Topic: Consumer Price Index
Clarksville, TN – The economic data were mixed, but consistent with the theme of global softness and domestic strength. Unit auto sales improved further in September – and, combined with the August data on personal income and spending, suggest that inflation-adjusted consumer spending (70% of GDP) is on track to have expanded at an annual pace of 3.5% to 4.0% in 3Q15.
The trade deficit in goods widened sharply in August, with that split evenly between stronger imports (despite lower oil prices) and weaker exports. Net exports and an inventory correction are expected to subtract significantly from 3Q15 GDP growth, but underlying domestic demand appears to have remained strong.
Clarksville, TN – The Federal Open Market Committee delayed the start of policy normalization, citing concerns about global economic and financial developments.
The FOMC is not reacting to overseas developments per se, but rather to the implications for the U.S. economy (some restraint on growth, further downward pressure on inflation). In the revised dot plot, there was little agreement about where the federal funds rate would be at the end of 2016 and 2017.
Clarksville, TN – The economic calendar was light. Existing home sales were stronger than anticipated in March, but new home sales fell far short of expectations. Durable goods orders jumped 4.0%, but that reflected a surge in aircraft orders (which tend to be erratic). Ex-transportation, orders fell 0.2%.
Orders for core capital goods (nondefense and excluding aircraft) fell 0.5%, the seventh consecutive monthly decline. Unfilled orders (ex-transportation) fell further (not a good sign), while the inventory-to-shipment ratio continued to trend higher – both of these indicators bear watching, but neither is at a dangerous level.
Clarksville, TN – The economic data reports were mixed. Retail sales picked up in March, following a weak trend in the three previous months. Industrial production fell 0.6%, reflecting a plunge in oil and gas drilling and a decrease in the output of utilities (more normal temperatures).
Manufacturing output edged up 0.1%, with mixed results across industries. Building permits and housing starts fell in March, largely reflecting the usual volatility in the multi-family sector. Single-family permits, the key figure in the report, rose 2.1% (up 4.1% y/y).
Clarksville, TN – The economic data were mixed, but the February Employment Report was stronger than expected. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 295,000 (±105,000), with a revision to January of -18,000. The BLS indicated that the payroll survey missed most of the bad weather that hit last month.
The household survey showed that 328,000 could not make it to work due to bad weather, which is about average (it was 601,000 in February 2014). Average weekly hours held steady (no weather impact).
Clarksville, TN – Greece’s reform proposals were accepted by European finance ministers, effectively kicking the can down the road for another four months.
In her monetary policy testimony, Fed Chair Janet Yellen signaled that the Fed will begin to consider raising short-term interest rates on a meeting-by-meeting basis. Before then, the Fed will change its forward guidance (currently, the language suggests that the Fed can be “patient” in deciding when to raise rates).
Clarksville, TN – Mixed, but generally favorable, earnings reports and an ebbing in Ebola fears helped propel the major stock market indices higher.
The economic data were largely irrelevant. The Consumer Price Index continued to show a low trend in inflation (+1.7% y/y for both the headline index and the core). Home sales figures were mixed. The Index of Leading Economic Indicators rose 0.8% suggesting little chance of a recession anytime soon
Next week, the earnings calendar is brisk with about a third of the companies in the S&P 500 reporting. There are two key items on the economic calendar: the Fed policy meeting and the advance estimate of 3Q14 GDP growth.
Clarksville, TN – What a week. Concerns about the downside risks to Europe and the rest of the world pushed global equity markets down and the U.S. followed. The economic data mattered little for the most part, but disappointing retail sales figures added to the drop in U.S. stocks on Wednesday.
Yields on long-term Treasuries sank sharply. Following a few days of elevated volatility, the financial markets appeared to settle down on Friday.
Clarksville, TN – Market participants had expected Fed Chair Janet Yellen to adopt a decidedly “dovish” tone in her Jackson Hole speech.
However, Yellen presented a balanced assessment of the evidence and theories of labor market slack. While Yellen still sees plenty of labor market slack currently, she left the monetary policy outlook as an open question.
She repeated the notion (also included in the FOMC minutes) that the Fed could firm monetary policy sooner if the economy strengthens more than anticipated, but could also tighten more slowly if the economy disappoints.
Clarksville, TN – The few economic releases were generally positive and reports on corporate earnings were mostly on the high side of expectations, but the stock market seemed to pay little attention. Geopolitical tensions (Russia/Ukraine, Iraq, Israel/Hamas) and the ongoing Fed policy debate set market participants on edge.
Geopolitical concerns helped push global bond yields sharply lower. The U.S. Treasury note yield fell below 2.40%.
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