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Economy

Economic Data (USA)

Thursday, December 30, 2021

New Unemployment Insurance Claims for The Week of December 25, 2021

Jobless Claims
Jobless Claims

Earlier today, the Labor Department released its weekly report on New Jobless Insurance Claims for the week that ended on December 25, 2021:

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Predicted: 200,000

  • Actual: 198,000
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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): 206,000
  • 4-Week Moving Average: 199,250

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From Today's Report

"...In the week ending December 25, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 198,000, a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 205,000 to 206,000. The 4-week moving average was 199,250, a decrease of 7,250 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since October 25, 1969 when it was 199,250. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 206,250 to 206,500..."


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Pending Home Sales Index for November 2021

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) report for November 2021 was released by The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) this morning:


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Predicted: Unchanged.

  • Actual: 122.4

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-- Previous Month (revised): 125.2

-- 12 Months Previous: 125.8

  •  Change from Previous Month: -2.236% (-2.8 points)

  •  Change from One Year Previous: -2.703% (-3.4 points)
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From the NAR website:

  • An index above 100 coincides with a historically high level of home sales activity.

  • An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, the first year to be analyzed. Coincidentally, 2001 was the first of four consecutive record years for existing-home sales. 2001 sales are fairly close to the higher level of home sales expected in the coming decade relative to the norms experienced in the mid-1990s. As such, an index of 100 coincides with a historically high level of home sales activity.
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From Today's Report:

"...Pending home sales slipped in November, receding slightly after a previous month of gains, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Each of the four major U.S. regions witnessed contract transactions decline month-over-month. Year-over-year activity mostly retreated too, as three regions reported drops and only the Midwest saw an increase.

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), www.nar.realtor/pending-home-sales, a forward-looking indicator of home sales based on contract signings, fell 2.2.% to 122.4 in November. Year-over-year, signings slid 2.7%. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001.

"There was less pending home sales action this time around, which I would ascribe to low housing supply, but also to buyers being hesitant about home prices," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "While I expect neither a price reduction, nor another year of record-pace price gains, the market will see more inventory in 2022 and that will help some consumers with affordability."

Yun notes that housing demand continues to be high, explaining that homes placed on the market for sale go from "listed status" to "under contract" in approximately 18 days.

"Buyer competition alone is unrelenting, but home seekers have also had to contend with the negative impacts of supply chain disruptions and labor shortages this year," he said. "These aspects, along with the exorbitant prices and a lack of available homes, have created a much tougher buying season."

Yun adds that a countrywide surge of the omicron variant poses a risk to the housing market's performance, as buyers and sellers are sidelined, and home construction is delayed.

Realtor.com®'s Hottest Housing Markets (link is external) most recent data showed that out of the largest 40 metros, the most improved markets over the past year were Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla.; Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.; Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo..."
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Housing Snapshot Pending Home Sales November 2021

 Housing Snapshot
Pending Home Sales
November 2021

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Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of December 24, 2021

Crude Oil Inventories
Crude Oil Inventories

The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on December 24, 2021 was released this morning:

-- Change from Last Week: -3,600,000 Barrels

-- Change from A Year Ago (Y/Y): -73,500,000 Barrels

-- Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 420,000,000 Barrels

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

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


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Friday, December 24, 2021

Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of December 17, 2021

Crude Oil Inventories
Crude Oil Inventories

The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on December 17, 2021 was released this morning:

-- Change from Last Week: -4,700,000 Barrels

-- Change from A Year Ago (Y/Y): -76,000,000 Barrels

-- Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 423,600,000 Barrels

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

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


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Thursday, December 23, 2021

New Home Sales During November 2021

The November 2021 New Home Sales report was released by the Commerce Department this morning:

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Predicted: 750,000
  • Actual New Home Sales: 744,000

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  • Change from One Month Previous: +82,000 units (+12.387%)

  • Change from One Year Previous: -121,000 units (-13.988%)


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Median Price for a New Home
during November 2021: $416,900 (New Record High)

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Average Price for a New Home
during November 2021: $481,700 (New Record High)

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Inventory: 402,000 (6.5 months supply at current sales rate; seasonally‐adjusted estimate.)

