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Economy

Economic Data (USA)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) for May 2017

The Consumer Confidence Index® (CCI) for this month (May 2017) was released by The Conference Board® this morning:

Predicted: 119.0
Actual: 117.9

The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

From Today's Report:

"...'Consumer confidence decreased slightly in May, following a moderate decline in April,' said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. 'However, consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions held steady, suggesting little change in overall economic conditions. Looking ahead, consumers were somewhat less upbeat than in April, but overall remain optimistic that the economy will continue expanding into the summer months.'

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions held steady in May. Those saying business conditions are 'good' edged down from 30.8 percent to 29.4 percent, but those saying business conditions are 'bad' was unchanged at 13.7 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market also remained positive. Those stating jobs are 'plentiful' declined marginally from 30.3 percent to 29.9 percent, however, those claiming jobs are 'hard to get' decreased from 19.4 percent to 18.2 percent.

Consumers were less optimistic about the short-term outlook in May. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased from 25.1 percent to 21.3 percent, however, those expecting business conditions to worsen declined marginally from 10.4 percent to 10.1 percent.

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was mixed. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead declined from 21.9 percent to 18.6 percent, but those anticipating fewer jobs decreased from 13.8 percent to 12.0 percent. The percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to increase edged up from 18.7 percent to 19.2 percent, but the proportion expecting a decrease also rose, from 7.6 percent to 8.7 percent..."

Every month, The Conference Board sends a questionnaire to 5,000 U.S. households. Survey participants are polled about their feelings regarding the U.S. economy, current and future, and about their own fiscal circumstances. On average, 3,500 participants complete and return the 5-question survey.

The baseline "100" score for the CCI is associated with 1985 survey data.

When consumers feel good about the economy, they tend to do more spending, and vice versa.

Based in New York City, The Conference Board is a private, not-for-profit organization with a mission to, "create and disseminate knowledge about management and the marketplace to help businesses strengthen their performance and better serve society."

The CCI is usually released on the last Tuesday of the month.

Last month, the CCI was 119.4 (revised.)


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PCE Price Index + Personal Income + Consumer Spending Report for April 2017

Earlier today, the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released its report on The PCE Price Index, Consumer Spending and Personal Income for April 2017:

Consumer Spending (Personal Consumption Expenditures)
Predicted: +0.4%
Actual: +0.4%

----------------------

Personal Income
Predicted: +0.4%
Actual: +0.4%


The highlighted percentages represent the month-to-month change in Consumer Spending (aka Personal Consumption Expenditures) and Personal Income for the entire United States.

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=====================

Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Price Index
Predicted: +0.2%
Actual: +0.2%

  • Change from 12 months previous: +1.7%
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Core PCE Price Index
( = PCE Price Index minus food and energy)
Predicted: +0.1%
Actual: +0.2%

  • Change from 12 months previous: +1.5%
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The yellow-highlighted percentages represent the month-to-month change in the prices associated with domestic personal consumption.  The PCE Price Index is different from the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in that it is a very broad measure of the prices associated with domestic products and services, while the CPI measures a more limited fixed basket of goods and services.

The broad nature of the PCE Price Index is key to why it is the Federal Reserve's preferred measure of inflation.  The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) pays very close attention to it.

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The "predicted" figures are what economists were expecting, while the "actual" figures are the true or real figure.


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    Friday, May 26, 2017

    Durable Goods Orders During April 2017

    The Durable Goods Orders report for April 2017 was released by the Commerce Department this morning:

    Predicted: -1.0%
    Actual: -0.7%

    ================

    • Previous month, revised: +2.3%

    • Change from 12 months previous: +0.9%
    ================

    The yellow-highlighted figure represents the month-to-month change in orders for durable or hard goods for immediate or future delivery from U.S. manufacturers. Examples of durable goods: cars, airplanes, computers, furniture -- items that are built to last at least three years.

    The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure. The Durable Goods Orders report is produced by the Commerce Department.

    Click here to view the full Commerce Department report (PDF).


