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Economy

Economic Data (USA)

Friday, March 29, 2019

Consumer Sentiment: Final Result for March 2019

The University of Michigan's Index of Consumer Sentiment (ICS) - Final Result for March 2019 was released today:

Predicted: 97.8
Actual: 98.4

  • Change from Previous Month: +4.904% (+4.6 points)
  • Change from 12 Months Previous: -2.959% (-3.0 points)

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  • Final ICS Reading from February 2019: 93.8

  • Final ICS Reading from March 2018: 101.4

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From today's report:

"...Consumer confidence rebounded in March to 98.4 from last month's 93.8, slightly above the average of 97.2 recorded in the past 26 months. The March gain in the Sentiment Index was entirely due to households with incomes in the bottom two-thirds of the income distribution, posting a gain of +7.1 Index-points, while households with incomes in the top third fell by 1.1 Index-points. Middle and lower income households more frequently reported income gains than last month, although income gains were still widespread among upper income households. Indeed, the last time a larger proportion of households reported income gains was in 1966. Rising incomes were accompanied by lower expected year-ahead inflation rates, resulting in more favorable real income expectations. Moreover, all income groups voiced more favorable growth prospects for the overall economy.

While no further decline in interest rate expectations was recorded in March, the data suggest that consumers anticipated additional increases in 2019. Finally, it should be noted that too few interviews were conducted following the summary release of the Mueller report to have any impact on the March data; if there is any, it may affect the April data. Overall, the data do not indicate an emerging recession but point toward slightly lower unit sales of vehicles and homes during the year ahead..."

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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 Home Sales During February 2019

The February 2019 New Home Sales report was released by the Commerce Department this morning:

Predicted: 615,000
Actual New Home Sales: 667,000

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Change from One Month Previous: +4.9%

Change from One Year Previous: +0.6%

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Median Price for a New Home during February 2019: $315,300

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Average Price for a New Home during February 2019: $379,600


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Inventory: 340,000 (6.1 months supply at current sales rate.)

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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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PCE Price Index + Personal Income + Consumer Spending Report for January 2019

The Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released its report on The PCE Price Index, Consumer Spending and Personal Income for January 2019:

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Consumer Spending (Personal Consumption Expenditures)
Predicted: +0.3%
Actual: +0.1%

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Personal Income
Predicted: N/A
Actual: -0.1%

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

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The above 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: No change
Actual: -0.1%

  • Change from 12 months previous: +1.4%
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Core PCE Price Index
( = PCE Price Index minus food and energy)
Predicted: +0.2%
Actual: +0.1%

  • Change from 12 months previous: +1.8%
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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, March 28, 2019

New Unemployment Insurance Claims for The Week of March 23, 2019

Earlier today, the Labor Department released its weekly report on New Jobless Insurance Claims for the week that ended on March 23, 2019:

Predicted: 225,000
Actual: 211,000

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

  • Previous Week (revised): 216,000
  • 4-Week Moving Average: 217,250
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Gross Domestic Product (GDP): Third (Final) Estimate for Q4, 2018

Earlier this morning, the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released its third and final estimate for U.S. Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the fourth quarter of 2018:

Predicted: +2.2%
Actual: +2.2%

The yellow-highlighted percentage represents the quarter-to-quarter change for Real Gross Domestic Product for the entire United States.

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"...Corporate Profits

Profits from current production (corporate profits with inventory valuation and capital consumption adjustments) decreased $9.7 billion in the fourth quarter, in contrast to an increase of $78.2 billion in the third quarter.

Profits of domestic financial corporations decreased $25.2 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with a decrease of $6.1 billion in the third quarter. Profits of domestic nonfinancial corporations increased $13.6 billion, compared with an increase of $83.0 billion. Rest-of-the-world profits increased $1.9 billion, compared with an increase of $1.3 billion. In the fourth quarter, receipts increased $8.8 billion, and payments increased $6.9 billion.
.."

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  •  Real GDP rose by 2.9% in 2018.

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Chart: GDP, Fourth Quarter 2018, Third / Final Estimate
Chart: GDP, Fourth Quarter 2018, Third / 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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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of March 22, 2019

The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on  March 22, 2019 was released this morning: 

-- Change from Last Week: +2,800,000

-- Change from A Year Ago (Y/Y): +12,300,000 Barrels

-- Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 442,300,000 Barrels

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

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



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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Housing Starts During February 2019

The U.S. Commerce Department this morning released its Housing Starts report for February 2019:

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Housing Starts:
Predicted: 1,201,000
Actual: 1,162,000

Change From Previous Month: -8.7%
Change From One Year Previous: -9.9%

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Building Permits:
Predicted: 1,300,000
Actual: 1,296,000

Change From Previous Month: -1.6%
Change From One Year Previous: -2.0%

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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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Chart: Housing Starts - February 2019 Update
Chart: Housing Starts - February 2019 Update

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Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) for March 2019

The Consumer Confidence Index® (CCI) for this month (March 2019) was released by The Conference Board® this morning:

  • Actual: 124.1

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Previous Month (revised): 131.4
 
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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 decreased in March after rebounding in February, with the Present Situation the main driver of this month’s decline,' said Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. 'Confidence has been somewhat volatile over the past few months, as consumers have had to weather volatility in the financial markets, a partial government shutdown and a very weak February jobs report. Despite these dynamics, consumers remain confident that the economy will continue expanding in the near term. However, the overall trend in confidence has been softening since last summer, pointing to a moderation in economic growth.'