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CHART: Cost of A Newly Built Home - November 2021 Update

 CHART: Cost of A Newly Built Home
November 2021 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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Consumer Sentiment: Final Results for December 2021

The University of Michigan's Index of Consumer Sentiment (ICS) -  Final  Results for December 2021 was released today:

Predicted: 70.5
  • Actual: 70.6
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  • Change from Previous Month: +4.748% (+3.2 points)
  • Change from 12 Months Previous: -12.515% (-10.1 points)

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  • Final ICS Reading for November 2021: 67.4

  • Final ICS Reading for December 2020: 80.7

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From today's report:

"...The Sentiment Index improved in December. The uptick was primarily due to significant gains among households with incomes in the bottom third of the distribution. Indeed, the bottom third expected their incomes to rise during the year ahead by 2.8%, up from 1.8% last December, and the highest level since 2.9% was recorded in 1999. There have only been five times in the past half century that income expectations among low income households have exceeded the December 2021 level. The announced increase in Social Security payments of 5.9% in 2022 was partly responsible for the gain, and 5.0% increases in expected wage among the youngest workers. Importantly, too few interviews were conducted to capture the impact of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the U.S. Confidence and spending are likely to be depressed in January, but it is too early to know the eventual impact of Omicron on the economy.

Consumers' evaluations of their current finances remained unchanged at lower levels due to the erosion of their living standards from rising
inflation. One-in-four households specifically cited the negative impact of inflation on their living standards. The partisan nature of consumer expectations has overwhelmed other economic correlates. Democrats anticipate much lower inflation rates than Republicans for the year ahead (3.0% vs. 6.8%) and over the longer term (2.3% vs. 4.4%). Moreover, three times as many Republicans as Democrats cited the negative impact on their finances from inflation (47% vs. 16%). Sharp differences in expected gains in nominal incomes were also found by partisanship, as Democrats anticipated much higher gains than Republicans (2.7% vs. 0.4%). Independents, who are least likely to be influenced by partisanship, equaled the median expected income response across partisan subgroups. This finding has been widely replicated across many other expectations, and indicates that partisan extremes generally offset and the sum is approximately equal the views of Independents..."

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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 those 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 November 2021

The Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released its report on The PCE Price Index, Consumer Spending and Personal Income for November 2021:

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Consumer Spending (Personal Consumption Expenditures)

Predicted: +0.5%

  • Actual: +0.6%
  • Actual (2012 Chained* Dollars): UNCHANGED
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Personal Income

Predicted: +0.3%
  • Actual: +0.4%
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  • Disposable Personal Income, Current Dollars: +0.4%
  • 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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CHART: Month-on-Month Change in Personal Income November 2021 Update

CHART: Month-on-Month Change in Personal Income
November 2021 Update

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Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Price Index
Predicted: +0.7%
Actual: +0.6% 

  • Change from 12 months previous: +5.7%
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Core PCE Price Index
( = PCE Price Index minus food and energy)
Predicted: +0.5%
Actual: +0.5%

  • Change from 12 months previous: +4.7%
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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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Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) for December 2021

The Consumer Confidence Index® (CCI) for this month (December 2021) was released by The Conference Board® this morning:

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Predicted: 111.0
  • Actual: 115.8

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Previous Month (revised): 111.9

  • Change from Previous Month: +3.485% (+3.9 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:

"...'Consumer confidence improved further in December, following a very modest gain in November,' said Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. 'The Present Situation Index dipped slightly but remains very high, suggesting the economy has maintained its momentum in the final month of 2021. Expectations about short-term growth prospects improved, setting the stage for continued growth in early 2022. The proportion of consumers planning to purchase homes, automobiles, major appliances, and vacations over the next six months all increased.'

'Meanwhile, concerns about inflation declined after hitting a 13-year high last month as did concerns about COVID-19, despite reports of continued price increases and the emergence of the Omicron variant. Looking ahead to 2022, both confidence and consumer
spending will continue to face headwinds from rising prices and an expected winter surge of the pandemic.'..."