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    Consumer Sentiment: Final Result for May 2017

    The University of Michigan's Index of Consumer Sentiment (ICS) - Final Result for May 2017 was released today:

    Predicted: 98.0
    Actual: 97.1

    • Change from Last Month: +0.1031%
    • Change from 12 Months Ago: +2.5343%

    =========

    From today's report:

    "...Consumer sentiment has continued to move along the high plateau established following Trump's election. The final May figure was virtually unchanged from either earlier in May or the April reading. Indeed, the May figure was nearly identical with the December to May average of 97.3. Moreover, the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans has also remained largely unchanged, with the first expecting a recession and the other more robust economic growth. How long will economic expectations be dominated by partisanship? Unlike differences in expectations across age, education, or income groups, which usually reflect actual differences in prospects for employment and income expectations, for example, partisanship is reflected by economic policy preferences. Since no major policies, such as healthcare, taxes, or infrastructure spending have yet been adopted, the partisan divide may reflect differences in policy preferences expressed as expected economic outcomes. Thus, the extreme partisan divide may persist until passage is deemed either inevitable or impossible. While extremes may well narrow, it is unlikely that the impact of partisanship on economic expectations will disappear. Despite the expected bounce back in spending in the current quarter, personal consumption is expected to advance by 2.3% in 2017, although this is based on averages across the political divide, which has never been as extreme as it is currently..."

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    The ICS is derived from the following five survey questions:

    1. "We are interested in how people are getting along financially these days. Would you say that you (and your family living there) are better off or worse off financially than you were a year ago?"


    2. "Now looking ahead, do you think that a year from now you (and your family living there) will be better off financially, or worse off, or just about the same as now?"


    3. "Now turning to business conditions in the country as a whole, do you think that during the next twelve months we'll have good times financially, or bad times, or what?"


    4. "Looking ahead, which would you say is more likely: that in the country as a whole we'll have continuous good times during the next five years or so, or that we will have periods of widespread unemployment or depression, or what?"


    5. "About the big things people buy for their homes, such as furniture, a refrigerator, stove, television, and things like that. Generally speaking, do you think now is a good or bad time for people to buy major household items?"

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    The ICS uses a 1966 baseline, i.e. for 1966, the ICS = 100. So any number that is below the 1966 baseline of 100 means that the folks who were polled recently aren't as optimistic about the U.S. economy as the sample that was polled back in 1966.

    The ICS is similar to the Consumer Confidence Index in that they both measure consumer attitudes and offer valuable insight into consumer spending.

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    The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

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    Last month's final ICS reading was 97.0.


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      Gross Domestic Product (GDP): Second Estimate for Q1, 2017

      U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) "preliminary" (second estimate) report for the first quarter of 2017 was released this morning by the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA):

      Predicted: +0.8%
      Actual: +1.2%

      The highlighted percentage represents the quarter-to-quarter change in the Gross Domestic Product for the United States (preliminary = second estimate.)  The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the actual or real figure.

      ============

      Corporate Profits (Preliminary Estimate, First Quarter 2017)

      Profits from current production (corporate profits with inventory valuation adjustment and capital consumption adjustment) decreased $40.3 billion in the first quarter, in contrast to an increase of $11.2 billion in the fourth quarter.

      Profits of domestic financial corporations decreased $28.4 billion in the first quarter, in contrast to an increase of $26.5 billion in the fourth quarter. Profits of domestic nonfinancial corporations decreased $18.4 billion, compared with a decrease of $60.4 billion. The rest-of-the-world component of profits increased $6.5 billion, compared with an increase of $45.1 billion. This measure is calculated as the difference between receipts from the rest of the world and payments to the rest of the world. In the first quarter, receipts increased $11.8 billion, and payments increased $5.3 billion.

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      GDP, First Quarter 2017, Preliminary (Second Estimate)
      GDP, First Quarter 2017, Preliminary (Second Estimate)

      ============

      • On June 29, 2017, a "final" GDP estimate will be released by the BEA, which will contain the most accurate and authoritative data for the first quarter of  2017.

      The GDP is a very broad measure of economic activity for the entire United States, covering all sectors of the economy. The Commerce Department defines real GDP as, "the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States."


