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Economy

Economic Data (USA)

Friday, September 28, 2018

Consumer Sentiment: Final Result for September 2018

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

Predicted: 100.8
Actual: 100.1

  • Change from Previous Month: +4.054% (+3.9 point)
  • Change from 12 Months Previous: +5.258% (+5.0 points)

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Previous Month's Final ICS Reading: 96.2

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From today's report:


"...Consumer sentiment remained at very favorable levels in September, with the Index topping 100.0 for only the third time since January 2004. Most of the September gain was among households with incomes in the bottom third, whose index value of 96.3 was the highest since November 2000. In contrast, the Sentiment Index among households with incomes in the top third lost a total of 8.1% during the past seven months since reaching its cyclical peak of 111.9 in February 2018. This divergence across income subgroups has been observed in past economic cycles and indicates that the expansion has now benefitted nearly all population subgroups.

All households held very optimistic expectations for improved personal finances in the year ahead, the most favorable financial prospects since 2004 (see the chart [BELOW]). Despite a lessening in September of the expected size of gains in nominal incomes, inflation expectations also declined, acting to offset concerns about declining living standards. Consumers anticipated continued growth in the economy and expected the unemployment rate to continue to slowly decline during the year ahead. The single issue that was cited as having a potential negative impact on the economy was tariffs. Concerns about the negative impact of tariffs were cited by nearly one-third of all consumers in September.

Those [who] voiced negative views of tariffs also held much less favorable prospects for the economy and held inflation expectations that were 0.6 of a percentage point higher than those who didn't mention tariffs. The pace of growth in real personal consumption expenditures can be expected to average 2.6% during late 2018 and into the first half of 2019..."

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Consumer Sentiment - Expected Change In Household Finances Chart - September 2018
Consumer Sentiment - Expected Change In Household Finances Chart - September 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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PCE Price Index + Personal Income + Consumer Spending Report for August 2018

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

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Consumer Spending (Personal Consumption Expenditures)
Predicted: +0.3%
Actual: +0.3%

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

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  • Disposable Personal Income, Current Dollars:  +0.3%
  • Disposable Personal Income, 2012 Chained* Dollars +0.2% 

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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: +0.1%

  • Change from 12 months previous: +2.2%
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Core PCE Price Index
( = PCE Price Index minus food and energy)
Predicted: +0.1%
Actual: 0.0% (unchanged)

  • Change from 12 months previous: +2.0%
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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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*Chained dollars is a method of adjusting real dollar amounts for inflation over time, so as to allow comparison of figures from different years. The Commerce Department introduced the chained-dollar measure in 1996. Chained dollars generally reflect dollar figures computed with 2012 as the base year.


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Thursday, September 27, 2018

New Unemployment Insurance Claims for The Week of September 22, 2018

Earlier today, the Labor Department released its weekly report on New Jobless Insurance Claims for the week that ended on September 22, 2018:

Predicted: 215,000
Actual: 214,000

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): 201,000
  • 4-Week Moving Average: 206,250
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Gross Domestic Product (GDP): Final Estimate for Q2, 2018

U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) "final" (third estimate) report for the second quarter of 2018 was released this morning by the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA):

Predicted: +4.3%
Actual: +4.2%

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 and capital consumption adjustments) increased $65.0 billion in the second quarter, compared with an increase of $26.7 billion in the first quarter.


Profits of domestic financial corporations increased $16.5 billion in the second quarter, in contrast to a decrease of $9.3 billion in the firstquarter. Profits of domestic nonfinancial corporations increased $53.0 billion, compared with an increase of $32.3 billion. Rest-of-the-world profits decreased $4.5 billion, in contrast to an increase of $3.7 billion. In the second quarter, receipts increased $0.5 billion, and payments increased $5.0 billion..."
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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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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of September 21, 2018

The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on September 21, 2018 was released this morning: 

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

-- Change from Last Year (Y/Y): -75,000,000 Barrels

-- Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 396,000,000 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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New Home Sales During August 2018

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

Predicted: 630,000
Actual New Home Sales: 629,000

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Change from One Month Previous: +3.5%

Change from One Year Previous: +12.7%

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Median Price for a New Home during August 2018: $320,200

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Average Price for a New Home during August 2018: $388,400


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Inventory: 6.5 months (not seasonally adjusted.)

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New Home Sales - August 2018 Update
New Home Sales - August 2018 Update

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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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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) for September 2018

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

Predicted: 131.7
Actual: 138.4

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Previous Month (revised): 134.7.
 