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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 Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) - December 2021 Update


Consumer Confidence Index (CCI)
December 2021 Update

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Monday, December 20, 2021

Leading Economic Index for November 2021

The Conference Board® released its Leading Economic Index® (LEI) for November 2021 this morning:

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Index for November 2021: 119.9 (The baseline 100 score is associated with 2016 data.)

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Predicted: +1.0%
  • Actual: +1.096% (+1.3 points)

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  • LEI for October 2021: 118.6

  • LEI for September 2021: 117.6

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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 - November 2021 Update

CHART: Leading Economic Index
November 2021 Update

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Thursday, December 16, 2021

Industrial Production + Manufacturing + Capacity Utilization During November 2021

The Industrial Production, Manufacturing and Capacity Utilization numbers for November 2021 were released by the Federal Reserve this morning:

Industrial Production:
Predicted: +1.0%
Actual: +0.5%

Manufacturing:
Predicted: +1.0%
Actual: +0.7%

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: 77.0%
Actual: 76.8% 

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 0.5 percent in November. The indexes for both manufacturing and mining increased 0.7 percent, while the index for utilities decreased 0.8 percent.

At 102.3 percent of its 2017 average, total industrial production in November was 5.3 percent above its year-earlier level and at its highest reading since September 2019. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector increased 0.3 percentage point to 76.8 percent; even so, it was 2.8 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2020) average.
..."

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CHART: Industrial Production - Consumer Goods

 CHART: Industrial Production - Consumer Goods

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Housing Starts During November 2021

The U.S. Commerce Department this morning released its Housing Starts report for November 2021:

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Housing Starts:
Predicted: 1,600,000
Actual: 1,679,000

Change From Previous Month: +11.784% (+177,000 New Units)
Change From One Year Previous: +8.253% (+128,000 New Units)

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Building Permits:
Predicted: 1,600,000
Actual: 1,712,000

Change From Previous Month: +3.569% (+59,000 New permits)
Change From One Year Previous: +0.943%  (+16,000 New Permits)

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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 - November 2021 Update

CHART: Housing Starts - November 2021 Update

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New Unemployment Insurance Claims for The Week of December 11, 2021

Jobless Claims
Jobless Claims

Earlier today, the Labor Department released its weekly report on New Jobless Insurance Claims for the week that ended on December 11, 2021:

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Predicted: 200,000

  • Actual: 206,000
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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): 188,000
  • 4-Week Moving Average: 203,750

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From Today's Report

"...The 4-week moving average was 203,750, a decrease of 16,000 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since November 15, 1969 when it was 202,750. The previous week's average was revised up by 1,000 from 218,750 to 219,750..."


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Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Import and Export Price Indexes for November 2021

The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning released its report on U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes for November 2021:

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Import Prices
Predicted: +1.0%
Actual: +0.7%

Change From 12 Months Previous: +11.7%

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Export Prices
Predicted: +1.0%
Actual: +1.0%

Change From 12 Months Previous: +18.2%

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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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CHART: Import Price Index November 2021 Update

 CHART: Import Price Index November 2021 Update

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CHART: Export Price Index - November 2021 Update

CHART: Export Price Index - November 2021 Update


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From Today's Report:

"...Imports: The price index for U.S. imports rose 11.7 percent over the past 12 months, the largest over-the-year increase since the index advanced 12.7 percent for the year ended September 2011..."

"...Exports: U.S. exports increased 18.2 percent over the past 12 months, the largest over-the-year advance in the series, which was first published in September 1984..."

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Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of December 10, 2021

Crude Oil Inventories
Crude Oil Inventories

The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on December 10, 2021 was released this morning:

-- Change from Last Week: -4,600,000 Barrels

-- Change from A Year Ago (Y/Y): -71,800,000 Barrels

-- Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 428,300,000 Barrels

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

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


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U.S. Retail And Food Services Sales Report for November 2021

The Commerce Department this morning released advance estimates of U.S. Retail and Food Services Sales for November 2021:

Predicted: +0.5%
Actual: +0.257% (+$1,639,000,000)

The yellow-highlighted percentage above 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 November 2021: $639,829,000,000
  • Change From 12 Months Previous: +18.214% (+$98,582,000,000)

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CHART: Retail Sales - November 2021 Update

CHART: Retail Sales - November 2021 Update

  
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Tuesday, December 14, 2021

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index for November 2021

The National Federation of Independent Business® (NFIB®) released its Small Business Optimism Index for November 2021:

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Predicted: 98.5
Actual: 98.4

  • Change from Previous Month: +0.204% (+0.2 point.)
  • Change from 12 Months Previous: -2.959% (-3.0 points.)


