November following October’s 0.9% increase. Positive elements include the treasury rate spread, building permits, consumer expectations, building permits, and falling unemployment claims.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 21 Dec 11

Today’s economic statistical releases are a bit conflicted:

MBA Purchase Applications fell -2.6% overall last week, with purchases dropping -4.9% and re-fis falling -1.6%. So the positive housing numbers we’ve seen so far this month haven’t affected actual sales. Interest rates are attractively low, but that is balanced by poor employment conditions, tight credit, and a lack of equity.

A sweeping revision to the data method has sharply lowered the last 5 years of existing home sales reports. But last month, sales rose 4%, anyway, well above expectations, and the rest of the report is pretty positive, too, with housing prices firming up, and supply falling. Also, the gains are concentrated in single-family dwellings, and well-distributed geographically.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 20 Dec 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

Housing starts jumped 9.3% to an annual rate of 685,000. But that jump is led by a 25.3% jump in multi-family dwellings, so don’t assume that individuals are getting ready to buy single-family homes again. Also, the surge is led by a 53.8% increase in the Northeast, balancing off an  18.2% decline in the Midwest.

ICSC-Goldman reports a big bump in retail sales, up 3.4% for the week, and 4.6% over last year. Redbook, however, shows a far more modest increase, with same store sales only up 0.5% from last week, at 3.4%, while the month-to-month number is actually down -2.7%. That doesn’t bode well for the government’s retail sales report for December.

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Dale Franks
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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 18 Dec 11

This week–our last podcast before we go on hiatus for the Christmas Holidays–Bruce, Michael, and Dale talk about the end of the Iraq war, and the Republican nomination race.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

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GOP Candidate Thumbnails

After watching last night’s debate, I think I’ve finally nailed down my final impressions of the candidates.

I can’t help it, but every time I see Michelle Bachmann, she strikes me as being minutes away from boiling a bunny. But she hides the whole Fatal Attraction vibe pretty well.

Newt Gingrich seems to have a high opinion of himself, and the massively weighty thoughts that spring from his Olympian brow. He seems to content to let other people follow up on those ideas, as he’s too busy producing new deep thoughts to craft the old ones into reality. Thank God.

When Ron Paul starts his inevitable tirade against the Freemasons/Jews, I can’t say I will be surprised.

Mitt Romney almost convinces me that he does have core conservative principles. Almost.

If I close my eyes when Rick Perry speaks, the foremost image in my mind is George W. Bush. A slightly more eloquent one, of course.

A Rick Santorum/John Edwards ticket would have been the prettiest campaign team EVER. And talk about a "big tent"!

What can I say about Jon…um…Hunter? Hu….mmmm…Huntsman! Yes. Huntsman—that hasn’t already been said? Very distinguished hair.

Gary Johnson is a way friendlier face for libertarianism than Ron Paul. Or would be, if anyone outside New Mexico had ever heard of him.

If Jeb Bush could change his last name to "Rogers" or something, and jump into the race, he would probably lock up the nomination in days.

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Dale Franks
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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.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 14 Dec 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

Mortgage applications rose 4.1% last week, with purchases dropping -8.2% and re-finance applications up 9.3%. The 30-year mortgage rate averaged 4.12%., the lowest rate of the year.

Import prices rose 0.7% last month—9.9% for the year—due to spikes in petroleum prices. Ex-Petroleum, prices fell -0.2%, following a 0.3 percent ex-petroleum decline in the prior month. Export prices rose 0.1% for the month and 4.7% over last year.

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Dale Franks
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