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Economy

Economic Data (USA)

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Consumer Sentiment: Final Result for March 2018

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

Predicted: 102.0
Actual: 101.4

  • Change from Previous Month: +1.7051% (+1.7 points)
  • Change from 12 Months Previous: +4.644% (+4.5 points)

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Previous Month's Final ICS Reading: 99.7

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From today's report:


"...Consumer sentiment at month's end was marginally below the mid-month reading due to uncertainty about the impact of the proposed trade tariffs. The Sentiment Index, however, still reached the highest level since 2004, and the Current Conditions Index set a new all-time peak. Importantly, all of the March gain in the Sentiment Index was among households with incomes in the bottom third (+14.1); those in the middle third were unchanged, while the Index fell among households in the top third (-5.6). Households with incomes in the top third cited significantly greater concerns with government economic policies than last month, especially trade policies, with net references falling from +31 to just +1, offsetting their positive reactions to tax policies.

The consensus expectation among consumers is that interest rates will increase in the foreseeable future. While consumers view the current level of interest rates as still relatively low, they understand that interest rate hikes are intended to dampen the future pace of economic growth. Their reaction will both emphasize borrowing-in-advance of those expected increases as well as heighten their precautionary savings motives. The trade-off between spending and saving will crucially depend on the pace of future interest rate hikes compared with the pace of income growth. It is likely that income growth will initially dominate, tilting consumers' motives more toward spending than saving.

Overall, the data are consistent with a growth rate of 2.6% in consumption from mid-2018 to mid-2019..."

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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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New Unemployment Insurance Claims for The Week of March 24, 2018

Earlier today, the Labor Department released its weekly report on New Jobless Insurance Claims for the week that ended on March 24, 2018:

Predicted: 228,000
Actual: 215,000

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): 227,000
  • 4-Week Moving Average: 224,500
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From today's report:

"In the week ending March 24, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 215,000, a decrease of 12,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since January 27, 1973 when it was 214,000..."

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

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PCE Price Index + Personal Income + Consumer Spending Report for February 2018

The Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released its report on The PCE Price Index, Consumer Spending and Personal Income for February 2018:

Consumer Spending (Personal Consumption Expenditures)
Predicted: +0.2%
Actual: +0.2%

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

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Disposable Personal Income:  +0.4%

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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.


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

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

  • Change from 12 months previous: +1.8%
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Core PCE Price Index
( = PCE Price Index minus food and energy)
Predicted: +0.2%
Actual: +0.2%

  • Change from 12 months previous: +1.6%
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The yellow-highlighted percentages represent the month-to-month change in the prices associated with domestic personal consumption.  The PCE Price Index is different from the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in that it is a very broad measure of the prices associated with domestic products and services, while the CPI measures a more limited fixed basket of goods and services.

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

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


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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of March 23, 2018

The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on March 23, 2018 was released this morning:

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

-- Change from Last Year (Y/Y): -104,000,000 Barrels

-- Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 429,900,000 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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Gross Domestic Product (GDP): Final Estimate for Q4, 2017

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

Predicted: +2.7%
Actual: +2.9%

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

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Corporate Profits

Profits from current production (corporate profits with inventory valuation adjustment and capital
consumption adjustment) decreased $1.1 billion in the fourth quarter, in contrast to an increase of
$90.2 billion in the third quarter.

Profits of domestic financial corporations decreased $14.6 billion in the fourth quarter, in contrast to
an increase of $47.8 billion in the third. Profits of domestic nonfinancial corporations increased $19.4
billion, compared with an increase of $10.4 billion. Rest-of-the-world  profits decreased $5.9 billion, in contrast to an increase of $32.0 billion. In the fourth quarter, receipts increased $14.9 billion, and
payments increased $20.8 billion.

In 2017, profits from current production increased $91.2 billion, in contrast to a decrease of $44.0
billion in 2016. Profits of domestic financial corporations increased $15.7 billion, in contrast to a
decrease of $2.0 billion. Profits of domestic nonfinancial corporations increased $37.4 billion, in contrast to a decrease of $51.7 billion. The rest-of-the-world component of profits increased $38.0 billion, compared with an increase of $9.8 billion..