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      Thursday, May 25, 2017

      New Unemployment Insurance Claims for The Week of May 20, 2017

      Earlier today, the Labor Department released its weekly report on New Jobless Insurance Claims for the week that ended on May 20, 2017:

      Predicted: 237,000
      Actual: 234,000

      The yellow-highlighted figure represents the number of first-time claims for unemployment benefits for the entire United States. The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

      • Previous Week (revised): 233,000
      • 4-Week Moving Average: 235,250
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      Wednesday, May 24, 2017

      Existing Home Sales During April 2017

      The Existing Home Sales report for April 2017 was released by The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) this morning:

      Predicted: 5,650,000
      Actual: 5,570,000

      •  Change from Previous Month: -2.3%
      •  Change from One Year Previous: +1.6%
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      Inventory: 1,930,000 (4.2 months supply)

      ==========

      The yellow-highlighted, "actual" figure above represents the preliminary, seasonally adjusted annualized sales count of existing homes, co-ops and condominiums for last month. The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

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      Median Price for A Used Home During April 2017: $244,800
      Change from One Year Previous: +6.0%

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      Average Price for A Used Home During April 2017: $287,500
      Change from One Year Previous: +5.1%

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      Cost of A Used (Preowned) Home in The USA - April 2017
      Cost of A Used (Preowned) Home in The USA - April 2017

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      • The monthly Existing Home Sales report is released on or around the 25TH day of each month.

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      Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of May 19, 2017

      The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on May 19, 2017 was released this morning:

      Weekly Change: -4,400,000 Barrels

      Yearly Change: +10,800,000 Barrels

      Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 516,300,000 Barrels

      Diminishing crude oil inventories often translate to higher crude oil prices (and vice versa), but not always.

      The report is produced by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

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      Tuesday, May 23, 2017

      New Home Sales During April 2017

      The April 2017 New Home Sales report was released by the Commerce Department this morning:

      Predicted: 602,000
      Actual New Home Sales: 569,000

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      Change from One Month Previous: -11.4%

      Change from One Year Previous: +0.5%

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      Median Price for a New Home during April: $309,200

      Average Price for a New Home during April: $368,300


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      Chart: Cost of A Newly Built Home, USA - April 2017
      Chart: Cost of A Newly Built Home, USA - April 2017

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      Compiled jointly by the U.S. Commerce Department and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the yellow-highlighted figure above is the seasonally adjusted and annualized number of newly-built homes with committed buyers for the indicated month.

      The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

      The New Home Sales report is watched by economists and investors because it offers insight into the state of the U.S. housing market, and also provides data that can be used to predict sales of large household furniture and appliances like refrigerators, air conditioners, microwave ovens, etc.


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      Monday, May 22, 2017

      Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) for April 2017

      Earlier today, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago released its National Activity Index (CFNAI) for April 2017:

      Predicted: +0.10
      Actual (CFNAI): +0.49

      The CFNAI is a weighted average of 85 indicators of growth in national economic activity drawn from four broad categories of data:

      • Production and income;
      • Employment, unemployment, and hours;
      • Personal consumption and housing; and
      • Sales, orders, and inventories.

      The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the yellow-highlighted figure is what was reported.

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      • Previous Month (revised): +0.07
      • 3-Month Moving Average (CFNAI-MA3): +0.23
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      Chicago Fed National Activity Index for April 2017
      Chart: Chicago Fed National Activity Index for April 2017

      ========

      From Today's Report


      "...Index points to increased economic growth in April.

      Led by improvements in production-related indicators, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) rose to +0.49 in April from +0.07 in March. Two of the four broad categories of indicators that make up the index increased from March, and only one category made a negative contribution to the index in April. The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, increased to +0.23 in April from a neutral reading in March.

      The CFNAI Diffusion Index, which is also a three-month moving average, moved to +0.16 in April from +0.06 in March. Forty-six of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the CFNAI in April, while 39 made negative contributions. Forty indicators improved from March to April, while 44 indicators deteriorated and one was unchanged. Of the indicators that improved, nine made negative contributions..."
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      Understanding The CFNAI:

      A zero value for the monthly index has been associated with the national economy expanding at its historical trend (average) rate of growth; negative values with below-average growth (in standard deviation units); and positive values with above-average growth.

      Periods of economic expansion have historically been associated with values of the CFNAI-MA3 above -0.70 and the CFNAI Diffusion Index above -0.35. Conversely, periods of economic contraction have historically been associated with values of the CFNAI-MA3 below -0.70 and the CFNAI Diffusion Index below -0.35.

      An increasing likelihood of a period of sustained increasing inflation has historically been associated with values of the CFNAI-MA3 above +0.70 more than two years into an economic expansion. Similarly, a substantial likelihood of a period of sustained increasing inflation has historically been associated with values of the CFNAI-MA3 above +1.00 more than two years into an economic expansion.