Consumers’ optimism about the short-term future moderated in March. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions will improve over the next six months declined from 19.6 percent to 17.7 percent, while those expecting business conditions will worsen remained relatively flat, 9.3 percent versus 9.2 percent last month..
."

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 25, 2019

Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) for February 2019

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago released its National Activity Index (CFNAI) for February 2019:

Predicted: +0.10
Actual (CFNAI): -0.29

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): -0.25
  • 3-Month Moving Average (CFNAI-MA3): -0.18
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Chart: Chicago Fed National Activity Index with Business Cycles - February 2019 Update
Chart: Chicago Fed National Activity Index with Business Cycles
February 2019 Update

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From Today's Report

"...Index points to little change in economic growth in February

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) edged down to –0.29 in February from –0.25 in January. Two of the four broad categories of indicators that make up the index decreased from January, and three of the four categories made negative contributions to the index in February. The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, moved down to –0.18 in February from a neutral reading 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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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of March 15, 2019

The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on  March 15, 2019 was released this morning: 

-- Change from Last Week: -9,600,000

-- Change from A Year Ago (Y/Y): +11,200,000 Barrels

-- Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 439,500,000 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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Thursday, March 14, 2019

New Home Sales During January 2019

The January 2019 New Home Sales report was released by the Commerce Department this morning:

Predicted: 612,000
Actual New Home Sales: 607,000

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Change from One Month Previous: -6.9%

Change from One Year Previous: -4.1%

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Median Price for a New Home during January 2019: $317,200

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Average Price for a New Home during January 2019: $373,100


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Inventory: 336,000 (6.6 months supply at current sales rate.)

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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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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of March 8, 2019

The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on  March 8, 2019 was released this morning: 

-- Change from Last Week: -3,900,000

-- Change from A Year Ago (Y/Y): +18,100,000 Barrels

-- Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 449,100,000 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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Producer Price Index - Final Demand (PPI-FD) for February 2019

The Producer Price Index - Final Demand (PPI-FD) for February 2019 was released this morning:

Predicted: +0.2%
Actual: +0.1%

Change from 12 months previous:  +1.9%

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

Predicted: +0.2%
Actual: +0.1%

Change from 12 months previous:  +2.3%

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

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

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

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


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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Consumer Price Index (CPI) for February 2019

Earlier this morning, the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for February 2019:

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Predicted: +0.2
Actual: +0.2% 

(Change from 12 months previous: +1.5%)

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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: +2.1%)

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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) - February 2019 Update
Chart: Consumer Price Index (CPI) - February 2019 Update

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Monday, March 11, 2019

U.S. Retail And Food Services Sales Report for January 2019

The Commerce Department this morning released advance estimates of U.S. Retail and Food Services Sales for January 2019:

Predicted: +0.1%
Actual: +0.212% (+1,060,000,000)

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 January 2019: $504,440,000,000

  • Change from 12 months previous: +2.284% (+$11,263,000,000)

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Friday, March 08, 2019

Employment Situation Report for February 2019

The Employment Situation Report for February 2019 was released by The Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning:

Nonfarm Payrolls (month-to-month change)
Predicted: +175,000
Actual: +20,000


U-3 Unemployment Rate (Headline)
Actual: 3.8%
Previous Month: 4.0%
12 Months Previous: 4.1%

U-6 Unemployment Rate*
Actual: 7.3%
Previous Month: 8.1%
12 Months Previous: 8.2%

Average Hourly Earnings (month-to-month change)
Predicted: +0.3%
Actual: +0.399% (+$0.11)

Average Hourly Earnings (year-on-year change)
Predicted: +3.3%
Actual: +3.402% (+$0.91)

Average Weekly Earnings (month-to-month change)
Actual: +0.107% (+$1.02)


Average Weekly Earnings (year-on-year change)
Actual: +3.101% (+$28.62)

Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate: 63.2%
Previous Month: 63.2%
12 Months Previous: 63.0%

Average Workweek
Predicted: 34.5 hours
Actual: 34.4 hours

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

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

From today's report:

"...In February, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 11 cents to $27.66
[+0.399%], following a 2-cent gain in January. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by [$0.91, or +3.402%]. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 8 cents to $23.18 [+0.346%] in February.


The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for December was revised up from +222,000 to +227,000, and the change for January was revised up from +304,000 to +311,000. With these revisions, employment gains in December and January combined were 12,000 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
186,000 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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Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of March 1, 2019

The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on  March 1, 2019 was released this morning: 

-- Change from Last Week: +7,100,000

-- Change from Last Year (Y/Y): +27,000,000 Barrels

-- Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 452,900,000 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 05, 2019

New Home Sales During December 2018

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

Predicted: 590,000
Actual New Home Sales: 621,000

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Change from One Month Previous: +3.7%

Change from One Year Previous: -2.4%

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Median Price for a New Home during December 2018: $318,600

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Average Price for a New Home during December 2018: $377,000


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Inventory: 344,000 (6.6 months supply at current sales rate.)

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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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Friday, March 01, 2019

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

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

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Consumer Spending (Personal Consumption Expenditures)
Predicted: -0.3%
Actual: -0.5%

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Personal Income
Predicted: +0.4%
Actual: +1.0%

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  • Disposable Personal Income, Current Dollars:  +1.1%
  • Disposable Personal Income, 2012 Chained* Dollars +1.0% 

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The above 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: No change
Actual: +0.1%

  • Change from 12 months previous: +1.7%
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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: +1.9%
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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.

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

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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