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GDP, Fourth Quarter 2017, Final Estimate
GDP, Fourth Quarter 2017, Final Estimate

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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, March 27, 2018

Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) for March 2018

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

Predicted: 131.0
Actual: 127.7

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Previous Month (revised): 130.0

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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 declined moderately in March after reaching an 18-year high in February,' said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. 'Consumers’ assessment of current conditions declined slightly, with business conditions the primary reason for the moderation. Consumers’ short-term expectations also declined, including their outlook for the stock market, but overall expectations remain quite favorable. Despite the modest retreat in confidence, index levels remain historically high and suggest further strong growth in the months ahead.'

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions eased in March. The percentage saying business conditions are 'good' increased from 36.5 percent to 37.9 percent, however those claiming business conditions are 'bad' also increased, from 11.3 percent to 13.4 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was marginally more favorable. Those claiming jobs are 'plentiful' increased from 39.1 percent to 39.9 percent, while those claiming jobs are 'hard to get' decreased from 15.1 percent to 14.9 percent.

Consumers were moderately less optimistic about the short-term outlook in March. The percentage of consumers anticipating business conditions will improve over the next six months decreased from 25.0 percent to 23.0 percent, while those expecting business conditions will worsen increased from 9.4 percent to 9.8 percent.

Consumers’ outlook for the job market was also less positive. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead decreased from 22.4 percent to 19.1 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased from 12.4 percent to 12.6 percent. Regarding their short-term income prospects, the percentage of consumers expecting an improvement decreased from 23.5 percent to 22.0 percent, however, the proportion expecting a decrease also declined, from 8.6 percent to 7.2 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, March 26, 2018

Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) for February 2018

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

Predicted: +0.05
Actual (CFNAI): +0.88

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): +0.02
  • 3-Month Moving Average (CFNAI-MA3): +0.37
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Chart: Chicago Fed National Activity Index for February 2018
Chart: Chicago Fed National Activity Index for February 2018

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From Today's Report

"Index points to a pickup in economic growth in February
...Led by improvements in production-related indicators, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) rose to +0.88 in February from +0.02 in January. All four broad categories of indicators that make up the index increased from January, and three of the four categories made positive contributions to the index in February. The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, increased to +0.37 in February from +0.16 in January..."
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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, March 23, 2018

Sharp Declines For All 3 Major Stock Market Indexes On The Week

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

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Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed @ 23,533.20:

- lost 1,413.31 points (-5.665%) on the week.
- lost 3,083.51  points (-11.585%) since the January 26, 2018 record-high close (26,616.71.)

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S and P 500 Index closed @ 2,588.26:

- lost 163.75 points (-5.95%) on the week.
- lost 284.61 points (-9.907%) since the January 26, 2018 record-high close (2,872.87.)

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NASDAQ Composite Index closed @ 6,992.67:

- lost 489.32 points (-6.54%) on the week.
- lost 595.65 points (-7.85%) since the March 12, 2018 record-high close (7,588.32.)

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- NYMEX Crude Oil for Future Delivery closed @ $65.88 per barrel

- Comex Gold for April delivery closed @ $1,355.70 per ounce

- In New York, the U.S. dollar buys 0.80939 euros

- In New York, the euro buys 1.2355 U.S. dollars

- The United States Prime Rate is 4.75%

- The Target Range for the Fed Funds Rate is 1.50% - 1.75%

- The yield on the 10-Year Treasury Note is currently @ 2.82%


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

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New Home Sales During February 2018

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

Predicted: 620,000
Actual New Home Sales: 618,000

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Change from One Month Previous: -0.6%

Change from One Year Previous: +0.5%

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Median Price for a New Home during February 2018: $326,800

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Average Price for a New Home during February 2018: $376,700


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New Home Sales - February 2018
New Home Sales - February 2018
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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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Durable Goods Orders During February 2018

The Durable Goods Orders report for February 2018 was released by the Commerce Department this morning:

Predicted: +1.7%
Actual: +3.1%

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  • Previous month (revised): -3.5%

  • Change from 12 months previous: +8.9%
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Durable Goods Orders - February 2018
Durable Goods Orders - February 2018

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The yellow-highlighted figure represents the month-to-month change in new 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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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Leading Economic Index for February 2018

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

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Index for February: 108.7 (The baseline 100 score is associated with 2016 data.)

