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Economy

Economic Data (USA)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Employment Cost Index for Q4, 2017

The Employment Cost Index (ECI) for the fourth quarter of 2017 was released by The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning:

Predicted: +0.6%
Actual: +0.6%

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  • Reading from previous quarter: +0.7%
     
  • Change from 12 months previous (Y/Y): +2.6%

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The yellow-highlighter figure represents the quarter-to-quarter change for the ECI, which is the Labor Department's broadest measure of employee-compensation costs, and includes wages, salaries and benefits.

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

  • Wages and Salaries: +0.5%

  • Benefits: +0.5%
==================


From the Labor Department website:


"...The Employment Cost Index (ECI) measures the change in the cost of labor, free from the influence of employment shifts among occupations and industries..."

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  • The ECI report for the first quarter of 2018 will be released on April 27, 2018.



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Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of January 26, 2018

The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on January 26, 2018 was released this morning:

-- Change from Last Week: +6,800,000 Barrels

-- Change from Last Year (Y/Y): -76,400,000 Barrels

-- Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 418,400,000 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, January 30, 2018

Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) for January 2018

The Consumer Confidence Index® (CCI) for this month (January 2018) was released by The Conference Board® this morning:

Predicted: 123.6
Actual: 125.4

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

Previous month, revised: 123.1

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

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

From Today's Report:

"...'Consumer confidence improved in January after declining in December,' said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. 'Consumers’ assessment of current conditions decreased slightly, but remains at historically strong levels. Expectations improved, though consumers were somewhat ambivalent about their income prospects over the coming months, perhaps the result of some uncertainty regarding the impact of the tax plan. Overall, however, consumers remain quite confident that the solid pace of growth seen in late 2017 will continue into 2018.'

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was slightly less positive in December. Consumers’ assessment of business conditions was mixed. The percentage saying business conditions are 'good' decreased slightly from 35.8 percent to 34.9 percent, while those saying business conditions are 'bad' increased slightly, from 11.7 percent to 12.7 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was also mixed. The percentage of consumers claiming jobs are 'plentiful' increased from 36.3 percent to 37.6 percent, while those claiming jobs are 'hard to get' increased marginally, from 16.0 percent to 16.4 percent.

Consumers’ optimism about the short-term outlook improved in January, following a sharp decline in December. The percentage of consumers anticipating business conditions to improve over the next six months increased marginally, from 21.6 percent to 22.0 percent, while those expecting business conditions to worsen increased from 9.0 percent to 9.8 percent.

Consumers’ outlook for the job market was also less negative. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead was virtually unchanged at 19.0 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs declined from 15.9 percent to 11.8 percent. Regarding their short-term income prospects, the percentage of consumers expecting an improvement decreased from 22.7 percent to 20.4 percent, while the proportion expecting a decrease also declined, from 9.0 percent to 7.7 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.

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Monday, January 29, 2018

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

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

Consumer Spending (Personal Consumption Expenditures)
Predicted: +0.5%
Actual: +0.4%

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

Personal Income
Predicted: +0.3%
Actual: +0.4%

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

Disposable Personal Income:  +0.3%

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

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


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

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

  • Change from 12 months previous: +1.7%
=====================

Core PCE Price Index
( = PCE Price Index minus food and energy)
Predicted: +0.2%
Actual: +0.2%

  • Change from 12 months previous: +1.5%
=====================

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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Friday, January 26, 2018

Durable Goods Orders During December 2017

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

Predicted: +0.6%
Actual: +2.9%

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

  • Previous month (revised): +1.7%

  • Change from 12 months previous: +11.5%
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Durable Goods Orders - December 2017
Durable Goods Orders - December 2017

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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.



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Gross Domestic Product (GDP): First Estimate for Q4, 2017

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

Predicted: +2.9%
Actual: +2.6%

The yellow-highlighted figure represents the quarter-to-quarter change in real gross domestic product for the entire United States.

The GDP is the broadest measure of economic activity in the entire United States, covering all sectors of the economy.

The "advance" estimate is based on data that are subject to future revision.

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

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - Q4 2017 - First Estimate
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - Q4 2017 - First Estimate

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

From Today's Report:

"...Real GDP increased 2.3 percent in 2017 (that is, from the 2016 annual level to the 2017 annual level), compared with an increase of 1.5 percent in 2016..."