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CHART: NFIB Small Business Optimism Index - November 2021 Update

CHART: NFIB Small Business Optimism Index
November 2021 Update

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From today's report:

"...'As the end of the year nears, the outlook for business conditions is not encouraging to small business owners as lawmakers propose additional mandates and tax increases,' said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. 'Owners are also pessimistic as many continue managing challenges like rampant inflation and supply chain disruptions that are impacting their businesses right now.'..."

-- Owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months decreased one point to a net negative 38%, tied for the 48-year record low reading. This indicator has declined 18 points over the past four months to its lowest reading since November 2012.

-- The net percent of owners raising selling prices increased six points to a net 59% (seasonally adjusted), the highest reading since October 1979.

-- Seasonally adjusted, a net 54% of owners plan price hikes, up three points from October and a 48-year record high reading.

-- Forty-eight percent of owners reported job openings that could not be filled, a decrease of one point from October.

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  • Small business survey questions can be found at the end of today's report.
  • The baseline "100" score is associated with 1986 survey data.
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The previous month's Small Business Optimism Index was 98.2.

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Producer Price Index - Final Demand (PPI-FD) for November 2021

The Producer Price Index - Final Demand (PPI-FD) for November 2021 was released this morning:

Predicted: +0.5%
Actual: +0.8%

Change from 12 months previous:  +9.6%

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

Predicted: +0.5%
Actual: +0.7%

Change from 12 months previous:  +6.9%

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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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From Today's Report:

"...On an unadjusted basis, the final demand index rose 9.6 percent for the 12 months ended in November, the largest advance since 12-month data were first calculated in November 2010..."

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CHART: Producer Price Index - Final Demand (PPI-FD) 12 Month Percent Change November 2021 Update

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Friday, December 10, 2021

Consumer Sentiment: Preliminary Results for December 2021

The University of Michigan's Index of Consumer Sentiment (ICS) -  Preliminary Results for December 2021 was released today:

Predicted: 70.0
  • Actual: 70.4
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  • Change from Previous Month: +4.451% (+3.0 points)
  • Change from 12 Months Previous: -12.763% (-10.3 points)

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  • Final ICS Reading for November 2021: 67.4

  • Final ICS Reading for December 2020: 80.7

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From today's report:

"...Sentiment posted a small overall gain in early December (+4.5%), although it was still nearly identical to the average reading in the prior four months (70.6). The more interesting result was the large disparity between monthly gain among households with incomes in the lowest third (+23.6%) of the income distribution compared with the modest losses among households in the middle (-3.8%) and top third (-4.3%). While small differences in the direction of change are rather common, it is quite unusual to record such a large change in the bottom third: a larger one-month percentage was recorded only once before, a gain of 29.2% in June 1980.

While it is usually assumed that such extreme changes represent an erroneous result due to small samples, in 1980 it was the households in the bottom income third that initially signaled the end of the first part of the double recession in 1980-82, with upper income households following in subsequent months. The core of the renewed optimism among the bottom third was the expectation of income increases of 2.9% during the year ahead; the last time a higher gain for this group was expected was in 1981. This suggests an emerging wage-price spiral that could propel inflation higher in the years ahead.

When directly asked whether inflation or unemployment was the more serious problem facing the nation, 76% selected inflation while just 21% selected unemployment (the balance reported the problems were equal or they couldn't choose). The dominance of inflation over unemployment was true for all income, age, education, region, and political subgroups. While a shift in policy emphasis is necessary, it will be difficult to gauge the right balance between fiscal and monetary policies that both trims inflation and maintains the unemployment rate near its current lows.