Predicted: +0.3%
Actual: +0.648%

  • Previous Month: 108.0 (+0.84%)

  • Two Months Previous: 107.1 (+0.658%)

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

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From Today's Report:

"...'The U.S. LEI rose again, despite a sharp downturn in stock markets and weakness in housing construction in February,' said Ataman Ozyildirim, Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research at The Conference Board. 'The LEI points to robust economic growth throughout 2018. Its six-month growth rate has not been this high since the first quarter of 2011. While the Federal Reserve is on track to continue raising its benchmark rate for the rest of the year, the recent weakness in residential construction and stock prices – important leading indicators - should be monitored closely.'..."

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

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

Predicted: 225,000
Actual: 229,000

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): 226,000
  • 4-Week Moving Average: 223,750
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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, March 21, 2018

Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of March 16, 2018

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

-- Change from Last Week: -2,600,000 Barrels

-- Change from Last Year (Y/Y): -104,800,000 Barrels

-- Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 428,300,000 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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Existing Home Sales During February 2018

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

Predicted: 5,420,000
Actual: 5,540,000

  •  Change from Previous Month: +3.0%
  •  Change from One Year Previous: +1.1%
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Inventory: 1,590,000 (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 February: $241,700

Change from One Year Previous: +5.9%

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Average Price for A Used Home During February: $281,200

Change from One Year Previous: +4.3%

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From today's report:

"...Despite consistently low inventory levels and faster price growth, existing-home sales bounced back in February after two straight months of declines, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Sizeable sales increases in the South and West offset declines in the Northeast and Midwest.

...Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says sales were uneven across the country in February but did increase nicely overall. 'A big jump in existing sales in the South and West last month helped the housing market recover from a two-month sales slump,' he said. 'The very healthy U.S. economy and labor market are creating a sizeable interest in buying a home in early 2018. However, even as seasonal inventory gains helped boost sales last month, home prices – especially in the West – shot up considerably. Affordability continues to be a pressing issue because new and existing housing supply is still severely subpar.'

Added Yun, 'The unseasonably cold weather to start the year muted pending sales in the Northeast and Midwest in January and ultimately led to their sales retreat last month. Looking ahead, several markets in the Northeast will likely see even more temporary disruptions from the large winter storms that have occurred in March.'

...According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage moved higher for the fifth straight month to 4.33 percent in February (highest since 4.34 percent in April 2014) from 4.03 percent in January. The average commitment rate for all of 2017 was 3.99 percent.

Properties typically stayed on the market for 37 days in February, which is down from 41 days in January and 45 days a year ago. Forty-six percent of homes sold in February were on the market for less than a month.

'Mortgage rates are at their highest level in nearly four years, at a time when home prices are still climbing at double the pace of wage growth,' said Yun. 'Homes for sale are going under contract a week faster than a year ago, which is quite remarkable given weakening affordability conditions and extremely tight supply. To fully satisfy demand, most markets right now need a substantial increase in new listings.'

...First-time buyers were 29 percent of sales in February, which is unchanged from last month and down from 31 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.

NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation Realtor® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty, says first-time buyers are seeing stiff competition for the available listings in their price range. 'Realtors® in several markets note that entry-level homes for first-timers are hard to come by, which is contributing to their underperforming share of overall sales to start the year.' she said. 'Prospective buyers should start conversations with a Realtor® now on what they want in a new home. Even with the expected uptick in new listings in coming months, buyers in most markets will likely have to act fast on any available listing that checks all their boxes.'

All-cash sales were 24 percent of transactions in February, which is up from 22 percent in January and the highest since last February (27 percent). Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 15 percent of homes in February, which is down from 17 percent in January and unchanged from a year ago.

Distressed sales – foreclosures and short sales – were 4 percent of sales in February, down from 5 percent in January and 7 percent a year ago. Three percent of February 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, March 16, 2018

All 3 Major Stock Market Indexes Declined On The Week

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

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Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed @ 24,946.51:

- lost 389.23 points (-1.536%) on the week.
- lost 1,670.20 points (-6.275%) since the January 26, 2018 record-high close (26,616.71.)

