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Economy

Economic Data (USA)

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

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

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

Predicted: +2.5%
Actual: +2.5%

The highlighted percentage represents the quarter-to-quarter change in the Gross Domestic Product for the United States (preliminary = second estimate.)

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GDP, Fourth Quarter of 2017, Preliminary (Second Estimate)
GDP, Fourth Quarter of 2017, Preliminary (Second Estimate)

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  • On March 28, 2018, a "final" GDP estimate will be released by the BEA, which will contain the most accurate and authoritative data for the fourth 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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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) for February 2018

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

Predicted: 126.4
Actual: 130.8

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Previous Month (revised): 124.3

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

From Today's Report:

"...'Consumer confidence improved to its highest level since 2000 (Nov. 2000, 132.6) after a modest increase in January,' said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. 'Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was more favorable this month, with the labor force the main driver. Despite the recent stock market volatility, consumers expressed greater optimism about short-term prospects for business and labor market conditions, as well as their financial prospects. Overall, consumers remain quite confident that the economy will continue expanding at a strong pace in the months ahead.'

Consumers’ appraisal of present-day conditions improved in February. Consumers’ assessment of business conditions was moderately more positive than in January. The percentage saying business conditions are 'good' increased slightly from 35.0 percent to 35.8 percent, while those saying business conditions are 'bad' decreased from 13.0 percent to 10.8 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was considerably more favorable. Those claiming jobs are 'plentiful' increased from 37.2 percent to 39.4 percent, while those claiming jobs are 'hard to get' decreased from 16.3 percent to 14.7 percent.

Consumers were also more optimistic about the short-term outlook in February. The percentage of consumers anticipating business conditions will improve over the next six months increased from 21.5 percent to 25.8 percent, while those expecting business conditions will worsen decreased from 9.8 percent to 9.4 percent.

Consumers’ outlook for the job market was also more positive. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased from 18.7 percent to 21.6 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs declined from 12.5 percent to 11.9 percent.  Regarding their short-term income prospects, the percentage of consumers expecting an improvement increased from 20.6 percent to 23.8 percent, however, the proportion expecting a decrease also rose, from 7.9 percent to 8.6 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, February 26, 2018

New Home Sales During January 2018

The January 2018 New Home Sales report was released by the Commerce Department this morning:

Predicted: 680,000
Actual New Home Sales: 593,000

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Change from One Month Previous: -7.8%

Change from One Year Previous: -1.0%

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Median Price for a New Home during January 2018: $323,000

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Average Price for a New Home during January 2018: $382,700


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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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Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) for January 2018

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago released its National Activity Index (CFNAI) for January 2018:

Predicted: +0.20
Actual (CFNAI): +0.12

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): +0.14
  • 3-Month Moving Average (CFNAI-MA3): +0.17
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Chart: Chicago Fed National Activity Index for January 2018
Chart: Chicago Fed National Activity Index for January 2018

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From Today's Report


"...Index Points To Little Change In Economic Growth In January

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) ticked down to +0.12 in January from +0.14 in December. Two of the four broad categories of indicators that make up the index decreased from December, and two of the four categories made negative contributions to the index in January. The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, decreased to +0.17 in January from +0.43 in December..."
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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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Friday, February 23, 2018

All 3 Major Stock Market Indexes Advanced On The Week

Summary of U.S. Markets for the Week Ending February 23, 2018:

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Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed @ 25,309.99:

- gained 347.51 points (+1.392%) on the day.
- gained 90.61 points (+0.359%) on the week.
- lost 1,306.72 points (-4.909%) since the January 26, 2018 record-high close (26,616.71.)

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S and P 500 Index: closed @ 2,747.30:

- gained 43.34 points (+1.603%) on the day.
- added 15.08 points (+0.552%) on the week.
- lost 125.57 points (-4.371%) since the January 26, 2018 record-high close (2,872.87.)

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NASDAQ Composite Index closed @ 7,337.39:

- added 127.31 points (+1.766%) on the day.
- gained 97.92 points (+1.353%) on the week.
- lost 168.38 points (-2.243%) since the January 26, 2018 record-high close (7,505.77.)