The pandemic recession had an impact on personal finances like no other crisis in more than a half century. While consumers' evaluations of their current and prospective financial situation have both declined, for the first time there has been a substantial gap between the two assessments. The decline in how consumers have judged their current financial situation was half as large as the decline in how they judged their future financial prospects. The split is presumably due to the impact of the cash stimulus and unemployment payments. Future financial evaluations have been lessened primarily by rising inflation as nearly half of all consumers expect falling inflation-adjusted incomes during the year ahead. This divergence provided financial support to the holiday spending spree, but in the months ahead many may turn their focus to changes in wages and prices.

The inflationary erosion of living standards are currently reported by one-in-four households, and those inflationary driven cutbacks have continued to spread to middle age, middle income, and middle educational groups..."

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 CHART: Current and Expected Change in Personal Finances

CHART: Current and Expected
Change in Personal Finances

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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 those 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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Consumer Price Index (CPI) for November 2021

Earlier this morning, the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for November 2021:


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CPI During November 2021: 277.948

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Predicted: +1.0%
Actual: +0.491% (+1.359 points)

  • Change From 12 Months Previous: +6.809% (+17.719 points)

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The above, yellow-highlighted figures represent the seasonally unadjusted, 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) 12 Month Percentage Change - November 2021 Update


CHART: Consumer Price Index (CPI)
12 Month Percentage Change
 November 2021 Update

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CPI During November 2020: 260.229

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Thursday, December 09, 2021

New Unemployment Insurance Claims for The Week of December 4, 2021

Jobless Claims
Jobless Claims

Earlier today, the Labor Department released its weekly report on New Jobless Insurance Claims for the week that ended on December 4, 2021:

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Predicted: 200,000

  • Actual: 184,000
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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: 218,750

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From Today's Report

"...In the week ending December 4, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 184,000, a decrease of 43,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since September 6, 1969 when it was 182,000. The previous week's level was revised up by 5,000 from 222,000 to 227,000. The 4-week moving average was 218,750, a decrease of 21,250 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since March 7, 2020 [the eve of the COVID-19 pandemic in the USA] when it was 215,250. The previous week's average was revised up by 1,250 from 238,750 to 240,000..."


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Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of December 3, 2021

Crude Oil Inventories
Crude Oil Inventories

The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on December 3, 2021 was released this morning:

-- Change from Last Week: -200,000 Barrels

-- Change from A Year Ago (Y/Y): -70,400,000 Barrels

-- Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 432,900,000 Barrels

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

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


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Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) for October 2021

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS*) for October 2021 was released by the Labor Department this morning:

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Job Openings

Predicted: 11,000,000
Actual:    11,033,000

  • Previous Month (revised): 10,602,000

  • One Year Previous: 6,873,000

  • Change from one year previous: +60.527% (+4,160,000)


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Hires: 6,464,000 

Quits: 4,157,000

Total Separations §: 5,892,000 

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CHART: Job Openings Rate October 2021 Update

CHART: Job Openings Rate
October 2021 Update

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§ = 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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Productivity and Labor Costs Report for Q3 2021 (Revised)

The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) this morning released its quarterly report on Productivity and Unit Labor Costs for the third quarter of 2021 (revised):

Nonfarm Productivity
Predicted: -5.0%
Actual: -5.2%

  • Change from A Year Ago: -0.6%

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Unit Labor Costs
Predicted: +9.0%
Actual: +9.6%

  • Change from A Year Ago: +6.3%

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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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 Chart: Labor Productivity | Q1 2017 Through Q3 2021 (Revised)

Chart: Labor Productivity
Q1 2017 Through Q3 2021 (Revised)

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Chart: Unit Labor Costs | Q1 2017 Through Q3 2021 (Revised)

 Chart: Unit Labor Costs
Q1 2017 Through Q3 2021 (Revised)

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From Today's Report:

"...Nonfarm business sector labor productivity decreased 5.2 percent in the third quarter of 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today, as output increased 1.8 percent and hours worked increased 7.4 percent. This is the largest decline in quarterly productivity since the second quarter of 1960, when the measure decreased 6.1..."

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