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      Thursday, May 18, 2017

      Leading Economic Index for April 2017

      The Conference Board® released its Leading Economic Index® (LEI) for April 2017 this morning:

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      Index for April: 126.9 (The baseline 100 score is associated with 2010 data.)

      Predicted: +0.3
      Actual: +0.3%

      • Previous Month: +0.3 (revised.)

      • Two Months Previous: +0.5

      ==============

      The yellow-highlighted percentage represents the month-to-month change for the index.  The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

      The LEI is a composite of 10 of the nation's economic data releases that's put together by The Conference Board. Statistically, the components listed below have shown a significant increase or decrease before national economic upturns or downturns:

      1. The Standard + Poor's 500 Index

      2. Average weekly claims for unemployment insurance

      3. Building permits for new private housing

      4. The interest rate spread between the yield on the benchmark 10-Year Treasury Note and Federal Funds

      5. ISM® Index of New Orders

      6. Manufacturer's new orders for consumer goods or materials

      7. Manufacturers' new orders, nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders

      8. Average weekly manufacturing hours

      9. Average consumer expectations for business conditions

      10. Leading Credit Index™

      ==============

      Leading Economic Index (LEI) for April 2017
      Leading Economic Index (LEI) for April 2017

      ==============

      From Today's Report:

      "...'The recent trend in the U.S. LEI, led by the positive outlook of consumers and financial markets, continues to point to a growing economy, perhaps even a cyclical pickup,' said Ataman Ozyildirim, Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research at The Conference Board. 'First quarter’s weak GDP growth is likely a temporary hiccup as the economy returns to its long-term trend of about 2 percent. While the majority of leading indicators have been contributing positively in recent months, housing permits followed by average workweek in manufacturing have been the sources of weakness among the U.S. LEI components.'..."


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        New Unemployment Insurance Claims for The Week of May 13, 2017

        Earlier today, the Labor Department released its weekly report on New Jobless Insurance Claims for the week that ended on May 13, 2017:

        Predicted: 240,000
        Actual: 232,000

        The yellow-highlighted figure represents the number of first-time claims for unemployment benefits for the entire United States. The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

        • Previous Week (unrevised): 236,000
        • 4-Week Moving Average: 240,750
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        Wednesday, May 17, 2017

        Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of May 12, 2017

        The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on May 12, 2017 was released this morning:

        Weekly Change: -1,800,000 Barrels

        Yearly Change: +11,000,000 Barrels

        Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 520,800,000 Barrels

        Diminishing crude oil inventories often translate to higher crude oil prices (and vice versa), but not always.

        The report is produced by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

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        Tuesday, May 16, 2017

        Industrial Production + Manufacturing + Capacity Utilization for April 2017

        The Industrial Production, Manufacturing and Capacity Utilization numbers for April 2017 were released by the Federal Reserve this morning:

        Industrial Production:
        Predicted: +0.4%
        Actual: +1.0%

        Manufacturing:
        Predicted: +0.3%
        Actual: +1.0%

        The yellow-highlighted percentages represent the month-to-month change in manufacturing, and physical output from mining operations, utility plants and factories for the entire United States.

        Capacity Utilization Rate:
        Predicted: 76.3%
        Actual: 76.7

        The Capacity Utilization Rate represents the use of available resources at mining operations, utility plants and factories for the entire United States last month.

        The "predicted" figures are what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

         

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        Housing Starts During April 2017

        The U.S. Commerce Department this morning released its Housing Starts report for April 2017:

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        Housing Starts:
        Predicted: 1,256,000
        Actual: 1,172,000

        Change From Previous Month: -2.6%
        Change From One Year Previous: +0.7%

        ---------------------------------------------------

        Building Permits:
        Predicted: 1,271,000
        Actual: 1,229,000

        Change From Previous Month: -2.5%
        Change From One Year Previous: +5.7%

        ----------------------------------------------------

        Housing Starts: The top, yellow-highlighted figure is a measure of initial construction of single and multi-family residential units in the United States for the indicated month. The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

        If you're wondering about the demand for new homes in the United States,or about the American construction industry in general, then you should pay attention to the monthly Housing Starts report. This report also offers insight into specific types of consumer spending: when housing starts are up, demand for the stuff that a consumer would purchase for a new home (large appliances, consumer electronics, furniture, etc.) tends to also rise --  and vice versa.

        Click here to view the full Commerce Department report (PDF).