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- NYMEX Crude Oil for Future Delivery closed @ $63.55 per barrel

- Comex Gold for April delivery closed @ $1,330.30 per ounce

- In New York, the U.S. dollar buys 0.81321 euros

- In New York, the euro buys 1.2297 U.S. dollars

- The United States Prime Rate is 4.50%

- The Target Range for the Fed Funds Rate is 1.25% - 1.50%

- The yield on the 10-Year Treasury Note is currently @ 2.88%


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Standard and Poor's 500 Index Chart Through February 23, 2018
Standard and Poor's 500 Index Chart Through February 23, 2018

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of February 16, 2018

The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on February 16, 2018 was released this morning:

-- Change from Last Week: -1,600,000 Barrels

-- Change from Last Year (Y/Y): -98,200,000 Barrels

-- Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 420,500,000 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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Leading Economic Index for January 2018

The Conference Board® released its Leading Economic Index® (LEI) for January 2018 this morning:

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Index for January: 108.1 (The baseline 100 score is associated with 2016 data.)

Predicted: +0.6%
Actual: +1.028%

  • Previous Month: +0.6%

  • Two Months Previous: +0.4%

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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™

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Leading Economic Index (LEI) - January 2018
Leading Economic Index (LEI) - January 2018

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From Today's Report:

"...'The U.S. LEI accelerated further in January and continues to point to robust economic growth in the first half of 2018. While the recent stock market volatility will not be reflected in the U.S. LEI until next month, consumers’ and business’ outlook on the economy had been improving for several months and should not be greatly impacted,' said Ataman Ozyildirim, Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research at The Conference Board. 'The leading indicators reflect an economy with widespread strengths coming from financial conditions, manufacturing, residential construction, and labor markets.'..."

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New Unemployment Insurance Claims for The Week of February 17, 2018

Earlier today, the Labor Department released its weekly report on New Jobless Insurance Claims for the week that ended on February 17, 2018:

Predicted: 230,000
Actual: 222,000

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): 229,000
  • 4-Week Moving Average: 226,000
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From today's report:

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

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Existing Home Sales During January 2018

The Existing Home Sales report for January 2018 was released by The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) this morning:

Predicted: 5,650,000
Actual: 5,380,000

  •  Change from Previous Month: -3.2%
  •  Change from One Year Previous: -4.8%
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Inventory: 1,520,000 (3.4 months supply)

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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 January 2018: $240,500

Change from One Year Previous: +5.8%

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Average Price for A Used Home During January 2018: $282,100

Change from One Year Previous: +4.7%

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From today's report:

"...Existing-home sales slumped for the second consecutive month in January and experienced their largest decline on an annual basis in over three years, according to the National Association of Realtors®. All major regions saw monthly and annual sales declines last month.

...Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says January’s retreat in closings highlights the housing market’s glaring inventory shortage to start 2018. 'The utter lack of sufficient housing supply and its influence on higher home prices muted overall sales activity in much of the U.S. last month,' he said. 'While the good news is that Realtors® in most areas are saying buyer traffic is even stronger than the beginning of last year, sales failed to follow course and far lagged last January’s pace. It’s very clear that too many markets right now are becoming less affordable and desperately need more new listings to calm the speedy price growth.'
...'Another month of solid price gains underlines this ongoing trend of strong demand and weak supply. The underproduction of single-family homes over the last decade has played a predominant role in the current inventory crisis that is weighing on affordability,' said Yun. 'However, there’s hope that the tide is finally turning. There was a nice jump in new home construction in January and homebuilder confidence is high. These two factors will hopefully lay the foundation for the building industry to meaningfully ramp up production as this year progresses.'

First-time buyers were 29 percent of sales in January, which is down from 32 percent in December 2017 and 33 percent a year ago. NAR’s 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – released in late 2017 – 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 moved higher for the fourth straight month to 4.03 percent in January from 3.95 percent in December. The average commitment rate for all of 2017 was 3.99 percent.

'The gradual uptick in wages over the last few months is a promising development for the housing market, but there’s risk these income gains could be offset by the recent jump in mortgage rates,' said Yun. 'That is why the pace of added new and existing supply in the months ahead is worth monitoring. If inventory conditions can improve enough to cool the swift price growth in several markets, most prospective buyers should be able to absorb the higher borrowing costs.'

Properties typically stayed on the market for 42 days in January, which is up from 40 days in December 2017 but down from a year ago (50 days). Forty-three percent of homes sold in January were on the market for less than a month.

...NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation Realtor® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty, says Realtors® in several markets are reporting that the spring buying season appears to be starting early this year. 'Those planning to buy a home this spring should look into getting pre-approved for a mortgage now and start having those serious conversations with their real estate agent on what they’re looking for in a home and where they want to buy,' she said. 'With demand exceeding supply in most areas, competition will only heat up in the months ahead. Beginning the home search now could lead to a successful and less stressful buying experience.'

All-cash sales were 22 percent of transactions in January, which is up from 20 percent in December 2017 but down from 23 percent a year ago. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 17 percent of homes in January, up from 16 percent both last month and a year ago.