  •  Change from Previous Month: +2.747% (+3.7 points)
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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:

"...'After a considerable improvement in August, Consumer Confidence increased further in September and hovers at an 18-year high,' said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. 'The September reading is not far from the all-time high of 144.7 reached in 2000. Consumers’ assessment of current conditions remains extremely favorable, bolstered by a strong economy and robust job growth. The Expectations Index surged in September, suggesting solid economic growth exceeding 3.0 percent for the remainder of the year. These historically high confidence levels should continue to support healthy consumer spending, and should be welcome news for retailers as they begin gearing up for the holiday season.'   

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions held steady in September. Those stating business conditions are 'good' increased from 40.5 percent to 41.4 percent, while those saying business conditions are 'bad' declined marginally from 9.3 percent to 9.1 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was somewhat more favorable. Those claiming jobs are 'plentiful' increased from 42.3 percent to 45.7 percent, but those claiming jobs are 'hard to get' increased from 12.1 percent to 13.2 percent.

Consumers’ optimism about the short-term outlook improved considerably in September. The percentage of consumers anticipating business conditions will improve over the next six months increased from 24.4 percent to 27.6 percent, while those expecting business conditions will worsen declined, from 9.9 percent to 8.0 percent. Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also more upbeat. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased from 21.5 percent to 22.5 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs decreased from 13.2 percent to 11.0 percent. Regarding their short-term income prospects, the percentage of consumers expecting an improvement declined from 25.4 percent to 22.6 percent, but the proportion expecting a decrease declined marginally, from 6.9 percent to 6.5 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, September 24, 2018

Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) for August 2018

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

Predicted: +0.20
Actual (CFNAI): +0.18

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): +0.18
  • 3-Month Moving Average (CFNAI-MA3): +0.24
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Chicago Fed National Activity Index with Business Cycles - August 2018 Update
Chicago Fed National Activity Index with Business Cycles - August 2018 Update

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From Today's Report

"...Index Points to Steady Economic Growth in August

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) was unchanged at +0.18 in August. Three of the four broad categories of indicators that make up the index increased from July, and two of the four categories made positive contributions to the index in August. The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, rose to +0.24 in August from +0.02 in July..."
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Understanding The CFNAI:

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

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

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

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Existing Home Sales During August 2018

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

Predicted: 5,360,000
Actual: 5,340,000

  •  Change from Previous Month: 0.0% (No Change)

  •  Change from One Year Previous: -1.5%
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Inventory: 1,920,000 (4.3 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 August: $264,800

Change from One Year Previous: +4.6%

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Average Price for A Used Home During August: $303,200

Change from One Year Previous: +3.0%

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From Today's Report:


Existing-home sales remained steady in August after four straight months of decline, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Sales gains in the Northeast and Midwest canceled out downturns in the South and West.

Total existing-home sales, https://www.nar.realtor/existing-home-sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, did not change from July and remained at a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.34 million in August. Sales are now down 1.5 percent from a year ago (5.42 million in August 2017). 

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the decline in existing home sales appears to have hit a plateau with robust regional sales. 'Strong gains in the Northeast and a moderate uptick in the Midwest helped to balance out any losses in the South and West, halting months of downward momentum,' he said. 'With inventory stabilizing and modestly rising, buyers appear ready to step back into the market.'

The median existing-home price for all housing types in August was $264,800, up 4.6 percent from August 2017 ($253,100). August’s price increase marks the 78th straight month of year-over-year gains.

Total housing inventory at the end of August also remained unchanged from July at 1.92 million existing homes available for sale, and is up from 1.87 million a year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 4.3-month supply at the current sales pace, consistent from last month and up from 4.1 months a year ago. 

Properties typically stayed on the market for 29 days in August, up from 27 days in July but down from 30 days a year ago. Fifty-two percent of homes sold in August were on the market for less than a month. 

'While inventory continues to show modest year over year gains, it is still far from a healthy level and new home construction is not keeping up to satisfy demand,' said Yun. 'Homes continue to fly off the shelves with a majority of properties selling within a month, indicating that more inventory – especially moderately priced, entry-level homes – would propel sales.'

Realtor.com®’s Market Hotness Index, measuring time-on-the-market data and listings views per property, revealed that the hottest metro areas in August were Midland, Texas; Fort Wayne, Ind.; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.; Columbus, Ohio; and Boise City, Idaho.

