Consumer prices rose 0.2% in February at both the headline and core levels, as energy prices made a bit of a comeback. On a year-over-year basis, the CPI is still down -0.1% overall, but is up 1.7% less food and energy.
Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales rose to a moderate 2.8% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 2.7%.
The FHFA House Price Index rose a lower-than-expected 0.3% in January. On a year-over-year basis, the index is up 5.1%.
The Markit PMI manufacturing index flash for March rose 0.9 points from the February final to 55.3.
New home sales picked up sharply in February to a 539,000 annual rate from January’s 481,000. The median price still fell a sharp 4.8% to $275,500, despite a tightening of supply from 5.1 months to 4.7 months.
The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index fell sharply from 0 to -8 in March, as both new orders and backlogs declined.
The Atlanta Fed reports that the year-ahead inflation expectations of businesses were 1.7% in March.
Existing home sales rose 1.2% in February to a still-lackluster 4.88 million annual pace, though the year-on-year rise of 4.7% shows some strength.
The Chicago Fed National Activity index was -0.11 in February, while the January reading has been revised down to -0.10 from 0.13. The 3-month average is now negative, at -0.08.
Initial weekly jobless claims 1,000 to 291,000. The 4-week average rose 2,250 to 304,750. Continuing claims fell 11,000 to 2.417 million.
The nation’s current account gap widened sharply by $-14 billion in the 4th quarter, to $-113.5 billion. Relative to GDP, the current account deficit rose 0.4% to 2.6%.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.9 points to 44.2 in the latest week.
The general business conditions index of the Philadelphia Fed Survey was little changed in March, down -0.2 points to 5.0.
The Conference Board’s index of leading indicators in February rose 0.2%, with the yield spread as the biggest positive indicator.
The Fed’s balance sheet rose $6.6 billion last week, with total assets of $4.496 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $10.7 billion.
The Fed reports that M2 money supply fell by $-28.1 billion in the latest week.
The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -3.9% last week, with purchases down -2.0% and refis down -5.0%.
The Federal Open Markets Committee left short-term interest rates unchanged today, at 0% to 0.25% for the Fed Funds rate target.
In today’s economic forecast, the Fed lowered it’s forecasts for both unemployment and economic growth, noting that growth is “moderating”. The Fed’s forecasts:
2015: 2.3 to 2.7%
2016: 2.3 to 2.7%
2017: 2.0 to 2.4%
longer run: 2.0 to 2.3%
2015: 0.6 to 0.8%
2016: 1.7 to 1.9%
2017: 1.9 to 2.0%
longer run: 2.0 %
2015: 52 to 5.3%
2016: 4.9 to 5.1%
2017: 4.8 to 5.1%
longer run: 5.0 to 5.2%
Essentially, the sub-par economic growth we’ve experienced since 2009 will continue for the foreseeable future.
Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales rose to a still-weak 2.7% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 2.6%.
Housing starts unexpectedly fell a sharp -17.0% in February, to a 0.897 million unit pace, which is down -3.3% on a year-ago basis. Housing numbers have generally been weak for the last few months.
The Empire State Manufacturing Survey fell from 7.78 to 6.90 in March, on softening orders.
The Fed reports that industrial production rose 0.1% in February, while capacity utilization in the nation’s factories fell -0.5% to 78.9%.
The NAHB housing market index slowed by -2 points to 53 in March.
Foreign accounts were big sellers of US long-term securities in January, as net demand for US securities fell $-27.2 billion.
The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index for March fell very sharply to 91.2, down 4.2 points from February.
Producer prices for final demand fell -0.5% in February. Prices ex-food and -energy were down -0.5%, as well. Prices less food, energy and trade services were unchanged. On a year-over-year basis, PPI-FD is down -0.7% overall, up 1.0% less food and energy, and up 0.7% less food, energy, and trade services.
Initial weekly jobless claims fell 36,000 to 289,000. The 4-week average 3,750 to 302,250. Continuing claims rose 13,000 to 2.417 million.
Falling auto sales drove overall retail sales down -0.6% in February. Sales less autos fell -0.1%, and sales less autos and gas fell -0.2%.
Export prices fell -0.1% in February, while import prices rose 0.4%. On a year-ago basis, prices are down -5.9% for exports and -9.4% for imports.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -0.2 points to 43.3 in the latest week.
Business inventories were unchanged in January, while a -2.0% drop in sales drove the stock-to-sales ratio up to 1.35. The stock-sales ratio has been rising steadily since July, 2014.
February’s Treasury deficit was $192.3 billion, and the fiscal year-to-date deficit is 2.7% higher than February 2014 at $386.5 billion.
The Fed’s balance sheet rose $1.7 billion last week, with total assets of $4.489 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $1.7 billion.
The Fed reports that M2 money supply fell by $-7.1 billion in the latest week.