Free Markets, Free People

Economy

Economic Statistics for 6 Mar 15

The labor department reports that 295,000 net new jobs were created in January, as the unemployment rate fell from 5.7% to 5.5%. The labor force participation rate slipped -0.1% to 62.8% as 178,000 people left the labor force. Average hourly earnings rose 0.1%, while the average workweek remained unchanged at 34.6 hours. The U-6 unemployment rate, the broadest measure of labor utilization, fell from 11.3% to 11%. Normally, at this point, I would calculate the “real” unemployment rate based on the historical labor force participation rate of 66.2%. Well, I’m not going to do that any more. Labor force participation has been declining steadily for the past 15 years, so I’m no longer sure what the “real” labor force participation rate should be. Below is labor force participation since 1960.

Labor force participation rate since 1960

Lower oil prices narrowed the US Trade deficit from $-46.6 billion in December to $-41.8 billion in January.

Consumer credit rose $11.6 billion in January, but revolving credit fell $1.1 billion. Credit increases mainly came from auto financing and the government’s acquisition of student loans. 


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Economic Statistics for 5 Mar 15

Chain stores are reporting roughly the same rates of year-on-year sales growth as they did in January, indicating flat sales.

Challenger’s layoff count fell to 50,579 in February vs 53,041 in January. But, the monthly average during the 4th quarter was below 40,000, so the 1st quarter’s layoff count is significantly higher.

Nonfarm productivity growth for the 4th quarter 2014  was revised down to an annualized drop of -2.2%, as unit labor costs increased 4.1%.

Factory orders fell -0.2% in January, the 6th straight decline, as a -3.1% decline in non-durable goods offset a 2.8% rise in durables. The increase in durable goods orders, however, mainly resulted from the volatile transportation sector, due to a big gain for commercial aircraft, which jumped 9.7%.

Gallup’s US Payroll to Population rate dropped slightly in February from 44.1% to 43.9%.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 7,000 to 320,000. The 4-week average rose 10,250 to 304,750. Continuing claims rose 17,000 to 2.421 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.7 points to 43.5 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $0.9 billion last week, with total assets of $4.488 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-10.7 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $43.5 billion in the latest week.


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Economic Statistics for 4 Mar 15

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 0.1% last week, with purchases down -0.2% and refis up 1.0%.

ADP’s employment report estimates that 212,000 new private-payroll jobs were created in February.

Gallup’s U.S. Job Creation Index rose 1 point in February, to 29.

The US Services Purchasing Managers’ Index rose 2.9 points to 57.1 in February.

The ISM’s non-manufacturing index rose 0.2 points, little changed at 56.9.

The Fed’s Beige Book describes current economic expansion as “moderate.” Inflation is seen as flat. Consumer spending is up most Districts. 


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Economic Statistics for 3 Mar 15

Motor vehicle sales fell for the 3rd straight month in January, down -2.6 to a 16.2 million annual rate. Foreign vehicle sales fell -8.8% to a 3.1 million rate, while sales of vehicles made in North America fell 0.7% to a 13.5 million rate.

The Gallup Economic Confidence Index fell -2 points to 1 in February.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales fell -0.1% to 2.7% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 2.8%.


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Economic Statistics for 2 Mar 15

Personal income rose 0.3% in January, while consumer spending fell -0.2%. The PCE Price index, an inflation measure, fell -0.5%, though the core index, i.e., ex-food and -energy, rose 0.1%. On a year-over-year basis, income rose 4.6%, while spending rose 3.6%. ON the same basis, the PCE Price index is up 0.2% at the headline level, and 1.3% at the core.

Gallup’s self-reported Daily Consumer Spending measure was little changed in February, at $82, versus $81 in January.

The Markit PMI manufacturing index for February rose 1.2 points from the final January reading, coming in at 55.1. 

The ISM Manufacturing Index weakened by -0.6 points to 52.9 in February.

January construction spending was worse than expected, with a -1.1% decline. On a year-ago basis, spending is up only 1.8%.


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Economic Statistics for 27 Feb 15

The first revision to 4Q 2015 GDP was dropped to a 2.2% annualized rate, from the originally reported 2.6%. On the plus side, though, much of the decrease was in inventory investment revisions, while the final sales of domestic product component was revised up to 3.2% from 2.8%.

The Chicago PMI pounded into below-50 negative territory in February, falling from 59.4 to 45.8. Monday, we’ll see if the Chicago PMI presages a national decline in the PMI.

The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index rose 1.8 points in February, to 95.4.

The National Association of Realtors’ pending home sales index rose 1.7% in January to a moderately strong 104.2.


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Economic Statistics for 25 Feb 15

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -3.5% last week, with purchases up 5.0%, but refis down -8.0%.

New home sales were little changed in January, at a better-than-expected 481,000 annual rate, nearly unchanged from December’s big jump of 8.1% to 482,000. Price concessions may have helped sales, as the median sales price fell 2.6% to $294,000. 


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Economic Statistics for 24 Feb 15

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales slowed to 2.8% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 3.2%.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 0.9% in December, with prices up 4.5%, year-over-year.

A strong rebound in new work helped boost to Markit’s PMI Services Flash for February 3 points to a 4-month high of 57.0. 

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index fell -7.4 points to 96.4 in February.

The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index shows no change in manufacturing activity in the Mid-Atlantic District, with the index at 0 for February.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index fell -1.5 points in January to 105.2, with weakness centered in Europe as uncertainty about Greece continues.


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