Distressed sales – foreclosures and short sales – were 5 percent of sales in January, unchanged from December 2017 and down from 7 percent a year ago. Four percent of January sales were foreclosures and 1 percent were short sales..."

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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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Friday, February 16, 2018

All 3 Major Stock Market Indices Rose On The Week

Summary of U.S. Markets for the Week Ending February 16, 2018:

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Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed @ 25,219.38:

- added 19.01 points (+0.0754%) on the day.
- gained 1,028.48 points (+4.252%) on the week.
- lost 1,397.33 points (-5.25%) since the January 26, 2018 record-high close (26,616.71.)

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S and P 500 Index: closed @ 2,732.22:

- gained 1.02 points (+0.0373%) on the day.
- added 112.67 points (+4.301%) on the week.
- lost 140.65 points (-4.896%) since the January 26, 2018 record-high close (2,872.87.)

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NASDAQ Composite Index closed @ 7,239.47:

- lost 16.96 points (-0.234%) on the day.
- gained 364.98 points (+5.309%) on the week.
- lost 266.30 points (-3.548%) since the January 26, 2018 record-high close (7,505.77.)

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NYMEX Crude Oil for Future Delivery closed @ $61.68 per barrel

Comex Gold for April Delivery closed @ $1,356.20 per ounce

In New York, the U.S. dollar buys 0.80593 euros

In New York, the euro buys 1.2408 U.S. dollars

The United States Prime Rate is 4.50%

The Target Range for the Fed Funds Rate is 1.25% - 1.50%

10-Year Treasury Note Yield is currently @ 2.87%


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Standard and Poor's 500 Index Chart
Standard and Poor's 500 Index Chart

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Import and Export Price Indexes for January 2018

The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning released its report on U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes for January 2018:

Import Prices
Predicted: +0.6%
Actual: +1.0%

Change From 12 Months Previous: +3.6%

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Export Prices
Predicted: +0.3%
Actual: +0.8%

Change From 12 Months Previous: +3.4%

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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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Housing Starts During January 2018

The U.S. Commerce Department this morning released its Housing Starts report for January 2018:

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Housing Starts:
Predicted: 1,232,000
Actual: 1,326,000

Change From Previous Month: +9.7%
Change From One Year Previous: +7.3%

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Building Permits:
Predicted: 1,300,000
Actual: 1,396,000

Change From Previous Month: +7.4%
Change From One Year Previous: +7.4%

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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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Housing Starts - January 2018
Housing Starts - January 2018

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Producer Price Index - Final Demand (PPI-FD) for January 2018

The Producer Price Index - Final Demand (PPI-FD) for January 2018 was released this morning:

Predicted: +0.4%
Actual: +0.4%

Change from 12 months previous: +2.7%

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

Predicted: +0.2%
Actual: +0.4%

Change from 12 months previous: +2.2%

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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 February 10, 2018

Earlier today, the Labor Department released its weekly report on New Jobless Insurance Claims for the week that ended on February 10, 2018:

Predicted: 229,000
Actual: 230,000

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): 223,000
  • 4-Week Moving Average: 228,500
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From today's report:

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

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Industrial Production + Manufacturing + Capacity Utilization During January 2018

The Industrial Production, Manufacturing and Capacity Utilization numbers for January 2018 were released by the Federal Reserve this morning:

Industrial Production:
Predicted: +0.2%
Actual: -0.1%

Manufacturing:
Predicted: +0.2%
Actual: 0.0%

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: 78.0%
Actual: 77.5

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 edged down 0.1 percent in January following four consecutive monthly increases. Manufacturing production was unchanged in January. Mining output fell 1.0 percent, with all of its major component industries recording declines, while the index for utilities moved up 0.6 percent. At 107.2 percent of its 2012 average, total industrial production was 3.7 percent higher in January than it was a year earlier. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector fell 0.2 percentage point in January to 77.5 percent, a rate that is 2.3 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2017) average..."




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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

U.S. Retail And Food Services Sales Report for January 2018

The Commerce Department this morning released advanced estimates of U.S. Retail and Food Services Sales for January 2018:

Predicted: +0.3%
Actual: -0.3%

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.

