The Consumer Price Index rose 0.2% both overall, and less food and energy, in March. On a year-over-year basis, the CPI is unchanged at the headline level, and up 1.8% at the core.
The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index rose 2.9 points to 95.9 in April.
The Conference Board’s index of leading indicators rose only 0.2% in March following a downwardly revised gain of only 0.1% in February.
Housing starts in March rose a disappointing 2.0%, following February’s -15.3 decline. Starts came in at an annualized 0.926 million. Housing permits, an indicator of future activity, were also disappointing, falling -5.7% to a 1.039 million annual rate. On a year-over-year basis, housing starts were down -2.5% while permits were up 2.9%.
The Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey rose 2.5 points in April to 7.5.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -1.3 points to 46.6 in the latest week.
Initial weekly jobless claims rose 12,000 to 294,000. The 4-week average rose 250 to 282,750. Continuing claims fell 40,000 to a new 15-year low of 2.268 million.
The Fed’s balance sheet rose $1.9 billion last week, with total assets of $4.485 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $4.4 billion.
The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose a sharp $78.9 billion in the latest week.
The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -2.3% last week, with purchases down 3.0% and refis down -2.0%.
The Empire State manufacturing index fell into negative territory at -1.19 in April, compared to 6.90 in March.
The Fed reports that industrial production fell -0.6% in March, while capacity utilization in the nation’s factories fell -0.5% to 78.4%.
The Atlanta Fed’s Business Inflation Expectations survey held steady, in April, with businesses’ year-long inflation expectations at 1.7%.
The NAHB housing market index rose 3 points in April to 56.
The Fed’s Beige Book reported that economic activity in five Districts is expanding “moderately”, and is overall “modestly” positive but still sluggish.
Net foreign demand for long-term US securities rose $9.8 billion in February. Japan, for the first time since 2008, replaced China as the largest holder of US Securities.
The Treasury Department reports that government’s budget deficit came in at $-52.9 billion in March, compared to $-36.9 billion in March, 2014. Six months into fiscal 2015, the government’s deficit is 6.3% over March 2014 at $-439.5 billion.
Producer Prices for Final Demand rose 0.2% overall in March. On a year-over-year basis, prices have fallen -0.8%. PPI-FD less food & energy was also up 0.2%, and is up 0.9% on a year-ago basis. Other components:
- PPI-FD less food, energy & trade services – M/M change: 0.2%
- PPI-FD less food, energy & trade services – Y/Y change: 0.8%
- PPI-FD Goods – M/M change: 0.3%
- PPI-FD Goods – Y/Y change: -4.3%
- PPI-FD Services – M/M change: 0.1%
- PPI-FD Services – Y/Y change: 0.9%
Retail sales in March rose a healthy 0.9% after dropping -0.5% in February.
Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales rose only 1.1% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 3.4%, as an early Easter shifted dales to March.
The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index fell a sharp -2.8 points to 95.2 in March.
Business inventories rose 0.3% in February. Sales kept track with inventories, leaving the stock-to-sales ratio at a fat 1.36, the highest ratio since July, 2009.
Chain stores are reporting generally good sales for March today, as an early Easter pulled sales from April.
Wholesale inventories rose 0.3% in February, while a -0.2% drop in sales left the stock-to-sales ratio at a boated 1.29.
Initial weekly jobless claims rose 14,000 to 281,000. The 4-week average fell 3,000 to 282,250. Continuing claims fell 23,000 to 2.304 million.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 1.7 points to 47.9 in the latest week.
The Fed’s balance sheet rose $1.6 billion last week, with total assets of $4.483 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $0.7 billion.
The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $10.5 billion in the latest week.
The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose o.4% last week. Purchases rose 7.0%, but re-fis fell -3.0%.
The minutes of the Fed’s last FOMC meeting shows some concern about when–and how–to raise rates and unwind Quantitative Easing. The minutes show that making monetary policy changes very gradually is going to be the policy. Policy changes may begin as early as the summer, though this, of course, will be data-driven.
The Labor Department JOLTS report shows 5.133 million job openings on the last business day of February, versus 4.965 million in January.
Consumer credit rose a $15.5 billion in February, mainly on autos and government acquisition of student loans. Revolving credit fell $-3.7 billion, which seems to be bad news for consumer spending, especially as revolving credit has fallen in four of the last five months.
Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales rose to 3.4% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 3.0%.
Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index fell -3 points to -2 in March.
The composite index from the ISM non-manufacturing survey for March fell -0.4 points to 56.5.
The Markit PMI services index rose 2.1 point to 59.2 in March.
Gallup’s self-reported Consumer Spending measure shows Americans’ spending averaged $86 In March, versus $82 in February.
The Federal Reserve’s Labor Market Conditions Index fell sharply from a revised 2.0 in February to -0.3 in March.
The only statistical release on the Calendar today is the Employment Situation, which, for March, was pretty bad. Only 126,000 net new jobs were created, while the departure of 96,000 people from the labor force helped keep the unemployment rate unchanged at 5.5%. The labor force participation rate fell a tick to 62.7%, the lowest since February, 1978. Average hourly earnings rose 0.3%, but the average work week fell by -0.1 hours to 34.5 hours. Net new jobs in January and February were revised down a net 69,000. Market expectations for March were for a 247,000 increase in net new jobs. Despite recent claims of a strengthening labor market, there’s little evidence of it in today’s report.