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Economic statistics

Economic Statistics for 10 Nov 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

The trade deficit improved last month, falling to -$43.1 billion. Sadly, the improvement comes largely from gold purchases, which isn’t a sign of confidence or hope. It’s a sign of a panicked flight to safety, based on a growing financial terror about the Euro Zone. Yesterday, Barclay’s came out and said (PDF) what everyone has been fearing: Italy is going to default on its debt, and no amount of economic reform will stop it.  Bye-bye, Euro.  Also yesterday, as I predicted, the French and Germans are now discussing  a "core" Euro zone, which would consist of…France and Germany. If Italy goes down, there’s simply no way to wall off the resulting bank failures, credit tightening, and economic contraction that will result from the evaporation of those assets. Presumably, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland will auger in shortly after Italy does, as their debt becomes impossible to service in the resulting Italian contraction. Yet, somehow, the failures of this model of political-economic policy seem lost on American policymakers.

Initial jobless claims continue to edge down, coming in at 390,000 this week. Last week’s claims were revised upwards by 3,000 to 400,000.

Export prices fell -2.1% last month, while import prices dropped -0.6%. On a year-over-year basis, export prices are up 6.3%, and import prices are up 11%.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index edged up slightly last week, though it remains near historic lows at 51.6.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 8 Nov 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index came roaring back this month rising 1.3 points to a still depressed 90.2.

In the weekly retail sales numbers, ICSC-Goldman reports same-store sales rose 1%, though the year-on-year rate dropped to 2.7%. Redbook, meanwhile, says year-on-year sales slowed significantly to 3.1%.

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Dale Franks
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The Employment Situation: Economic Statistics for 4 Nov 11

It’s all about employment today.

The Monster employment index rose three points to 151 as online recruiting increased in October.

What everyone is really interested in today, though, is the monthly Employment Situation. A disappointing 80,000 net new jobs were created last month, which was well below an already dismal expectation of 90,000 jobs. On the plus side, sharp revisions to prior months were unveiled. September jobs were revised to 158,000 from the originally reported 103,000, while August jobs were revised to  104,000 from the original 57,000. Sadly, we need in excess of 300,000 new jobs per month to begin growing jobs at a rate that will begin to replace the million lost since 2008. Earnings rose 0.2% last month, while the average workweek remained steady at 34.3 hours.

Essentially, the job market remains moribund, though the unemployment rate dropped to 9.0%. But, that drop in the unemployment rate reflects an increase of 277,000 in employment from the household survey, rather than discouraged workers leaving the workforce, which is a positive sign, as that figure has increased for three months in a row. The broadest measure of labor underutilization, the U-6 unemployment rate (Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force) also fell to 16.2% from last month’s 16.5%.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 3 Nov 11

Today’s economic calendar is fairly full, so let’s get cracking:

Initial jobless claims continue to drop slowly, with this week’s claims tallying 397,000, finally getting us below the awful 400,000 mark. Once again, though, last week’s number was revised upward to 406,000. These upward revisions have become quite commonplace.

Retail sales growth for October is mixed at best, trending at about 3% for same-store sales and about 5% for total sales.

Nonfarm business productivity jumped an annualized 3.1% in the 3rd quarter, much better than expected. Compensation growth, on the other hand, was restrained, rising an annualized 0.6%. Overasll, unit labor costs fell -2.4%.

Bloomberg reports that their consumer confidence index dropped to its lowest level since the 1st quarter of 2009, to -53.2.

Strong sales for non-durable goods and an upward revision to durable goods resulted in a better-than-expected 0.3% jump in September factory orders.

The ISM Non-Manufacturing index continues to point to steady, if slow, growth in the service sector, with the index at 52.9, just one tick below last month’s 53.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 2 Nov 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

ADP estimates that October private payrolls rose 110,000, little changed from September’s revised 116,000.

Challenger’s layoff report shows that layoff announcements eased in October to 42,759.

The Mortgage Bankers’ Association reports that mortgage purchase applications rose by 0.2% last week. Mortgage rates for 30-year conforming loans fell 2 basis points to 4.31%.

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Dale Franks
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Economic statistics for 1 Nov 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

Weekly retail sales: ICSC Goldman reports a 0.7% weekly rise in same-store sales and 3% year-on-year, while Redbook reports a year-on-year rate of 5.2%.

Despite some positive indicators, the ISM Manufacturing Index fell to a weaker than expected 50.8 from 51.6 last month. On the positive side, the key sub-index of new orders, which have been contracting for the last 3 months, show expansion in this report. The prices paid index also dropped substantially as prices for manufacturing inputs fell.

Construction spending in September gained 0.2% over the pervious month, which is still positive, but far slower than last month’s 1.4%. On a year over year basis, spending fell -1.3%.

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Dale Franks
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Economic statistics for 28 Oct 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

Personal income increased by 0.1% last month, while spending increased by 0.6%. Year-over-year income rose 4.4% while spending rose 5.3%. The core PCE price index was unchanged last month, and up 1.6% on a year-over-year basis.

Thanks to a slowdown in the growth of benefit costs, the Employment Cost Index rose far less than expected, 0.3%. ECI is up 2% on a year-over-year basis.

A little optimism is leaking into Consumer Sentiment, as it rose to 60.9 in the latest tally.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 27 Oct 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

The big number today is obviously the advance estimate for 3rd quarter GDP. The BEA reported that GDP increased at an annualized 2.5% rate. The top three contributors to GDP growth were personal consumption expenditures, nonresidential fixed investment, and exports. So despite a bit of gloom as the economy slipped during the 2nd quarter, GDP, along with several other series of statistics, are showing a rebound.

The Kansas City Fed manufacturing index rose to 6 in September, up from 3 last month. The increase was mainly concentrated in durable goods.

Sadly, the rest of today’s numbers are a bit less cheerful.

Initial claims for unemployment held basically steady, though still unpleasantly high, at 402,000. The 4-week moving average dropped to 403,000 from 405,500 last week.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell to -51.1 last week, from -48.4 the previous week. This week’s reading is the lowest in the past month.

Contract signings are very weak for existing home sales, which shows ongoing trouble for housing and construction. Pending sales fell -4.6% in September, with weakness in all geographic areas. Weak consumer confidence combined with tight credit conditions are weighing down the market.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 26 Oct 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

The Mortgage Bankers’ Association reports that mortgage applications bounced back from the short Columbus Day week, rising 4.9%.

Durable Goods Orders look sluggish, with a headline report of a -0.8% drop, but ex-transportation, orders rose   1.7%.

New home sales jumped 5.7% in September to a 313k annual rate, but the increase comes at the expense of a 3.1% drop in prices.

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Dale Franks
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