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-- Previous Month (revised): 0.0%

-- Estimated Retail Sales During January: $492,000,000,000

-- Change from 12 Months Previous: +3.6%

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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 January 2018

Earlier this morning, the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for January 2018:

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Predicted: +0.3%
Actual: +0.5%

(Change from 12 months previous: +2.1%)

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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%)

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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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Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of February 9, 2018

The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on February 9, 2018 was released this morning:

-- Change from Last Week: +1,800,000 Barrels

-- Change from Last Year (Y/Y): -96,000,000 Barrels

-- Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 422,100,000 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, February 13, 2018

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index for January 2018

The National Federation of Independent Business® (NFIB®) released its Small Business Optimism Index (SBOI) for January 2018:

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Predicted: 105.5
Actual: 106.9

  • Change from Previous Month: +1.9066% (+2.0 points)
  • Change from 12 Months Previous: +0.9443% (+1.0 point)

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The previous month's SBOI reading was 104.9.

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NFIB Small Business Optimism Index - January 2018
NFIB Small Business Optimism Index - January 2018

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Small Business Outlook - January 2018
Small Business Outlook - January 2018

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From today's report:


"...The Small Business Optimism Index jumped two points to 106.9 in January and set a record with the number of small business owners saying Now Is a Good Time to Expand, according to NFIB’s Small Business Economic Trends Survey, released today.

'Main Street is roaring,' said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. 'Small business owners are not only reporting better profits, but they’re also ready to grow and expand. The record level of enthusiasm for expansion follows a year of record-breaking optimism among small businesses.'

Now Is a Good Time to Expand registered at 32 percent, the highest level in the history of the NFIB survey, which began in 1973. Actual Earnings climbed up 11 points from December, the highest level reported since 1988. Plans to make Capital Outlays jumped up two points, and Plans to Increase Inventories gained four points.

'The historically high index readings over the last year tell us small business owners have never been more positive about the economy,' said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. 'This is in large response to the new management in Washington tackling the biggest concerns of small business owners – high taxes and regulations.'

As small business owners struggle to find qualified workers for open positions, reports of higher worker compensation rose four percentage points to a net 31 percent, the highest reading since 2000 and among the highest in the 45 years of NFIB’s survey. Plans to raise compensation also rose one point to a net 24 percent, the highest reading since 1989. 

'Finding qualified workers now exceeds taxes and regulations as the top concern for small businesses,' said Duggan..."

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  • 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, February 09, 2018

All 3 Major Stock Market Indices Retreated On The Week

Summary of U.S. Markets for the Week Ending February 9, 2018:

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Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed @ 24,190.90:

- added 330.44 points (+1.385%) on the day.

- lost 1,330.06 points (-5.212%) on the week.

- lost 2,425.81 points (-9.114%) since the January 26, 2018 record-high close (26,616.71.)

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S and P 500 Index: closed @ 2,619.55:

- added 38.55 points (+1.494%) on the day.

- lost 142.58 points (-5.162%) on the week.

- lost 253.32 points (-8.818%) since the January 26, 2018 record-high close (2,872.87.)

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NASDAQ Composite Index closed @ 6,874.49:

- gained 97.33 points (+1.436%) on the day.

- lost 366.46 points (-5.061%) on the week.

- lost 631.28 points (-8.411%) since the January 26, 2018 record-high close (7,505.77.)

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NYMEX Crude Oil for Future Delivery closed @ $59.20 per barrel

Comex Gold for April Delivery closed @ $1,315.70 per ounce

In New York, the U.S. dollar buys 0.81626 euros

In New York, the euro buys 1.2251 U.S. dollars

The United States Prime Rate is 4.50%

The Target Range for the Fed Funds Rate is 1.25% - 1.50%

10-Year Treasury Note Yield is currently @ 2.83%


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Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) Chart
Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) Chart

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Thursday, February 08, 2018

New Unemployment Insurance Claims for The Week of February 3, 2018

Earlier today, the Labor Department released its weekly report on New Jobless Insurance Claims for the week that ended on February 3, 2018:

Predicted: 235,000
Actual: 221,000

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): 230,000
  • 4-Week Moving Average: 224,500
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From today's report:

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

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Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of February 2, 2018

The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on February 2, 2018 was released this morning:

-- Change from Last Week: +1,900,000 Barrels

-- Change from Last Year (Y/Y): -88,300,000 Barrels

-- Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 420,300,000 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, February 06, 2018

International Trade Balance Level for December 2017

The International Trade Balance Level for December 2017 was released by The U.S. Commerce Department this morning:

Predicted: -$51,900,000,000
Actual: -$53,100,000,000

The "actual" figure above represents the balance of trade -- imports vs. exports -- between the United States and all other countries, and includes both goods and services. A negative number represents a trade deficit, while a positive number represents a trade surplus.