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  • On February 28, 2018, the Commerce Department will release a "preliminary" GDP report for Q4 2017, which will contain a second estimate (more accurate data.)

  • On March 28, 2018, a "final" GDP report will be released by the BEA, which will contain the government's third and best estimate for Q4 2017.

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

New Home Sales During December 2017

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

Predicted: 680,000
Actual New Home Sales: 625,000

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Change from One Month Previous: -9.3%

Change from One Year Previous: +14.1%

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Median Price for a New Home during December: $335,400
 (
all-time record high)

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Average Price for a New Home during December: $398,900
 (
all-time record high)


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New Home Sales - December 2017
New Home Sales - December 2017

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From today's report:

...An estimated 608,000 new homes were sold in 2017. This is 8.3 percent (±4.1 percent) above the 2016 figure of 561,000...

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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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Leading Economic Index for December 2017

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

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Index for December: 107.0 (The baseline 100 score is associated with 2016 data§.)

Predicted: +0.5%
Actual: +0.6%

  • Previous Month: +0.5%

  • Two Months Previous: +1.3%

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

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) - December 2017
Leading Economic Index (LEI) - December 2017

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

From Today's Report:

"...Economic Growth to Continue Through First Half of 2018

...'The U.S. LEI continued rising rapidly in December, pointing to a continuation of strong economic growth in the first half of 2018. The passing of the tax plan is likely to provide even more tailwind to the current expansion,' said Ataman Ozyildirim, Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research at The Conference Board. 'The gains among the leading indicators have been widespread, with most of the strength concentrated in new orders in manufacturing, consumers’ outlook on the economy, improving stock markets and financial conditions'..."

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§ =  This month’s release incorporates annual benchmark revisions to the composite economic indexes, which bring them up-to-date with revisions in the source data. Also, with this benchmark revision, the base year of the composite indexes was changed to 2016 = 100 from 2010 = 100. These revisions do not change the cyclical properties of the indexes. The indexes are updated throughout the year, but only for the previous six months. Data revisions that fall outside of the moving six-month window are not incorporated until the benchmark revision is made and the entire histories of the indexes are recomputed. As a result, the revised indexes, in levels and month-on-month changes, will not be directly comparable to those issued prior to the benchmark revision.

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New Unemployment Insurance Claims for The Week of January 20, 2018

Earlier today, the Labor Department released its weekly report on New Jobless Insurance Claims for the week that ended on January 20, 2018:

Predicted: 240,000
Actual: 233,000

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): 216,000
  • 4-Week Moving Average: 240,000
========

From today's report:

"...The claims taking procedures in Puerto Rico and in the Virgin Islands have still not returned to normal..."

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Existing Home Sales During December 2017

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

Predicted: 5,750,000
Actual: 5,570,000

  •  Change from Previous Month: -3.6%
  •  Change from One Year Previous: +1.1%
==========

Inventory: 1,480,000 (3.2 months supply)

==========

The yellow-highlighted, "actual" figure above represents the preliminary, seasonally adjusted annualized sales count of existing homes, co-ops and condominiums for the indicated 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 December 2017: $246,800

Change from One Year Previous: +5.8%

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Average Price for A Used Home During December 2017: $288,200

Change from One Year Previous: +4.8%

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==========

From today's report:

"...Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the housing market performed remarkably well for the U.S. economy in 2017, with substantial wealth gains for homeowners and historically low distressed property sales. 'Existing sales concluded the year on a softer note, but they were guided higher these last 12 months by a multi-year streak of exceptional job growth, which ignited buyer demand,' said Yun. 'At the same time, market conditions were far from perfect. New listings struggled to keep up with what was sold very quickly, and buying became less affordable in a large swath of the country. These two factors ultimately muted what should have been a stronger sales pace.'

Added Yun, 'Closings scaled back in most areas last month for this same reason. Affordability pressures persisted, and the pool of interested buyers at the end of the year significantly outweighed what was available for sale.'

'The lack of supply over the past year has been eye-opening and is why, even with strong job creation pushing wages higher, home price gains – at 5.8 percent nationally in 2017 – doubled the pace of income growth and were even swifter in several markets,' said Yun.

First-time buyers were 32 percent of sales in December, which is up from 29 percent in November and unchanged from a year ago. NAR’s 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – released in late 20174 – revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 34 percent.