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate (link is external) for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage increased to 4.55 percent in August from 4.53 percent in July. The average commitment rate for all of 2017 was 3.99 percent.

'Rising interests rates along with high home prices and lack of inventory continues to push entry-level and first time home buyers out of the market,' said Yun. 'Realtors® continue to report that the demand is there – that current renters want to become homeowners – but there simply are not enough properties available in their price range.'

First-time buyers were 31 percent of sales in August, down from last month (32 percent) but the same as 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.

'Realtors® across the country report that their clients waver about the decision to list their home; they are excited by the prospect of receiving many offers, they are concerned that they will not be able to find a new home to purchase,' said NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation Realtor® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty. 'Unfortunately this fluctuating view is contributing to the short supply of homes. Buyers hoping to find an entry level home in this market should work with a Realtor® and be prepared to move quickly as listings sell quickly.'

All-cash sales were 20 percent of transactions in August, unchanged from July and a year ago. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 13 percent of homes in August, unchanged from July and down from 15 percent a year ago.

Distressed sales – foreclosures and short sales – were 3 percent of sales in August (lowest since NAR began tracking in October 2008), unchanged from last month and down from 4 percent a year ago. Two percent of June 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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Leading Economic Index for August 2018

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

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Index for August: 111.2 (The baseline 100 score is associated with 2016 data.)

Predicted: +0.5%
Actual: +0.361% (+0.4 point)

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  • July 2018 Reading: 110.8  (+0.727%  |  +0.8 point)

  • June 2018 Reading: 110.0 (+0.548%  |  +0.6 point)

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The yellow-highlighted percentage is 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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Chart: Leading Economic Index - August 2018 Update
Chart: Leading Economic Index - August 2018 Update

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From Today's Report:

"...'The leading indicators are consistent with a solid growth scenario in the second half of 2018 and at this stage of a maturing business cycle in the US, it doesn’t get much better than this,' said Ataman Ozyildirim, Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research at The Conference Board. 'The US LEI’s growth trend has moderated since the start of the year. Industrial companies that are more sensitive to the business cycle should be on the lookout for a possible moderation in economic growth in 2019.

The strengths among the LEI’s components were very widespread, further supporting an outlook of above 3.0 percent growth for the remainder of 2018.'..."

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New Unemployment Insurance Claims for The Week of September 15, 2018

Earlier today, the Labor Department released its weekly report on New Jobless Insurance Claims for the week that ended on September 15, 2018:

Predicted: 210,000
Actual: 201,000

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): 204,000
  • 4-Week Moving Average: 205,750
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From today's report:


"...This is the lowest level for this average since December 6, 1969 when it was 204,500..."

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of September 14, 2018

The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on September 14, 2018 was released this morning: 

-- Change from Last Week: -2,100,000 Barrels

-- Change from Last Year (Y/Y): -78,700,000 Barrels

-- Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 394,100,000 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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Housing Starts During August 2018

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

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Housing Starts:
Predicted: 1,240,000
Actual: 1,282,000

Change From Previous Month: +9.2%
Change From One Year Previous: +9.4%

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Building Permits:
Predicted: 1,315,000
Actual: 1,229,000

Change From Previous Month: -5.7%
Change From One Year Previous: -5.5%

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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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Friday, September 14, 2018

Import and Export Price Indexes for August 2018

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

Import Prices
Predicted: -0.1%
Actual: -0.6%

Change From 12 Months Previous: +3.7%

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

Change From 12 Months Previous: +3.6%

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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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Industrial Production + Manufacturing + Capacity Utilization During August 2018

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

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

Manufacturing:
Predicted: +0.3%
Actual: +0.2%

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: 78.3%
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 0.4 percent in August for its third consecutive monthly increase. Manufacturing output moved up 0.2 percent on the strength of a 4.0 percent rise for motor vehicles and parts; motor vehicle assemblies jumped to an annual rate of 11.5 million units, the strongest reading since April. Excluding the gain in motor vehicles and parts, factory output was unchanged. The output of utilities advanced 1.2 percent, and mining production increased 0.7 percent; the index for mining last decreased in January. At 108.2 percent of its 2012 average, total industrial production was 4.9 percent higher in August than it was a year earlier. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector moved up in August to 78.1 percent, a rate that is 1.7 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2017) average..."