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        Friday, May 12, 2017

        U.S. Retail And Food Services Sales Report for April 2017

        The Commerce Department this morning released advanced estimates of U.S. Retail and Food Services Sales for April 2017:

        Predicted: +0.6%
        Actual: +0.4%

        The yellow-highlighted percentage represents the month-to-month change in total sales receipts for retailers that sell durable and non-durable goods, and retailers that provide food and beverage services.

        =================

        Previous Month (revised): +0.1%

        Estimated Retail Sales During February: $474,900,000,000

        Change from 12 Months Previous: +4.5%

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        The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

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        Consumer Price Index (CPI) for April 2017

        Earlier this morning, the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for April 2017:

        =========================================

        Predicted: +0.2%
        Actual: +0.2%

        (Change from 12 months previous: +2.2%)

        =========================================

        Below is the CPI when food and energy are removed, also known as core CPI:

        Predicted: +0.2%
        Actual: +0.1%

        (Change from 12 months previous: +1.9%)

        =========================================

        The above, yellow-highlighted figures represent the seasonally adjusted, month-to-month change in prices for a specific group of goods and services that consumers buy, and is, therefore, a very important part of the overall inflation picture for the country.

        The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

        General categories that constitute the CPI are:

        • Healthcare
        • Housing
        • Clothing
        • Communications
        • Education
        • Transportation
        • Food and Beverages
        • Recreation
        • Miscellaneous Goods and Services (grooming expenses, etc.)
        Click here to view the full Labor Department report.


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        Thursday, May 11, 2017

        Producer Price Index - Final Demand (PPI-FD) for April 2017

        The Producer Price Index - Final Demand (PPI-FD) for April 2017 was released this morning:

        Predicted: +0.2%
        Actual: +0.5%

        Change from 12 months previous: +2.5%

        =============

        Below is the PPI-FD when food and energy are removed:

        Predicted: +0.2%
        Actual: +0.4%

        Change from 12 months previous: +1.9%

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        The above, yellow-highlighted percentages represent the month-to-month change in prices received by domestic producers of goods and services, for goods, services and construction in the United States, for final demand.

        Final Demand = personal consumption (consumers), exports, government purchases and capital investment.

        The PPI-FD is released by the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

        The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.



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        New Unemployment Insurance Claims for The Week of May 6, 2017

        Earlier today, the Labor Department released its weekly report on New Jobless Insurance Claims for the week that ended on May 6, 2017:

        Predicted: 244,000
        Actual: 236,000

        The yellow-highlighted figure represents the number of first-time claims for unemployment benefits for the entire United States. The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

        • Previous Week (unrevised): 238,000
        • 4-Week Moving Average: 243,500
        ========

        From today's report:

        "...The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.4 percent for the week ending April 29, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending April 29 was 1,918,000, a decrease of 61,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for insured unemployment since November 5, 1988 when it was 1,898,000. The previous week's level was revised up 15,000 from 1,964,000 to 1,979,000.

        The 4-week moving average was 1,965,500, a decrease of 27,500 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since February 2, 1974 when it was 1,964,250. The previous week's average was revised up by 3,750 from 1,989,250 to 1,993,000..."

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        Wednesday, May 10, 2017

        Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of May 5, 2017

        The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on May 5, 2017 was released this morning:

        Weekly Change: -5,200,000 Barrels

        Yearly Change: +14,000,000 Barrels

        Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 522,500,000 Barrels

        Diminishing crude oil inventories often translate to higher crude oil prices (and vice versa), but not always.

        The report is produced by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

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        Import and Export Price Indexes for April 2017

        The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning released its report on U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes for April 2017:

        Import Prices
        Predicted: +0.1%
        Actual: +0.5%

        Change From 12 Months Previous: +4.1%

        ===============

        Export Prices
        Predicted: +0.1%
        Actual: +0.2%

        Change From 12 Months Previous: +3.0%

        ===============
         
        The above percentages, highlighted in yellow, represent the month-to-month change in prices for:

        • Imports: the cost of goods produced in other countries and sold in the United States.
        • Exports: the cost of goods produced in the USA and sold in other countries.

        Together, these indexes offer insight into the status of inflation in the United States, and for the global economy as well. The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.