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate (link is external) for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage inched higher for the third straight month to 3.95 percent in December from 3.92 percent in November. The average commitment rate for all of 2017 was 3.99 percent.

'Rising wages and the expanding economy should lay the foundation for 2018 being the turning point towards an uptick in sales to first-time buyers,' said Yun. 'However, if inventory conditions fail to improve, higher mortgage rates and prices will further eat into affordability and prevent many renters from becoming homeowners.'

Properties typically stayed on the market for 40 days in December, which is unchanged from November and down from a year ago (52 days). Forty-four percent of homes sold in December were on the market for less than a month.

Realtor.com®’s Market Hotness Index, measuring time-on-the-market data and listings views per property, revealed that the hottest metro areas in December were San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.; Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Stockton-Lodi, Calif.

NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation Realtor® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty, says improving the new tax law is a top priority for Realtors® in 2018. 'Especially in high-cost, high-taxed markets, there’s still big concern that the overall structure of the final bill diminishes the tax benefits of homeownership in a way that would adversely affect home values and sales over time,' she said. 'As the housing market adjusts to the new law, Realtors® will be listening to their clients and communicating to lawmakers ways to ensure owning a home is truly incentivized in the tax code.'..."

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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 January 19, 2018

The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on January 19, 2018 was released this morning:

-- Change from Last Week: -1,100,000 Barrels

-- Change from Last Year (Y/Y): -76,700,000 Barrels

-- Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 411,600,000 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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Monday, January 22, 2018

Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) for December 2017

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago released its National Activity Index (CFNAI) for December 2017:

Predicted: +0.25
Actual (CFNAI): +0.27

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): +0.11
  • 3-Month Moving Average (CFNAI-MA3): +0.42
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Chart: Chicago Fed National Activity Index for December 2017
Chart: Chicago Fed National Activity Index for December 2017

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From Today's Report


"...Index points to a pickup in economic growth in December

Led by improvements in production-related indicators, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) moved up to +0.27 in December from +0.11 in November. Two of the four broad categories of indicators that make up the index increased from November, and three of the four categories made positive contributions to the index in December. The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, ticked down to +0.42 in December from +0.43 in November..."
========

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, January 18, 2018

    Housing Starts During December 2017

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

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

    Housing Starts:
    Predicted: 1,280,000
    Actual: 1,192,000

    Change From Previous Month: -8.2%
    Change From One Year Previous: -6.0%

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

    Building Permits:
    Predicted: 1,300,000
    Actual: 1,302,000

    Change From Previous Month: -0.1%
    Change From One Year Previous: +2.8%

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

    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.  Seasonally adjusted annual rate.  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.



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    New Unemployment Insurance Claims for The Week of January 13, 2018

    Earlier today, the Labor Department released its weekly report on New Jobless Insurance Claims for the week that ended on January 13, 2018:

    Predicted: 250,000
    Actual: 220,000

    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): 261,000
    • 4-Week Moving Average: 244,500
    ========

    From today's report:

    "...Claims taking procedures continue to be disrupted in the Virgin Islands. The claims-taking process in Puerto Rico has still not returned to normal..."

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    Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of January 12, 2018

    The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on January 12, 2018 was released this morning:

    -- Change from Last Week: -6,900,000 Barrels

    -- Change from Last Year (Y/Y): -72,800,000 Barrels

    -- Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 412,700,000 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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    Wednesday, January 17, 2018

    Industrial Production + Manufacturing + Capacity Utilization During December 2017

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

    Industrial Production:
    Predicted: +0.4%
    Actual: +0.9%

    Manufacturing:
    Predicted: +0.3%
    Actual: +0.1%

    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: 77.3%
    Actual: 77.9

    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.

    From today's report:

    "...Industrial production rose 0.9 percent in December even though manufacturing output only edged up 0.1 percent. Revisions to mining and utilities altered the pattern of growth for October and November, but the level of the overall index in November was little changed. For the fourth quarter as a whole, total industrial production jumped 8.2 percent at an annual rate after being held down in the third quarter by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. At 107.5 percent of its 2012 average, the index has increased 3.6 percent since December 2016 for its largest calendar-year gain since 2010.