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

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

Predicted: +0.4%
Actual: +0.087% (+$440,000,000)

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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-- Estimated Retail Sales During August 2018: $507,533,000,000

-- Change from 12 Months Previous: +6.6347% (+$31,680,000,000)

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Chart: Retail Sales - August 2018 Update
Chart: Retail Sales - August 2018 Update
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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Consumer Price Index (CPI) for August 2018

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

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Predicted: +0.3%
Actual: +0.2%

(Change from 12 months previous: +2.7%)

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

Predicted: +0.2%
Actual: +0.1%

(Change from 12 months previous: +2.2%)

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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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Chart: Consumer Price Index (CPI) - August 2018 Update
Chart: Consumer Price Index (CPI) - August 2018 Update

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New Unemployment Insurance Claims for The Week of September 8, 2018

Earlier today, the Labor Department released its weekly report on New Jobless Insurance Claims for the week that ended on September 8, 2018:

Predicted: 210,000
Actual: 204,000

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): 205,000
  • 4-Week Moving Average: 208,000
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From today's report:


"...This is the lowest level for initial claims since December 6, 1969 when it was 204,500...."

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of September 7, 2018

The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on September 7, 2018 was released this morning: 

-- Change from Last Week: -5,300,000 Barrels

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

-- Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 396,200,000 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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Friday, September 07, 2018

Employment Situation Report for August 2018

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

Nonfarm Payrolls (month-to-month change)
Predicted: +195,000
Actual: +201,000


U-3 Unemployment Rate (Headline)
Actual: 3.9%
Previous Month: 3.9%
12 Months Previous: 4.4%

U-6 Unemployment Rate*
Actual: 7.4%
Previous Month: 7.5%
12 Months Previous: 8.6%

Average Hourly Earnings (month-to-month change)
Predicted: +0.3%
Actual: +0.37% (+$0.10)

Average Hourly Earnings (year-on-year change)
Predicted: +2.7%
Actual: +2.918% (+$0.77)

Average Weekly Earnings (month-to-month change)
Actual: +0.37% (+$3.45)


Average Weekly Earnings (year-on-year change)
Actual: +3.216% (+$29.20)

Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate: 62.7%
Previous Month: 62.9%
12 Months Previous: 62.9%

Average Workweek
Predicted: 34.5 hours
Actual: 34.5 hours

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

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

From today's report:


"...In August, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 10 cents to $27.16
[+0.37%]. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 77 cents, or [+2.918%]. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 7 cents to $22.73 [+0.309%] in August.


The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for June was revised down from +248,000 to +208,000, and the change for July was revised down from +157,000 to +147,000. With these revisions, employment gains in June and July combined were 50,000 less than previously reported. (Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors.)
After revisions, job gains have averaged 185,000 per month 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, September 06, 2018

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

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

Predicted: 56.8%
Actual: 58.5% (+2.8 points | +5.027% M/M Change)

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Previous month: 55.7%

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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 June for the 103RD 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:

  •     'Tariff-related cost increases are beginning to accelerate, whether tariffs have been put into effect or not.'
     (Construction)

  •     'Our business continues to increase, perhaps linked to the general economy and aging baby boomers.'
     (Health Care + Social Assistance)

  •     'Government tariffs are negatively impacting production and recycling sales. Pulp costs have gone up, and that has directly impacted paper for our newspaper production and copy paper. A 10-percent tariff has been placed on aluminum, [which] is used to make production plates. Those used plates are put on the recycling market, which China has put a tariff on. These dynamics have a significant impact on newspaper margins.'
     (Information)

  •     'Business for August is surprisingly higher for our company compared to last month and YOY [year over year]. Based on current trends on customer quote requests and conversions to orders, we are trending for this month to be the best August in the history of our company.'
     (Management of Companies + Support Services)

  •     'The global tariff war, [with] steel in particular, has driven the cost of goods higher.'
     (Mining)

  •     'Oil and gas hiring continues to increase, particularly in the oil-field services sector. Capital-project activity is strong in the downstream, petrochemical, midstream and onshore drilling sectors. New investment in deepwater drilling projects remains low.'
     (Professional, Scientific + Technical Services)

  •     'Business activity is markedly higher now that the government is in the fourth quarter of its fiscal year and agencies need to obligate their fiscal year 2018 funds. Many contracts expiring in this time frame require renewal.'
     (Public Administration)

  •     'Overall, business has increased. Many factors can be attributed to this increase in demand, [including] the budget and positive outlook on the economy.'
     (Real Estate, Rental + Leasing)

