Topic: Consumer Price Index
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%.
Clarksville, TN – As was widely anticipated, the Federal Open Market Committee tapered another $10 billion from the monthly pace of asset purchases (now at $25 billion, with the program on track to be completed at the end of October).
The Fed provided no additional guidance on short-term interest rates, but repeated that the federal funds rate target would likely remain exceptionally low for “a considerable period” after the asset purchase program ends and that economic conditions will likely warrant a below-normal federal funds rate even as the Fed nears its employment and inflation goals.
Clarksville, TN – The economic data were mixed. New home sales were much weaker than expected in June, with a sharp downward revision to May (March and April figures were also revised lower) – however, these figures are reported with an enormous level of uncertainty.
Existing home sales improved, with a further increase in the number of homes for sale. Durable goods orders rose moderately, but details showed a lackluster trend in shipments of nondefense capital goods. The Consumer Price Index rose 0.3% (+2.1% y/y), inflated partly by the seasonal adjustment for gasoline (which rose 0.3% before adjustment and +3.3% after adjustment). Ex-food & energy, the CPI edged up 0.1% (+2.0% y/y).
Clarksville, TN – The retail sales and industrial production reports had similar stories – gains in June were disappointing relative to expectations, but figures for April and May were revised higher. These data (which are subject to revision) are consistent with a sharp rebound in economic activity in 2Q14 (following weather–related weakness in 1Q14), but also suggest some loss of momentum heading towards 3Q14.
The Producer Price Index and import price reports showed no appreciable pipeline pressures for inflation.
Clarksville, TN – The January Employment Report was a mixed bag. Nonfarm payrolls rose by a less-than-expected 113,000 (vs. a median forecast of +185,000), following a subpar 75,000 gain in December.
However, seasonal adjustment and weather effects added uncertainty to the results. Details suggest that the weather may not have been much worse than a normal January, but December weather was more unfavorable.
Clarksville, TN – Real GDP rose at a 3.2% annual rate in the advance estimate for 4Q13, about as expected, but the details were a bit surprising. Consumer spending and business fixed investment, the key components, each rose at a respectable pace.
However, inventory growth, already elevated in 3Q13, rose further (and will likely subtract from GDP growth in 1H14). Net exports (a smaller trade deficit) added. Residential home building and government subtracted. Personal income figures rose meagerly in 4Q13, suggesting that we may see some slowing in spending ahead.
Clarksville, TN – With a thin economic calendar, U.S. investors typically focus on other things. Sometimes, that’s earnings reports (which have been generally good). Other times, it’s overseas developments.
While the economic situation seems to be improving in the United Kingdom and in Europe, the rest of the world is looking a bit shakier. There have been a number of concerns about individual countries in recent weeks (China, Turkey, Argentina, and so on), but these concerns appear to have now gelled into anxieties about emerging economies in general, which has weighed against U.S. stock market sentiment.
Clarksville, TN – There were few surprises in the economic data reports. Retail sales, industrial production, and the Consumer Price Index were all relatively close to expectations. Retail sales slowed in December, reflecting a pullback in unit auto sales, up moderately otherwise (weakness in department store sales were offset by stronger e-tail activity).
Industrial production rose 0.3%, held back by a drop in the output of utilities, but factory output accelerated in 4Q13, following a soft trend in the first three quarters of 2013 (consistent with improving trends in factory payrolls and new orders). Residential construction figures disappointed, but it’s hard to get too worked up about December data (which can be exaggerated due to the weather and seasonal adjustment).
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