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        Tuesday, May 09, 2017

        Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) for March 2017

        The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) for March 2017 was released by the Labor Department this morning:

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        Job Openings

        Predicted: 5,725,000
        Actual:    5,743,000

        Previous Month, Revised: 5,682,000

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        Hires: 5,260,000

        Total Separations: 5,088,000

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        The above, yellow-highlighted percentage represents the estimated number of job openings in the United States during the indicated month.  The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

        Here's how the Labor Department defines Total Separations:

        "Total separations includes quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations. Total separations is referred to as turnover. Quits are generally voluntary separations initiated by the employee. Therefore, the quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs. Layoffs and discharges are involuntary separations initiated by the employer. Other separations includes separations due to retirement, death, disability, and transfers to other locations of the same firm."

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        NFIB Small Business Optimism Index for April 2017

        The National Federation of Independent Business® (NFIB®) released its Small Business Optimism Index for April 2017:

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        Predicted: 103.8
        Actual: 104.5

        • Change from Previous Month: -0.191%
        • Change from 12 Months Previous: +11.645%

        =========

        NFIB Small Business Optimism Index - April 2017
        NFIB Small Business Optimism Index - April 2017
        =========

        From today's report:

        "...The NFIB Index of Small Business Optimism posted another historically high reading in April, but expectations for future business conditions plunged by eight points, a sign that business owners were shaken by Congress’ failure at the end of March to repeal and replace Obamacare.

        'Small business owners were measurably shaken when Congress failed to address one of their most important concerns,' said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. 'Obamacare has crushed small businesses. Small business owners expected the White House and Congress to address that problem. Their failure to do so caused volatility in the Optimism Index.'

        The Index dipped 0.2 points April, settling at 104.5. April was the sixth straight month for historically high optimism, a hot streak not seen since 1983. Five of the Index components posted a gain, reaching levels not seen since before the previous administration. Three of the components declined, and two were unchanged. Nearly all of the slight decline was attributable to an 8-point plunge in expected business conditions. Most of the data were collected immediately after Congress failed to repeal and replace Obamacare.

        'Expected business conditions is the most volatile component of the Index,' said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. 'Small business owners want Congress and the White House to address the high cost of health care, which has been their top concern for more than 30 years. When that effort failed in March, expectations for better business conditions collapsed.'

        The House narrowly passed a bill last week to repeal most of Obamacare. Whether expectations for better business conditions will recover in the May Optimism Index remains to be seen.

        'Congress and the White House must understand that small business owners are paying close attention, and they are making decisions that affect the economy based on how Washington performs,' said Duggan. 'The drop in expected business conditions should be a warning to Washington that health care reform, regulatory reform, and tax reform have implications far bigger than politics.'

        Duggan noted that taxes jumped to the top of the list of concerns among small business owners in the April survey, with 21 percent listing it as their single most important problem.

        'That should be a clear indication for Congress and the White House to finish health care reform and move quickly to tax reform,' she said. 'The current tax code strongly favors large corporations over small businesses. Five of the top 10 concerns among small business owners are related to taxes. The tax system is a major burden for small businesses and an impediment to economic growth. Fixing that system must be an urgent priority for Congress and the White House..."

        =========

        • Small business survey questions can be found at the end of today's report.
        • The baseline "100" score is associated with 1986 survey data.
        =========

        The previous month's Small Business Optimism Index was 104.7.

        =========


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        Friday, May 05, 2017

        Employment Situation Report for April 2017

        The Employment Situation Report for April 2017 was released by The Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning:

        Nonfarm Payrolls (month-to-month change)
        Predicted: +185,000
        Actual: +211,000


        U-3 Unemployment Rate (Headline)
        Predicted: 4.6%
        Actual: 4.4%

        U-6 Unemployment Rate*
        Actual: 8.6%
        Previous Reading: 8.9%

        Average Hourly Earnings (month-to-month change)
        Predicted: +0.3%
        Actual: +0.268%

        Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate: 62.9%
        Previous Reading (revised): 63.0%

        Average Workweek
        Predicted: 34.4 hours
        Actual: 34.4 hours

        Economist, academics, central bankers and investors pay very close attention to the monthly Employment Situation report as it offers penetrating insight as to the current and near-future state of the overall U.S. economy. If a) Americans are earning more money and b) the economy is creating new jobs, this typically translates to more money being pumped into the economy (and vice versa.)

        The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

        From today's report:

        "...In April, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 7 cents to $26.19 [+0.268%]. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 65 cents, or 2.5%. In April, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 6 cents to $21.96 [+0.274%]..."