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

Previous Month (revised):  -$50,400,000,000

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International Trade Balance Level - December 2017
International Trade Balance Level - December 2017

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

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

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Job Openings

Predicted: 5,900,000
Actual:    5,811,000

  • Previous Month (revised): 5,978,000

  • One Year Previous: 5,539,000

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Hires: 5,488,000

Total Separations: 5,238,000

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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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Monday, February 05, 2018

ISM Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI®) for January 2018

Earlier today, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM®) released their Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI®) for January 2018:

Predicted: 56.2%
Actual: 59.9%

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Previous month (revised): 56.0%

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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).

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From today' report:

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

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

  •     "Executive management [is] excited about tax breaks for CapEx purchases in [the] new tax bill."
    (Information)

  •     "Month-over-month steady growth, on average, [is] 3 percent on project volume and 1 percent on total revenue."
    (Construction)

  •     "Signs of strong growth [in] financial performance expectations given the recent tax changes."
    (Finance and Insurance)

  •     "Positive outlook for 2018. We see huge pricing pressure."
    (Health Care and Social Assistance)

  •     "Business is starting off solid."
    (Accommodation and Food Services)

  •     "First quarter begins slow like 2017, but expect things to pick up later in Q1. Outlook continues to look bright for 2018."
    (Professional, Scientific and Technical Services)

  •     "Business activity is low due to the continued partial funding [of] bills passed (continuing resolutions)."
    (Public Administration)

  •     "Overall, sales velocity looks strong. Some regional differences due to weather conditions, but overall, a strong month."
    (Wholesale Trade)




ISM Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI) History - January 2018
ISM Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI) History

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Friday, February 02, 2018

U.S. Factory Orders During December 2017

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

Predicted: +1.5%
Actual: +1.7%


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  • December 2017 New Orders: $498,200,000,000.

  • Previous Month (revised): +1.7% ($489,700,000,000.)

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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.



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U.S. Factory Orders During December 2017
U.S. Factory Orders - December 2017

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Consumer Sentiment: Final Result for January 2018

The University of Michigan's Index of Consumer Sentiment (ICS) - Final Result for January 2018 was released today:

Predicted: 95.0
Actual: 95.7

  • Change from Last Month: -0.2086%
  • Change from 12 Months Ago: -2.8426%

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Previous month's final ICS reading: 95.9

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From today's report:


"...Consumer sentiment has remained largely unchanged for more than a year at very favorable levels. The January Sentiment figure was just 0.2 Index-points below December's, and just 1.1 points below the 2017 average of 96.8--which was the highest yearly average since 2000. Stock price increases and the passage of tax reforms were mentioned by all-time record numbers of consumers. To be sure, there were small offsetting declines among lower income households and residents of the Northeast. Consumers continued to expect growth in jobs and incomes, but anticipated a slightly higher inflation rate. Importantly, the motivating force behind purchase decisions has shifted from discounts on prices and interest rates to increased confidence in future job security and growth in wages as well as financial assets. This renewed sense of confidence was responsible for the recent declines in savings rates. The tax cuts will increase discretionary spending once higher energy bills due to the unusually cold weather are paid. Monetary policy will need to tighten in the year ahead, but given consumers' decade long experience with record low interest rates, only modest increases in interest rates will be sufficient to curb any excesses. Overall, the data signal an expected gain of 2.8% in real personal consumption expenditures during 2018..."

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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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Employment Situation Report for January 2018

The Employment Situation Report for January 2018 was released by The Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning:

Nonfarm Payrolls (month-to-month change)
Predicted: +175,000
Actual: +200,000


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

U-6 Unemployment Rate*
Actual: 8.2%
Previous Month: 8.1%

Average Hourly Earnings (month-to-month change)
Predicted: +0.3%
Actual: +0.3377%

Average Hourly Earnings (year-on-year change)
Predicted: +2.6%
Actual: +2.8857%

Average Weekly Earnings (year-on-year change)
Actual: +2.586%

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

Average Workweek
Predicted: 34.5 hours
Actual: 34.3 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 January, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 9 cents to $26.74 [+0.3377%], following an 11-cent gain in December. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 75 cents, or [2.8857%]. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 3 cents to $22.34 [+0.1345%] in January.


The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for November was revised down from +252,000 to +216,000, and the change for December was revised up from +148,000 to +160,000. With these revisions, employment gains in November and December combined were 24,000 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. The annual benchmark process also contributed to the November and December revisions.) After revisions, job gains have averaged
192,000 over the last 3 months..." [Establishment Survey Data]
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 * =  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, February 01, 2018

New Unemployment Insurance Claims for The Week of January 27, 2018

Earlier today, the Labor Department released its weekly report on New Jobless Insurance Claims for the week that ended on January 27, 2018:

Predicted: 235,000
Actual: 230,000

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): 231,000
  • 4-Week Moving Average: 234,500
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From today's report:

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

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