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.
Challenger’s layoff count eased to 36,594 in March, well down from the 50,000+ reading of the last two months.
Lower oil prices sent the US trade deficit sharply lower in February, to $-35.4 billion, versus January’s revised $-42.7 billion.
After six straight months of decline, US Factory orders rose 0.2% overall, but the durables components was still down -1.4%.
Gallup’s U.S. Payroll to Population employment rate was 44.1% in March, up 0.2% from February.
Initial weekly jobless claims fell 20,000 to 268,000. The 4-week average fell 14,750 to 285,000 . Continuing claims 88,000 to 2.325 million. This is lowest weekly jobless claims number since April, 2000.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.7 points to 46.2 in the latest week.
The Fed’s balance sheet rose $1.2 billion last week, with total assets of $4.482 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-9.4 billion.
The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $3.1 billion in the latest week.
Reversing three months of decline, auto sales rose 6.2% in March, to a 17.2 million annual rate.
The Markit PMI manufacturing flash index for March rose 0.6 points from the February final to 55.7.
The composite index from the ISM manufacturing survey fell for the fifth straight month, down -1.4 points in March to 51.5.
Falling public outlays drove construction sending down unexpectedly by -0.1% in February. On a year-over-year basis, spending is up only 2.1%.
The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 4.6% last week, with purchases up 6.0% and refis up 4.0%.
ADP’s employment report shows a soft estimate of 189,000 new private sector jobs created in March.
Gallup’s U.S. Job Creation Index remained unchanged at 29 in March.
Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales firmed slightly to 3.0% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 2.8%.
The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 0.9% in January, with a year-on-year increase of 4.6%. The January rise follows a 0.9% increase in December and 0.8% in November.
The Chicago PMI rose 0.5 points in March to a still-negative 46.3. Numbers below 50 generally indicate a contraction in activity.
The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index jumped to 101.3 in March from 98.8 in February.
The State Street Investor Confidence Index surged this month, up 15.1 points to 120.1, mainly on American appetite for risk. European and Asian confidence both fell and lag far behind.