        "...
        The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for February was revised up from +219,000 to +232,000, and the change for March was revised down from +98,000 to +79,000. With these revisions, employment gains in February and March combined were 6,000 lower than previously reported. Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors. Over the past 3 months, job gains have averaged 174,000..." [Establishment Survey Data]
        ======

         * =  The U-6 Unemployment Rate is defined as:


        "Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force."


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        Thursday, May 04, 2017

        U.S. Factory Orders During March 2017

        The U.S. Census Bureau this morning released their report on Manufacturers' Shipments, Inventories and Orders -- also known as Factory Orders -- for March 2017:

        Predicted: +0.4%
        Actual: +0.2%

        The yellow-highlighted percentage is the month-to-month change in orders for both durable and nondurable goods made by from U.S. manufacturers. The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

        Previous Month (revised): +1.2%.

        Click here to view the full Census Bureau report.

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        New Unemployment Insurance Claims for The Week of April 29, 2017

        Earlier today, the Labor Department released its weekly report on New Jobless Insurance Claims for the week that ended on  April 29, 2017:

        Predicted: 246,000
        Actual: 238,000

        The yellow-highlighted figure represents the number of first-time claims for unemployment benefits for the entire United States. The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

        • Previous Week (unrevised): 257,000
        • 4-Week Moving Average: 243,000
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        Productivity and Labor Cost Report for Q1 2017 (Preliminary)

        The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) this morning released its quarterly report on Productivity and Unit Labor Costs for the first quarter of 2017 (preliminary):

        Nonfarm Productivity
        Predicted: 0.0%
        Actual: -0.6%

        Reading from Previous Quarter, Revised: +1.8%

        =============

        Unit Labor Costs
        Actual: +3.0%

        Reading from Previous Quarter, Revised: +1.3%

        =============

        The yellow-highlighted figures represent the quarter-to-quarter change in non-farm productivity and unit labor costs for the United States.

        =============

        Labor Productivity, Q1 2017 (Revised)
        Labor Productivity, Q1 2017

        =============

        Unit Labor Costs, Q1 2017
        Unit Labor Costs, Q1 2017

        =============


        For non-farm productivity, a positive number represents an improvement in the efficiency of producing domestic goods and services in the U.S., and therefore can signify a favorable inflationary outlook, and vice versa.

        The Unit Labor Costs report measures the costs related to producing each unit of output. A positive number can be a harbinger of rising inflation, and vice versa.

        The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

        Click here to view the full Labor Department report (PDF.)

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        Wednesday, May 03, 2017

        Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of April 28, 2017

        The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on April 28, 2017 was released this morning:

        Weekly Change: -900,000 Barrels

        Yearly Change: +15,700,000 Barrels

        Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 527,800,000 Barrels

        Diminishing crude oil inventories often translate to higher crude oil prices (and vice versa), but not always.

        The report is produced by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

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        ISM Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI®) for April 2017

        Earlier today, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM®) released their Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI®) for April 2017:

        Predicted: 55.8%
        Actual: 57.5%

        ==========

        The NMI is a reliable barometer of the U.S. services sector; above 50% implies expansion, while a reading below 50% implies that the services sector contracted.

        Service categories include: Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing + Hunting; Mining; Utilities; Construction; Wholesale Trade; Retail Trade; Transportation + Warehousing; Information; Finance + Insurance; Real Estate, Rental + Leasing; Professional, Scientific + Technical Services; Management of Companies + Support Services; Educational Services; Health Care + Social Assistance; Arts, Entertainment + Recreation; Accommodation + Food Services; Public Administration; and Other Services (services such as Equipment + Machinery Repairing; Promoting or Administering Religious Activities; Grantmaking; Advocacy; and Providing Dry-Cleaning + Laundry Services, Personal Care Services, Death Care Services, Pet Care Services, Photofinishing Services, Temporary Parking Services, and Dating Services).

        ==========

        The previous month's NMI reading was 55.2%.