    The gain in manufacturing output in December was its fourth consecutive monthly increase. The output of utilities advanced 5.6 percent for the month, while the index for mining moved up 1.6 percent. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector was 77.9 percent, a rate that is 2.0 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2016) average..."



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      Friday, January 12, 2018

      Consumer Price Index (CPI) for December 2017

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

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

      Predicted: +0.1%
      Actual: +0.1%

      (Change from 12 months previous: +2.1%)

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

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

      Predicted: +0.2%
      Actual: +0.3%

      (Change from 12 months previous: +1.8%)

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

      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.)



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

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

        Predicted: +0.3%
        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): +0.9%

        Estimated Retail Sales During December: $495,400,000,000

        Change from 12 Months Previous: +5.4%

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

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


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        Thursday, January 11, 2018

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

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

        Predicted: +0.2%
        Actual: -0.1%

        Change from 12 months previous: +2.6%

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

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

        Predicted: +0.2%
        Actual: -0.1%

        Change from 12 months previous: +2.3%

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

        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 January 6, 2018

        Earlier today, the Labor Department released its weekly report on New Jobless Insurance Claims for the week that ended on January 6, 2018:

        Predicted: 245,000
        Actual: 261,000

        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): 250,000
        • 4-Week Moving Average: 250,750
        ========

        From today's report:

        "...Claims taking procedures continue to be disrupted in the Virgin Islands. The claims-taking process in Puerto Rico has still not returned to normal..."

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        Wednesday, January 10, 2018

        Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of January 5, 2018

        The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on January 5, 2018 was released this morning:

        -- Change from Last Week: -4,900,000 Barrels

        -- Change from Last Year (Y/Y): -63,600,000 Barrels

        -- Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 419,500,000 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 December 2017

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

        Import Prices
        Predicted: +0.4%
        Actual: +0.1%

        Change From 12 Months Previous: +3.0%

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

        Export Prices
        Predicted: +0.3%
        Actual: -0.1%

        Change From 12 Months Previous: +2.6%

        ===============
         
        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, January 09, 2018

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

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

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

        Job Openings

        Predicted: 6,038,000
        Actual:    5,879,000

        • Previous Month (revised): 5,925,000

        • One Year Previous: 5,631,000

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

        Hires: 5,488,000

        Total Separations: 5,202,000

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

        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 December 2017

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

        =========

        Predicted: 107.9
        Actual: 104.9

        • Change from Previous Month: -2.4186%
        • Change from 12 Months Previous: -0.8507%

        =========

        The previous month's SBOI reading was 107.5.

        =========

        NFIB Small Business Optimism Index - December 2017
        NFIB Small Business Optimism Index - December 2017

        =========

        From today's report:


        "...Small business confidence blasted off the day after the 2016 election and remained in the stratosphere for all of 2017, making last year an all-time record setter for the NFIB Index of Small Business Optimism, released today.

        '2017 was the most remarkable year in the 45-year history of the NFIB Optimism Index,' said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. 'With a massive tax cut this year, accompanied by significant regulatory relief, we expect very strong growth, millions more jobs, and higher pay for Americans.'

        The Optimism Index for last month came in at 104.9, slightly lower than the near-record November report but still a historically exceptional performance. That makes 2017 the strongest year ever in the history of the survey. The average monthly Index for 2017 was 104.8. The previous record was 104.6, set in 2004.

        'We’ve been doing this research for nearly half a century, longer than anyone else, and I’ve never seen anything like 2017,' said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. 'The 2016 election was like a dam breaking. Small business owners were waiting for better policies from Washington, suddenly they got them, and the engine of the economy roared back to life.'

        Two of the December components posted gains, five declined, and three remained unchanged. Moving the Index moderately lower were declines in Expected Better Business Conditions (11-point decline) which tends to fluctuate sharply and Inventory Plans (8-point decline.) Small business owners were bedeviled by a labor shortage in 2017 that grew more intense as optimism rose. The NFIB Jobs Report last week showed that problem reaching record levels.

        Offsetting the dip in Expected Better Business Conditions was a dramatic,14-point improvement in Actual Sales for December. In November, a net negative five percent of all firms reported sales increases. A net nine percent reported higher sales in December, indicating a very strong holiday season for small business.

        'There’s a critical shortage of qualified workers and it’s becoming a real cost driver for small businesses,' said Dunkelberg. 'They are raising compensation for workers in order to attract and keep good employees, but that’s a positive indicator for the overall economy.'

