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Economic statistics

Economic Statistics for 05 Dec 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

Factory orders fell -0.4% in October with both orders for durables goods down -0.5%, and orders for non-durable goods down -0.3%. But this is a report from October, and last week’s ISM manufacturing index indicates that orders came back fairly strongly in November. Whether that will continue if the Euro collapses is another question.

Speaking of the ISM, the non-manufacturing index today shows some slowing in the service sector, as the index fell from 52.9 to 52. A reading above 50 generally indicates expansion.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 2 Dec 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

The big number today is the monthly employment situation. The BLS released the headline as "Unemployment rate falls to 8.6% in November; payroll employment rises by 120,000". The numbers behind the headline are less impressive. Actually, the headline isn’t all that impressive, considering that 120,000 new jobs is, at best, an anemic rate of job growth.  Also, it’s the time of year when a fair amount of hiring is seasonal, for temporary Christmas jobs, which can make the employment situation look better than it actually is, despite the seasonal adjustments to the data employed by BLS. Looking deeper, the labor force participation rate  continued to fall -0.2% to 64% as nearly half a million workers left the labor force.If the labor force participation rate was at the historical average of 66%, the unemployment rate would be 11.41%.  2.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, about the same as last November.  The average workweek is unchanged at 34.3 hours, where it has been since September. Even worse, average earnings declined this month with the average hourly wage dropping 2 cents an hour to  $23.18. So, I think we can say that the drop in the unemployment rate is mainly due to people leaving the labor force, as the rate of job creation is weak.  Also, the lack of change in the workweek, and decline in wages implies that hiring pressure among firms is essentially non-existent as there has been no increase in the workweek for three months, and a glut of labor still exists as upward pressure on wages reversed this month. The only positive thing I can glean from this report comes from the household survey, where the number of respondents who are employed rose 278,000 to 140,580,000.

Monster.Com reports their employment index fell 4 points in November to 147 as online recruitment slowed.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 1 Dec 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

Today’s chain-store results do NOT confirm the widespread anecdotal reports of a strong Black Friday week, trending at a same-store year-on-year 2.5%.

Initial jobless claims rose 6,000 to 402,000 in a short Thanksgiving week, which clouds the results.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index remained steady at -50.2 compared to the previous -50.1.

The ISM Manufacturing Index rose to 52.7, and many of the sub-indexes rose sharply, a good sign for the economy.

Construction spending rose 0.8% last month, which is nice, even though it’s rising from an extremely depressed base.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 30 Nov 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that mortgage applications were down by -11.7%, but the short Thanksgiving week clouds the significance of this week’s results. Delving deeper into the report shows new purchase applications were down -0.8% while refinance apps fell -15.3%.

The Challenger Job-Cut Report shows layoff announcements are fairly steady this month at 42,474 compared to 42,759 in October and 48,711 last year.

ADP, the country’s largest third-party payroll processor, estimates private payrolls rose 206,000 in November. We’ll see if Friday’s Employment Situation confirms that.

3Q productivity and costs were revised downward slightly, with productivity increasing at 2.3% annually, while labor costs fell -2.5%. This is pretty much in line with the GDP revision for 3Q.

The Chicago PMI indicates a pickup in business activity for the Chicago area, with the index rising to 62.6 from 58.4. This report is widely seen as a predictor of the national PMI, which will be released tomorrow.

The National Association of Realtors reports their pending home sales index rose to 93.3 from 84.5.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 29 Nov 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index jumped sharply upwards, from 39.8 to 56, mainly on employment optimism.

Distress sales and foreclosures seem to be pushing the housing sector deeper into contraction. The S&P Case-Shiller home price index fell again, -0.6% for the month, and -3.6% for the year. On the other hand, the FHFA  reports housing prices rose 0.9% last month, though they’re still down -2.2% on a year over year basis. But, the FHFA only reports on conventional loans or those bundled by government agencies—which often has price caps. Case-Schiller is far more broad, and the FHFA picture is probably missing a lot of trouble in the housing sector.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index rose 2 points to 97.2 from a revised 95.2 last month, as institutional investors became a bit more jaunty.

Finally in retail sales, Redbook reports a year-over-year jump of 5.4% in sales last week. ICSC-Goldman is also strong, with sales up 1.7% for the week, and up 4% over last year.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 28 Nov 11

It’s a heavy week for economic statistics, culminating in the Employment Situation on Friday, but we start the week off light:

New home sales rose 1.3% in October. That’s a solid gain, but the total of 307,000 was a bit below expectations.

The Dallas Fed general business activity index rose to 2.3 from -14.4., its first positive reading in six months.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 23 Nov 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

The Mortgage Bankers’ Association reports that mortgage applications fell -1.2% in the Nov 18 week, with purchase apps up 8.2%, but re-finance apps down -4%.

Weakness in the transportation sector led durable goods orders down -0.7% last month, but up 7.5% from last year. Ex-transportation, orders were up 0.7% for the month, and 11.7% for the year.

Personal spending and income both rose last month, with spending up 0.1% and income up 0.4%. On a year-over-year basis, income has risen 3.9$, but spending rose faster, at 4.7%. The Price Index rose by 0.1% for the month, and 1.7% year-over-year.

Initial unemployment claims rose to 393,000 from last week’s revised 391,000. The 4-week average fell from 396,750 to 394,250.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index was -50.1 last week, from -50 a week earlier. The index has hovered at -50 for 9 weeks.

The Reuters/University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment index fell slightly, to 64.1 from 64.2 last period.

Manufacturing growth in the Kansas City Fed’s district eased slightly, with the KC Fed Index falling from 8 to 4. Future expectations remained solid, though.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 22 Nov 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

3rd Quarter GDP took a downward bump on the Commerce Department’s first revision from 2.5% to 2%. Analysts had expected a revision to 2.4%, so today’s revision was well below that.

The Richmond Fed Index ended 4 months of contraction, coming in at 0, indicating no growth or contraction.

Corporate after-tax profits in the 3rd quarter rose 6.5%.

In weekly retail sales, ICSC-Goldman Store Sales were down -0.9% for the week, and only up 2.8% year-over year. Meanwhile, Redbook reports strong 3.7% sales growth over last year.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 18 Nov 11

Today’s economic statistical releases, or rather release, since there’s only one, the Index of leading indicators.  Which actually looks pretty good this month, up 0.9%. There’s only one negative element for the month: vendor deliveries are showing slightly fewer delays, which pretty minor. The report indicates that the risk of a downturn or recession is receding. That’s good news.

Or, would be, if Italy, Spain, Ireland, and Portugal weren’t ready to go belly up in default, destroy the Euro, trash global banking, and plunge the world into a Second Great Depression.

But, you take the good with the bad, right?

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Dale Franks
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