Clarksville, TN – The mid-month economic data disappointed. Retail sales were weaker than anticipated in April. Industrial production fell short of expectations. Consumer sentiment slid in the mid-May assessment.
However, weekly claims for unemployment benefits remained remarkably low. The reports on import prices and producer prices continued to show disinflationary pressures.
Real GDP for the euro area rose 0.4% q/q (a 1.7% annual rate) in the flash estimate for the first quarter. Bond yields in Europe moved higher, but seemed to meet some resistance.
Clarksville, TN – The April employment report was in line with expectations. Details suggested: 1) a rebound from March weather effects; 2) some moderation in the underlying pace of job growth (relative to the very brisk pace of 4Q14); and 3) a very gradual pace of reduction in labor market slack.
Nonfarm payrolls rose by 223,000, while the weather-restrained March increase was revised down to +85,000 (from +126,000) – leaving an average monthly gain of 154,000 for March and April. The unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 5.4%. Average hourly earnings rose 0.1%, up 2.2% year-over-year (still lackluster).
Clarksville, TN – GDP growth slowed to a 0.2% annual rate in the advance estimate for 1Q15, reflecting a variety of restraints (weather, West Coast port delays, the strong dollar, and a contraction in energy exploration), many of which are likely to be transitional. Consumer spending rose at a 1.9% pace (vs. +4.4% in 4Q14). Business investment fell, with “mining exploration, shafts, and wells” falling at a 48.7% annual rate.
Inventories rose more than anticipated, adding 0.7 percentage point to growth. Net exports subtracted 1.3 percentage points. Personal income was flat in March, but inflation-adjusted disposable income rose at a 6.2% annual rate in 1Q15 (which is likely to support consumer spending growth in 2Q15).
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 calendar was thin. Stock market participants finally got their chance to react to the disappointing employment data for March (the report was released on Good Friday).
However, the negative response was brief, as the market opened lower on Monday and then quickly turned up. The markets seemed to be looking for direction through the week, but failed to find much in the early earnings reports.
Clarksville, TN – The economic data were mixed, but generally disappointing, consistent with first quarter GDP growth closer to 0% (growth is widely expected to pick up again in the 2Q15). Consumer confidence improved more than anticipated in March and motor vehicle sales picked up.
However, the ISM manufacturing data suggested a slowdown in the factory sector (likely related to the stronger dollar, although survey respondents continued to note West Coast port delays).
Clarksville, TN – The economic data were mixed, adding little to the overall picture. Durable goods orders disappointed (again), with orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft (a rough proxy for business fixed investment) down for the sixth consecutive month. Unfilled orders are falling and inventories are outpacing shipments – both are bad signs, but neither is yet at a dangerous level.
Home sales figures were mixed. The third estimate of fourth quarter GDP growth came in at 2.2%, the same as in the previous estimate. This report included corporate profit data for 4Q14, which showed a moderate increase in domestic nonfinancial corporate profits, but a sharp drop in profits from abroad.
Clarksville, TN – As was widely anticipated, the Federal Open Market Committee removed the “patient” language from the policy statement, but indicated that “an increase in the target range for the federal funds rate remains unlikely at the April FOMC meeting.”
The FOMC noted that “economic growth has moderated somewhat” (vs. January’s “expanding at a solid pace”). In its Summary of Economic Projections, Fed officials lowered their forecasts for GDP growth and inflation. The dots in the dot plot (expectations of the appropriate year-end level of the federal funds rate) generally moved lower, implying a lower expected path of short-term interest rates in the months ahead.
Clarksville, TN – Retail sales results for February continued to disappoint and consumer sentiment slipped unexpectedly, but weather may have been a factor. The reports on import prices and producer prices both showed significant disinflationary pressure (which may be seen as delaying the Fed’s initial hike in short-term interest rates). Stock market volatility was elevated, with sharp moves day by day.
Market participants have grown increasingly worried about exchange rates. Around the world, exchange rates mostly fall under the jurisdiction of finance ministers (the Treasury in the U.S.), not the central banks.
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