  •     'Solid Q2 results, beating estimates all around. Since we are a services business, the tariffs have little impact [at this point] but are nonetheless a consideration. We do harbor future concerns about the general cost of goods from overseas and the effects on consumer pricing. In the labor market, we have seen a noticeable increase in difficulty to attract and retain talent at all levels. We have begun taking steps to change compensation packages to combat this issue.'
     (Retail Trade)

  •     'Demand for transportation has started earlier than normal with the rail [industry] announcing peak season surcharges that were effective August 1. We are having to re-adjust inventory levels sooner than anticipated.'
     (Wholesale Trade)



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ISM Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI) History - August 2018 Update
ISM Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI) History - August 2018 Update

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Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of August 31, 2018

The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on August 31, 2018 was released this morning: 

-- Change from Last Week: -4,300,000 Barrels

-- Change from Last Year (Y/Y): -60,900,000 Barrels

-- Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 401,500,000 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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Productivity and Labor Costs Report for Q2 2018 (Revised)

The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) this morning released its quarterly report on Productivity and Unit Labor Costs for the second quarter of 2018 (revised):

Nonfarm Productivity
Predicted: +3.0%
Actual: +2.9%

Change from A Year Ago: +1.3%

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Unit Labor Costs
Predicted: -1.0%
Actual: -1.0%

Change from A Year Ago: +1.9%

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


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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New Unemployment Insurance Claims for The Week of September 1, 2018

Earlier today, the Labor Department released its weekly report on New Jobless Insurance Claims for the week that ended on September 1, 2018:

Predicted: 213,000
Actual: 203,000

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): 213,000
  • 4-Week Moving Average: 209,500
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From today's report:


"...This is the lowest level for initial claims since December 6, 1969 when it was 202,000...."

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U.S. Factory Orders During July 2018

The U.S. Census Bureau this morning released their report on Manufacturers' Shipments, Inventories and Orders -- also known as Factory Orders -- for July 2018:

Predicted: -0.7%
Actual: -0.769% (-$3,858,000,000)


  • July 2018 New Orders: $497,754,000,000.

  • June 2018 New Orders (revised): $501,612,000,000 (+0.644% | +$3,211,000,000)

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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 - July 2018 Update
U.S. Factory Orders - July 2018 Update

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Tuesday, September 04, 2018

ISM Manufacturing Index for August 2018

Earlier today, the Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®) released their Manufacturing Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI®) for August 2018:

Predicted: 57.7%
Actual: 61.3%

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Previous month: 58.1%

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

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

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From Today's Report:

"...Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in June, and the overall economy grew for the 112th consecutive month, say the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®..."
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The following is a sampling of quotes from a diverse pool of U.S. manufacturers:



  •     'Busy for new orders, but the cost of raw material chemicals keeps going up.'
     (Chemical Products)

  •     'We have seen a slight uptick in international business. Suppliers do not seem to know how to handle the recently imposed tariffs. Most are waiting to re-evaluate potential price increases until September.'
     (Computer + Electronic Products)

  •     'Generally high levels of demand continue, and [we are] planning for this elevated rate through the rest of the year.'
     (Transportation Equipment)

  •     'Suppliers appear to be bracing us for cost increases, given increased talk of tariffs and inflation. We are budgeting for 2019 accordingly.'
     (Food, Beverage
    + Tobacco Products)

  •     'The toughest thing we deal with is the unknown. Dealing with tariffs on steel purchases and not knowing if or when they will end makes planning difficult. We are entering the period when we begin our pricing negotiations for next year and will likely treat the tariffs as if they will be here for the entire year. It’s challenging, but not insurmountable.'
     (Fabricated Metal Products)

  •     'Business is positive, new equipment sales and inquiries are strong, and the parts business is strong. Raw material costs, especially steel, appear to be leveling off. Cost of manufactured components has also leveled off. Most suppliers are willing and able to suppress cost increases. Tariff impacts are still a concern.'
     (Machinery)

  •     'Business continues to be strong. We anticipate growth in the next few months.'
     (Plastics
    + Rubber Products)

  •     'Business conditions are strong. Orders are up. Purchase prices are up. Unemployment is down.'
     (Miscellaneous Manufacturing)

  •     'Continued strong demand has most locations in a sold-out market, putting pressure on our facilities to produce and have strong uptime. Purchasing is under pressure to provide critical parts in a market where lead times have increased.'
     (Nonmetallic Mineral Products)

  •     'Steel tariffs and their threats are putting upward pressure on downstream materials.'
     (Petroleum
    + Coal Products)

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ISM Manufacturing Index History - August 2018 Update
ISM Manufacturing Index History - August 2018 Update

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