        Driving record optimism in 2017 was the expectation of better economic policies from Washington. Suspending the regulatory assault on business and now a massive tax cut answered two of the three top concerns for small business owners, according to NFIB research.

        'The lesson of 2017 is that better policies make for better economic results,' said Duggan. 'The evidence is overwhelming that small business owners pay close attention to Washington, and that federal policies affect their decisions on whether to hire, whether to invest, whether to grow inventory, and whether to seek capital.'..."

         =========

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


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        Friday, January 05, 2018

        U.S. Factory Orders During November 2017

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

        Predicted: +1.1%
        Actual: +1.3%


        • November 2017 New Orders: $488,100,000,000


        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): +0.4% ($481,600,000,000.)

        ========

        U.S. Factory Orders During November 2017
        U.S. Factory Orders During November 2017

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

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

        Predicted: 57.6%
        Actual: 55.9%

        ==========

        Previous month: 57.4%

        ==========

        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).

        ==========

        From today' report:

        "...Economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in December for the 96th consecutive month, say the nation’s purchasing and supply executives in the latest Non-Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®..."

        ==========

        Here's a sampling of comments made by survey participants:

        •     "Many suppliers are proposing price increases, but few are being implemented. Increases in volume and efficiencies seem to be outperforming commodity pricing."
           (Accommodation and Food Services)

        •     "December is slowing, as is seasonally expected after a strong fall. Business in general is strong [and] within the normal pattern of seasonal fluctuation."
           (Management of Companies and Support Services)

        •     "Some improvement is jobs from the private sector."
           (Professional, Scientific and Technical Services)

        •     "Lumber prices are increasing due to product [being] damaged in the recent wildfires. Duties on steel from Vietnam is expected to cause an increase in steel prices. Ongoing shortages in construction related [to] labor continue to be a problem."
           (Construction)

        •     "Ending the year with profits and business levels on track. 2018 is projected to be as productive with an optimistic outlook."
           (Finance and Insurance)

        •     "IV solutions are still on national manufacturer back order. Hospital gauze back orders are also causing issues in the industry."
           (Health Care and Social Assistance)

        •     "We are seeing a resurgence in the business activity of our oil and gas customers, in a positive direction that is impacting our sales."
           (Other Services)

        •     "Steady end-of-year demand. Forecasting substantial increase in 2018 activity."
           (Public Administration)

        •     "Sales have slowed in food supply after last month’s buildup for the holidays."
           (Retail Trade)




        ISM Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI) History
        ISM Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI) History



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        Employment Situation Report for December 2017

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

        Nonfarm Payrolls (month-to-month change)
        Predicted: +191,000
        Actual: +148,000


        U-3 Unemployment Rate (Headline)
        Predicted: 4.1%
        Actual: 4.1%

        U-6 Unemployment Rate*
        Actual: 8.1%
        Previous Month: 8.0%

        Average Hourly Earnings (month-to-month change)
        Predicted: +0.3%
        Actual: +0.3391%

        Average Hourly Earnings (year-on-year change)
        Actual: +2.5019%

        Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate: 62.7%
        Previous Month: 62.7%

        Average Workweek
        Predicted: 34.5 hours
        Actual: 34.5 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 December, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 9 cents to $26.63 [+0.3391%]. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 65 cents, or 2.5019%. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 7 cents to $22.30 [+0.3149%] in December.

        The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for October was revised down from +244,000 to +211,000, and the change for November was revised up from +228,000 to +252,000. With these revisions, employment gains in October and November combined were 9,000 less than previously reported. (Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors.) After revisions, job gains have averaged
        204,000 over the last 3 months..." [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, January 04, 2018

        Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of December 29, 2017

        The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on December 29, 2017 was released this morning:

        -- Change from Last Week: -7,400,000 Barrels

        -- Change from Last Year: -54,500,000 Barrels

        -- Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 424,500,000 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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        Challenger Report on Corporate Layoffs for 2017

        Earlier today, the global outplacement consultancy firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, Inc. released its report on Corporate Layoffs for 2017:

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

        Job Cuts Announced During 2017: 418,770
        Job Cuts Announced During 2016: 526,915
        Change: -20.524%

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

        If corporate layoffs are high, consumer spending may decline, since there would be fewer people with steady jobs.