        ==========

        Here's a sampling of comments from survey participants:

        •     "Business level increasing. More project inquiries are being received."
           (Construction)

        •     "Beginning of Q2, business is profitable, maybe a bit slower than anticipated. Opportunity still positive."
           (Finance and Insurance)

        •     "Stable activity. Waiting on health care reform and its impact on our organization."
           (Health Care and Social Assistance)

        •     "Ongoing rain in Northern California is degrading the quality and increasing the prices of some vegetables, such as iceberg lettuce, broccoli, napa cabbage, and some varieties of romaine."
           (Accommodation and Food Services)

        •     "[Overall] positive outlook for Q2, Q3, and Q4 [in] 2017."
           (Retail Trade)

        •     "Optimistic business outlook, but cautious in light of [the] geopolitical instability with North Korea."
           (Management of Companies and Support Services)

        •     "First three months of 2017, sales have exceeded each of [the first] three months of 2016."
           (Wholesale Trade)

        Click here to view the complete ISM report


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        Monday, May 01, 2017

        Construction Spending During March 2017

        Earlier today, the U.S. Census Bureau -- which is part of the Commerce Department -- released its Construction Spending report for March 2017:

        Predicted: +0.5%
        Actual: -0.2%

        The yellow-highlighted percentage represents the month-to-month change in new public and private construction activity for the United States. The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

        • Previous Month (revised): +1.8%.
        • Change from 12 months previous: +3.6%.

        Click here to view the full Census Bureau report

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        ISM Manufacturing Index for April 2017

        Earlier today, the Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®) released their Manufacturing Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI®) for April 2017:

        Predicted: 56.5%
        Actual: 54.8%

        Every month, the ISM surveys purchasing and supply executives at hundreds of companies across the country who are involved in manufacturing in some form. The resulting index is watched closely by academics, economists and investors because manufacturing accounts for about 12% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

        The PMI is a reliable barometer of U.S. manufacturing: A PMI above 50% implies that U.S. manufacturing expanded during the month specified, while a reading below 50% implies that the made-in-the-USA sector contracted.

        The previous month's PMI reading was 57.2%.

        The following is a sampling of quotes from a diverse pool of U.S. manufacturers:



        •      "For [the] first time in a long time, revenue was up in Q1 year-over-year. Our customers' businesses are starting to show sustained health."
           (Apparel, Leather and Allied Products)

        •     "Seeing increased orders and new projects."
           (Chemical Products)

        •     "Bookings are slow; however, we did receive a very large government order."
           (Computer and Electronic Products)

        •     "Business is definitely improving. Profit margins are increasing."
           (Fabricated Metal Products)

        •     "Ongoing market strength. While world/political headlines cause personal anxiety, business conditions remain solid."
           (Miscellaneous Manufacturing)

        •     "The poultry market continues to be stronger than anticipated."
           (Food, Beverage and Tobacco Products)

        •     "Continuing to source more raw materials locally and reduce exposure outside U.S."
           (Machinery)

        •     "Military and government spending is remaining strong. Commercial business has been flat to slightly down."
           (Transportation Equipment)

        •     "Our business and outlook are [strong]. We are seeing price increases from suppliers in many categories."
           (Plastics and Rubber Products)

        •     "Business is solid. Pricing pressures on commodities."
           (Furniture and Related Products)

        Click here to view the complete ISM report

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        PCE Price Index + Personal Income + Consumer Spending Report for March 2017

        Earlier today, the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released its report on The PCE Price Index, Consumer Spending and Personal Income for March 2017:

        Consumer Spending (Personal Consumption Expenditures)
        Predicted: +0.1%
        Actual: 0.0%

        ----------------------

        Personal Income
        Predicted: +0.3%
        Actual: +0.2%


        The highlighted percentages represent the month-to-month change in Consumer Spending (aka Personal Consumption Expenditures) and Personal Income for the entire United States.

        =====================
        =====================

        Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Price Index
        Predicted: -0.1%
        Actual: -0.2%

        • Change from 12 months previous: +1.8%
        =====================

        Core PCE Price Index
        ( = PCE Price Index minus food and energy)
        Predicted: 0.0%
        Actual: -0.1%

        • Change from 12 months previous: +1.6%
        =====================

        The yellow-highlighted percentages represent the month-to-month change in the prices associated with domestic personal consumption.  The PCE Price Index is different from the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in that it is a very broad measure of the prices associated with domestic products and services, while the CPI measures a more limited fixed basket of goods and services.

        The broad nature of the PCE Price Index is key to why it is the Federal Reserve's preferred measure of inflation.  The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) pays very close attention to it.

        =====================

        The "predicted" figures are what economists were expecting, while the "actual" figures are the true or real figure.


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