Topic: ISM Manufacturing Index
Clarksville, TN – The August Employment Report was a little light of expectations. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 151,000 (median forecast: +180,000), with a net revision to June and July of only -1,000. Private-sector payrolls rose by 126,000 – a +150,000 average over the last six months (vs. +221,000 in 2015 and +240,000 in 2014).
The unemployment rate held steady at 4.9% (vs. 5.1% a year ago). Average weekly hours fell (and hours for July were revised lower). Average hourly earnings rose just 0.1%, up 2.4% y/y.
Clarksville, TN – The economic data were mostly on the strong side of expectations. Nonfarm payrolls surprised sharply to the upside in June (+287,000), but that followed a very soft payroll figure for May (revised to +11,000).
The disappointing May number is now seen as an anomaly, but then so was the June figure. Large month-to-month swings in payrolls are unusual, but they do happen occasionally.
The three-month average payroll gain was +147,000, slower than in 1Q16 (+196,000) and 2015 (+221,000).
Clarksville, TN – Despite there being no plan for Brexit and expectations of a lengthy and uncertain process of disentanglement from the European Union, stock market fear subsided.
The impact on the U.S. economy of a weaker U.K. is expected to be small, and in some ways may even be positive (lower mortgage rates and greater capital flows to the U.S.). Long-term interest rates remain low.
Bank of England Governor Carney helped things along by suggesting that a rate cut would likely be warranted this summer (the BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet on July 14th).
Clarksville, TN – U.S. financial markets spent most of the week pricing in a greater likelihood that the United Kingdom would vote to remain in the European Union.
Oops. The surprise “leave” victory in the U.K. referendum sent markets reeling. Global stock markets fell sharply. The pound plunged (to a 30-year low). Bond yields sank, reflecting a flight to safety.
Still, this wasn’t a Lehman-type event. Market participants were simply caught leaning the wrong way. Prime Minister Cameron resigned, effective October, leaving his predecessor a lengthy negotiation with the EU on exit terms.
Clarksville, TN – The Federal Open Market Committee left short-term interest rates unchanged, as expected.
In its policy statement, the FOMC noted that “the pace of improvement in the labor market has slowed while growth in economic activity appears to have picked up.” At the same time, “growth in household spending has strengthened” and “the drag from net exports appears to have lessened.”
The dots in the dot plot drifted a bit lower (that is, expectations of future rate increases become even more gradual).
Clarksville, TN – Fed Chair Janet Yellen said she was “cautiously optimistic” in her speech on the economy and monetary policy. She expects that further gradual increases in the federal funds target rate will be warranted, but she also stressed a number of near-term uncertainties.
This week, the mid-month economic data releases will be important, especially Tuesday’s retail sales figures, but the focus will be on the Fed.
Clarksville, TN – The economic data reports were mixed, but mostly on the soft side of expectations. The ISM Manufacturing Index surprised (modestly) to the upside, boosted by a lengthening in supplier delivery times (anecdotally, many firms had trimmed inventories in anticipation of softer demand, but sales surprised and they are now scrambling a bit to restock).
The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index slid. Unit auto sales were strong, but were supported by an increase in fleet sales (rental cars, etc.). The ADP estimate of private-sector payrolls was moderate strong, with continued hiring at small and medium-sized firms.
Clarksville, TN – The economic calendar was thin. Jobless claims fell more than expected (not too unusual), while the four-week average remained very low (about as low as it can go given the normal labor market frictions). Small business optimism fell in February. The Quarterly Services Survey pointed to an upward revision to the estimate of consumer spending growth for 4Q15.
The European Central Bank surprised the markets by doing much more than expected (lowering interest rates, expanding QE, and making other efforts to boost growth).
Clarksville, TN – Nonfarm payrolls rose more than expected in February, while figures for the two previous months were revised higher. At 228,000, the three-month average has remained strong. The unemployment rate held steady at 4.9%, but labor force participation continued to pick up and the employment/population ratio is trending higher.
Hours fell, likely reflecting bad weather (weakness in hours was concentrated in mining, which includes energy exploration, and construction). Average hourly earnings fell 0.1% (following a 0.5% rise in January), bringing the year-over-year gain down to 2.2% (from 2.5%), but the three-month average was up nearly 2.5% y/y.
Clarksville, TN – The economic data were mixed. The ISM Manufacturing Index remained below the break even level in January, with a pickup in new orders and a softening in employment.
The ISM’s Non-Manufacturing Index slowed more than anticipated. The January Employment Report seemed to have something for everybody. Nonfarm payrolls rose less than forecast.
However, the unemployment rate edged lower, hours moved higher and average hourly earnings advanced – all likely to catch the attention of Fed policymakers.
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