        When corporate layoffs are low, this can mean that the job market is relatively tight, which can be a harbinger of wage inflation.

        From today's report:

        "...U.S.-based employers announced 32,423 job cuts in the last month of the year, bringing the year-end total to 418,770. That is the lowest annual total since 1990, when 316,047 cuts were recorded, according to a report released Thursday by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

        'The retail pivot that caused thousands of store closures and job cuts was not seen in any other industry this year,' said John Challenger, Chief Executive Officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

        'While companies in the Pharmaceutical, Health Care, Construction, and Food industries did announce more job cuts than last year, it was nothing like the Energy cuts seen in the last two years or the Financial cuts seen during the recession,' added Challenger.

        Employers announced 20.5 percent fewer cuts than the previous year, when 526,915 cuts were announced. Last month saw a 7.4 percent decrease from November’s total of 35,038, and a 3.6 percent decrease from the 33,627 cuts announced in the same month last year.

        'The tight labor market, coupled with uncertainty surrounding health care and tax legislation, possibly kept employers from making any long-term staffing decisions this year. However, 2018 may see an increase in job cut announcements, as companies realign with consumer demand,' said Challenger.

        Retail’s restructuring led to 76,084 job cuts this year, a 28.2 percent increase from 2016, when 59,324 job cuts were announced. The move from brick-and-mortar to online shopping has caused over 7,400 store closures, according to Challenger tracking.

        The Health Care sector announced 40,732 job cuts, 118 percent more than last year’s annual total for the industry of 18,725. The Services sector announced 36,174 cuts this year, nearly quadrupling the total from last year, which was 9,917.

        Meanwhile, announced hiring plans are the highest on record, according to Challenger tracking. Employers announced plans to hire over 1,100,000 new hires, 27 percent more than the 868,702 announced last year.

        'While we may see more job cuts in the first quarter of 2018, some companies have announced wage increases and bonuses for employees due to the passing of the tax bill,' said Challenger..."



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        New Unemployment Insurance Claims for The Week of December 30, 2017

        Earlier today, the Labor Department released its weekly report on New Jobless Insurance Claims for the week that ended on December 30, 2017:

        Predicted: 240,000
        Actual: 250,000

        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): 247,000
        • 4-Week Moving Average: 241,750
        ========

        From today's report:

        "...Claims taking procedures continue to be disrupted in the Virgin Islands. The claims-taking process in Puerto Rico has still not returned to normal..."

        ========


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        Wednesday, January 03, 2018

        Construction Spending During November 2017

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

        Predicted: +0.6%
        Actual: +0.8%

        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): +0.9%.
           
        • Change from 12 months previous: +2.4%.

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

        Construction Spending During November 2017
        Construction Spending During November 2017

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




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        ISM Manufacturing Index for December 2017

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

        Predicted: 58.1%
        Actual: 59.7%

        =========

        Previous month: 58.2

        =========

        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.

        =========

        From Today's Report:

        "...Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in December, and the overall economy grew for the 103rd consecutive month, say the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM® Report on Business®..."
        =========

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



        •     "Our business is moving higher into the new year. Increased sales are resulting in increased purchases of CapEx and raw materials."
           (Chemical Products)

        •     "Strong international sales — Europe and Australia — versus last two years. U.S. sales continue to grow. Seeing commodity pricing pressures."
           (Machinery)

        •     "We are seeing a ramp-up with companies releasing early 2018 spend now."
           (Computer and Electronic Products)

        •     "Business conditions are good; we are tracking well to our projections for the year."
           (Miscellaneous Manufacturing)

        •     "First quarter 2018 probably will be better than the fourth quarter 2017."
           (Fabricated Metal Products)

        •     "Domestic and international sales on the rise."
           (Transportation Equipment)

        •     "Economy [is] strong and business is strong, yet signals of headwinds in 2018 are persistent."
           (Food, Beverage and Tobacco Products)

        •     "All suppliers are reporting strong business activity and difficulties obtaining qualified employees."
           (Paper Products)

        •     "Demand at this time is strong in the construction part of our business. I think it is due to the impact of the hurricanes and the rebuild and new construction that is required."
           (Plastics and Rubber Products)

        =========

        ISM Manufacturing Index History
        ISM Manufacturing Index History

        =========



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