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S and P 500 Index closed @ 2,752.01:

- lost 34.56 points (-1.24%) on the week.
- lost 120.86 points (-4.207%) since the January 26, 2018 record-high close (2,872.87.)

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NASDAQ Composite Index closed @ 7,481.99:

- lost 78.82 points (-1.042%) on the week.
- lost 106.33 points (-1.401%) since the March 12, 2018 record-high close (7,588.32.)

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- NYMEX Crude Oil for Future Delivery closed @ $62.34 per barrel

- Comex Gold for April delivery closed @ $1,312.30 per ounce

- In New York, the U.S. dollar buys 0.81367 euros

- In New York, the euro buys 1.229 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 @ 2.85%


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Standard and Poor's 500 Index Chart Through March 16, 2018
Standard and Poor's 500 Index Chart Through March 16, 2018

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Industrial Production + Manufacturing + Capacity Utilization During February 2018

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

Industrial Production:
Predicted: +0.4%
Actual: +1.1%

Manufacturing:
Predicted: +0.4%
Actual: +1.2%

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: 77.7%
Actual: 78.1

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 1.1 percent in February following a decline of 0.3 percent in January. Manufacturing production increased 1.2 percent in February, its largest gain since October. Mining output jumped 4.3 percent, mostly reflecting strong gains in oil and gas extraction. The index for utilities fell 4.7 percent, as warmer-than-normal temperatures last month reduced the demand for heating. At 108.2 percent of its 2012 average, total industrial production in February was 4.4 percent higher than it was a year earlier. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector climbed 0.7 percentage point in February to 78.1 percent, its highest reading since January 2015 but still 1.7 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2017) average..."




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Housing Starts During February 2018

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

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Housing Starts:
Predicted: 1,285,000
Actual: 1,236,000

Change From Previous Month: -7.0%
Change From One Year Previous: -4.0%

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Building Permits:
Predicted: 1,322,000
Actual: 1,298,000

Change From Previous Month: -5.7%
Change From One Year Previous: +6.5%

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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 residential 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 - February 2018
Housing Starts - February 2018
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Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) for January 2018

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) for January 2018 was released by the Labor Department this morning:

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Job Openings

Predicted: 5,800,000
Actual:    6,312,000 (All-Time Record High)

  • Previous Month (revised): 5,667,000

  • One Year Previous: 5,444,000

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Hires: 5,583,000

Total Separations: 5,409,000

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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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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Import and Export Price Indexes for February 2018

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

Import Prices
Predicted: +0.3%
Actual: +0.4%

Change From 12 Months Previous: +3.5%

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Export Prices
Predicted: +0.3%
Actual: +0.2%

Change From 12 Months Previous: +3.3%

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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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    New Unemployment Insurance Claims for The Week of March 10, 2018

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

    Predicted: 229,000
    Actual: 226,000

    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): 230,000
    • 4-Week Moving Average: 221,500
    ========

    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, March 14, 2018

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

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

    Predicted: +0.4%
    Actual: -0.1%

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

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

    -- Previous Month (revised): -0.1%

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

    -- Change from 12 Months Previous: +4.0%

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

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


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

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

    Predicted: +0.2%
    Actual: +0.2%

    Change from 12 months previous: +2.8%

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

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

    Predicted: +0.2%
    Actual: +0.2%

    Change from 12 months previous: +2.5%

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

    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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    Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of March 9, 2018

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

    -- Change from Last Week: +5,000,000 Barrels

    -- Change from Last Year (Y/Y): -97,200,000 Barrels

    -- Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 430,900,000 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, March 13, 2018

    Consumer Price Index (CPI) for February 2018

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

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

    Predicted: +0.2%
    Actual: +0.2%

    (Change from 12 months previous: +2.2%)

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

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

    Predicted: +0.2%
    Actual: +0.2%

    (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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    NFIB Small Business Optimism Index for February 2018

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

    =========

    Predicted: 107.0
    Actual: 107.6

    • Change from Previous Month: +0.6548% (+0.7 point)
    • Change from 12 Months Previous: +2.184% (+2.3 points)

    =========

    The previous month's SBOI reading was 106.9.

