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Economic statistics


Economic Statistics for 21 Feb 12

This is a fairly thin week for economic data, and today only has one statistics release of any interest.

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index rose from 0.17 last month, to 0.22 this month. The 3 month moving average was up sharply, though, to 0.14 from last month’s -0.19. Production, consumption, and housing remain a drag on the economy, however.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 16 Feb 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US Economy:

Housing starts rose 1.5% to a 699,000 annual rate, following last month’s -1.9% drop. Housing permits declined to a 676,000 annual rate.

Initial claims for unemployment fell 13,000 last week to 348,000. The 4-week moving average fell to 365,250.

Producer prices rose 0.1% overall last month, but the core rate, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.4%.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose for the 4th straight week to reach the highest level in a year, which is…-39.8.

The Philadelphia Fed Survey’s General Business Conditions Index rose 3 points this month to 10.2.

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Economic Statistics for 15 Feb 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US Economy:

The Mortgage Bankers’ Association reports that mortgage purchase applications fell -8.4%, while refinance apps rose just 0.8% last week. This brings the composite to a -1.0% drop.

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey’s General Business Conditions Index rose sharply to 19.53, the best reading in 18 months.

The Treasury reports that net demand for US securities was $17.9 billion in December, on $21.0 billion of sales, offset by $38.9 billion in sales of foreign securities from US accounts. Foreign buying of US long-term securities was weak, and foreigners were net sellers of US equities for the third month in a row.

The Fed reports industrial production was unchanged last month. Capacity utilization dropped to 78.5% from 78.6% in December.

The Housing Market Index rose sharply to 29 from last month’s 25. This is the 5th straight increase, and the second straight 4-point rise. One notes, however, that these increases have not yet shown up in the hard housing data.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 14 Feb 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US Economy:

Despite strong core numbers, weak auto sales meant that retail sales were up a less-than-expected 0.4% for January. Ex-autos, retail sales rose 0.7%, and removing gasoline sales brings the core number to 0.6%.

In weekly store sales, ICSC-Goldman reports a weak -2.0% drop in sales, with the year-on-year rate at 2.8%. Redbook is also weak at a 2.7% same store sales increase from last year.

Export prices rose 0.2% for January, which is up 2.5% from last year. Import prices rose 0.3% for the month, and 7.1% for the year.

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index rose very slightly to 93.9 in January.

The Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index fell 1.7% in January to a level of 93.17.

Business inventories rose 0.4% in December. Sales rose 0.7%, so the stock-to-sales ratio dropped to 1.26.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 9 Feb 12

Today’s economic statistical releases:

Initial claims for unemployment fell 15,000 last week to 358,000, while the 4-week average dropped 11,000 to 366,250. This is strongly positive for job growth. Or it means that, after losing 7 million jobs since 2007, we’ve pretty much fired everyone who can usefully be fired.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to -41.7 from -44.8 last week.

In wholesale trade, inventories rose  a strong 1.0% in December, and a 1.3% rise in sales leaves the stock-to-sales ratio unchanged at 1.15.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 3 Feb 12

Today’s economic statistical releases:

Factory orders rose a very healthy 1.1% in December. November’s orders were also upwardly revised to a 2.2% jump.

A very strong ISM non-manufacturing report showed the index jump to 56.8—well above expectations—based on a huge jump in employment and new orders.

The Monster employment index fell to 133 in January from 140 in December.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 243,000 new net jobs were created last month, while the unemployment rate fell to 8.2%. Average hourly earnings increased 0.2%, and the average workweek rose to 34.5 hours. The new jobs came entirely from private payrolls, with private jobs increasing by 257,000. All is not quite as rosy as the headline numbers indicate, however:

  • Another 132,000 people left the labor force, as the labor force declined from 153,617,000 to 153,485,000.
  • The labor force participation rate declined to 63.4, the lowest since February, 1984.
  • The number of Americans who consider themselves employed rose to 139,944,000 from 139,869,000 last month, an increase of only 75,000. Meanwhile, the working age population rose from 239,618,00 to 424.269,000, an increase of 2,651,000.

So, some things to keep in mind might be a comparison of the peak of the last cycle’s employment, in November of 2007 to today. In making that comparison, some things become much clearer:

  • In November, 2007, 63.15% of Americans had a job. In Feburary, 2012, it was 57.76%.
  • In November, 2007, there were 147,118,000 Americans working. This month, that number was 139,944,000. That’s 7.1 million jobs that have disappeared.
  • If the labor force participation rate was the same today as it was in November 2007 (66.1%), today’s unemployment rate would be 12.61%.

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Dale Franks
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