Clarksville, TN – The economic calendar was light. Residential construction figures were mixed, largely reflecting the usual noise in the multi-family sector data (single-family starts and permits were little changed and still up strongly from a year ago). Existing home sales rebounded from a surprise drop in August. The four-week average for jobless claims fell to the lowest level since 1973.
Earnings reports were mixed, but investors appeared to be encouraged by the view that economic growth will continue, but not so fast that the Federal Reserve rushes to take away the punch bowl.
Clarksville, TN – The economic data were consistent with a lackluster to moderate pace of growth in the near term. Retail sales disappointed, reflecting strength in autos and lower gasoline prices (but a modest trend otherwise). Industrial production was a little soft.
The Producer Price Index showed downward pipeline pressures, and the Consumer Price Index was mixed (reflecting lower energy prices, but some pressure in shelter costs). Excluding food and energy, the CPI rose 0.2% (+1.9%), but if you also exclude shelter, core inflation would have been 0.1% (+1.0% y/y).
Tampa, FL – The price of gasoline inched up an average of about a cent during the past week, but prices leveled off during the weekend. The national average price of $2.29 is the cheapest for this day since 2004.
“Gas prices fluctuated during the past couple of weeks, because gasoline demand is unusually high at a time when refineries are entering their maintenance season,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Fortunately, the slight upward pressure on prices is typically short-lived and gasoline should get cheaper through the end of the year.”
Clarksville, TN – A few years ago, the journalist Kelsey Timmerman saw his favorite T-shirt on a growing mound of dirty clothes, and he noticed the tag said it was made in Honduras. For the next few minutes, he worked his way through the pile, wondering where the other garments came from.
“This question inspired the quest that took me around the globe,” Timmerman wrote in the prologue of his best-selling book, “Where Am I Wearing? A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People that Make Clothes.”
Clarksville, TN – The economic data were mixed, but generally consistent with moderately strong growth. Unit auto sales improved in August. The ISM Manufacturing Index slowed. The Non-Manufacturing Index pulled back a bit after surging in July (still strong). The Fed’s Beige Book described growth as evenly split between “modest” and “moderate” across the 12 Fed districts.
The August employment report was mixed, but generally strong. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 173,000 (median forecast: +220,000), but with a net revision of +44,000 to June and July.
Clarksville, TN – The equity markets, and subsequently investors, experienced some wild swings toward the end of August, spurred in part by China’s faltering economy and a drop in oil prices. On paper, global equities have lost trillions in value after China unexpectedly devalued its currency earlier this month.
The move triggered concern that one of the world’s largest economies, especially its manufacturing sector, is growing at a slower rate. Consumer confidence also declined in August as the stock market turbulence dulled Americans’ outlook for the economy.
Clarksville, TN – A sharp drop in China’s stock market rattled investors’ nerves around the world. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by more than 1,000 points at the open on Monday, regrouped, and then fell again, leaving the benchmark index down 588.
Volatility continued throughout the week, but investors were encouraged by China’s efforts to shore up its stock market and support economic growth. Oil prices fell further, but picked up by the end of the week. The market volatility has left investors struggling to figure out where share prices should be. Volatility is expected to decrease in coming days, but may continue for a while.
Clarksville, TN – The stock market sell-off continued Monday, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and other major domestic indices saw a significant drop in early morning trading, regained some ground as the day progressed, but still closed down 3% to 4% for the day.
Global markets were also down, notably in China, Hong Kong, Germany and the United Kingdom. The pullback appears to be driven by concern over slowing global growth, particularly as China’s economy (one of the world’s largest) falters, as well as the drop in commodity prices, namely oil.
Clarksville, TN – China’s leadership wants the yuan to become an important reserve currency, but that means that the country would have to let the currency float freely and be set by market forces. The People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, decided to alter its exchange rate regime.
The currency is allowed to trade in a 2% band around a level announced before the markets open. The PBOC said that this base level would simply be set at the previous session’s close (rather than taken out of the air).
Washington, D.C. – In the pantheon of natural disasters, floods are among the worst. By any metric—from financial ruin to human toll—floods rank alongside earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis. In fact, the most deadly disaster of the 20th century was the China floods of 1931, which may have resulted in more than a million deaths.
Predicting floods is notoriously tricky. They depend on a complex mixture of rainfall, soil moisture, the recent history of precipitation, and much more. Snowmelt and storm surges can also contribute to unexpected flooding.
Thanks to NASA, however, the predictions are improving.
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