    =========

    NFIB Small Business Optimism Index - February 2018
    NFIB Small Business Optimism Index - February 2018

    =========


    Small Business Outlook - February 2018
    Small Business Outlook - February 2018

    =========

    From today's report:


    "...Small business owners are showing unprecedented confidence in the economy as the optimism index continues at record high numbers, rising to 107.6 in February, according to the NFIB Small Business Economic Trends Survey, released today. The historically high numbers include a jump in small business owners increasing capital outlays and raising compensation.

    'When small business owners have confidence and certainty in the economy, they’re able to hire more workers and invest in their business,' said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. 'The historically high readings indicate that policy changes – lower taxes and fewer regulations – are transformative for small businesses. After years of standing on the sidelines and not benefiting from the so-called recovery, Main Street is on fire again.'

    For the first time since 2006, taxes received the fewest votes as the number 1 business problem for small business. The February report shows several components of the Index reached noteworthy highs. In a sign that small businesses are confident and expect growth, owners are spending capital with a net 22 percent planning to raise worker compensation and 66 percent reported capital outlays, up 5 points from January and the highest reading since 2004.

    Moreover, owners expecting higher real sales rose 3 points to a net 28 percent, one of the best readings since 2007. Owners also reported higher nominal sales in the past three months at a net 8 percent of all owners. The net percent of owners reporting inventory increases rose 3 percentage points to a net 7 percent on top of a 6-point rise in January.

    'Small business owners are telling us loud and clear that they’re optimistic, ready to hire, and prepared to raise wages – it’s one of the strongest readings I’ve seen in the 45-year history of the Index,' said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. 'The fact that several components saw significant increases tells us that small businesses are flourishing in a way we haven’t seen in over a decade.'

    Job creation remained strong in February, as reported in the NFIB February Jobs Report, released last week. Finding qualified workers remained as the number one problem for small business owners, surpassing taxes and regulations which have held the top two spots for years..."

     =========

    • 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, March 09, 2018

    Employment Situation Report for February 2018

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

    Nonfarm Payrolls (month-to-month change)
    Predicted: +205,000
    Actual: +313,000


    U-3 Unemployment Rate (Headline)
    Predicted: 4.0%
    Actual: 4.1%

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

    Average Hourly Earnings (month-to-month change)
    Predicted: +0.2%
    Actual: +0.1498%

    Average Hourly Earnings (year-on-year change)
    Predicted: +2.9%
    Actual: +2.6084%

    Average Weekly Earnings (year-on-year change)
    Actual: +2.907%

    Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate: 63.0%
    Previous Month: 62.7%

    Average Workweek
    Predicted: 34.4 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 February, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 4 cents to $26.75 [+0.1498%], following a 7-cent gain in January. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 68 cents, or [2.6084%]. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 6 cents to $22.40 [+0.2686%], in February.

    The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for December was revised up from +160,000 to +175,000, and the change for January was revised up from +200,000 to +239,000. With these revisions, employment gains in December and January combined were 54,000 more 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
    242,000 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, March 08, 2018

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

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

    Predicted: 220,000
    Actual: 231,000

    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): 210,000
    • 4-Week Moving Average: 222,500
    ========

    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, March 07, 2018

    Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of March 2, 2018

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

    -- Change from Last Week: +2,400,000 Barrels

    -- Change from Last Year (Y/Y): -102,500,000 Barrels

    -- Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 425,900,000 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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    Productivity and Labor Costs Report for Q4 2017 (Revised)

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

    Nonfarm Productivity
    Predicted: -0.1%
    Actual: 0.0%

    • Change from 12 Months Previous (Y/Y): +1.1%

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

    Unit Labor Costs
    Predicted: +2.2%
    Actual: +2.5%

    • Change from 12 Months Previous (Y/Y): +1.7%

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

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

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

    Labor Productivity, Q4 2017, Revised
    Labor Productivity, Q4 2017, Revised

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

    Unit Labor Costs, Q4 2017, Revised
    Unit Labor Costs, Q4 2017, Revised

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

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

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

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







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