Category Archives: Economic Alert

Existing Home Sales Highest Since September 2013

Existing home sales handily beat expectations in October, coming in at a 5.26 million-unit annualized rate. September data were also revised to the upside. Regionally, strength was broad-based as three of the four regions showed month-to-month increases mostly concentrated in the Midwest and the South. In the Midwest, investors continue to scoop up properties to [...]

There Is More to a Flat CPI than Flat Prices

The index for consumer prices (CPI) was flat in October but 1.7% higher compared to one year ago. On the surface, today’s data suggest that inflationary pressures remain contained. Prices seem to have found a bottom, which may ease some of the worries about deflationary trends that have circulated in recent months; at the very [...]

Single-family Starts Move Higher

Single-family housing starts accounted for 696,000 starts, up 28,000 from September. That, coupled with the fact that the revision brought September’s total into the black by 27,000 bodes well for the economy; single-family homes stimulate much more economic activity than multifamily rental units. On the flipside, multifamily starts came in at 313,000 for October, 57,000 [...]

Consumers Deliver for Halloween

Retail sales rose 0.3% in October, slightly more than expected. U.S. consumers are spending some of the increased income that they are gaining from recent job growth, increased working hours and lower prices at the pump. Indeed, core retail sales, which exclude vehicle and gasoline sales, jumped 0.6% during the month with broad-based gains in [...]

Jobs Data Better than Headline Suggests

Payroll employment increased 214,000 in October with upward revisions for the previous months of 31,000. Moreover, we have seen upward revisions consistently, which means momentum is moving to the upside. Some of the largest gains occurred in low-wage food services and drinking establishments. Some of that increase in employment reflects a move by employers to [...]

Trade Deficit Widens

The trade deficit widened from $40 billion in August to $43 billion in September. Imports were essentially unchanged while exports declined slightly. Exports of industrial materials and supplies, which include telecommunications equipment and capital goods, were particularly weak.

Construction Disappoints, Manufacturing Improves

Construction spending dropped 0.4% in September, after falling a revised 0.5% in August. The weakness in August was less than initially reported but the data were still a disappointment. Losses were concentrated in public sector construction. The private sector also saw some weakness, however, particularly in nonresidential construction. Gains in lodging, food, drinking establishments and [...]

Tipping Point for Wages

The employment cost index rose 0.7% in the third quarter, more than expected after rebounding from the doldrums in the second quarter. The index rose 2.3% from a year ago on the heels of slightly stronger wage growth; benefit costs for employers actually decelerated from a year ago.

Frightening Consumer Spending Data

Personal consumer outlays dropped 0.2% in September from August, reinforcing the negative read that the recent retail sales report provided for us. A shortfall in retail sales in September was one of the factors that triggered a selloff in the stock market earlier this month when traders feared that the U.S. consumer couldn’t play the [...]

Real GDP Holds Strong

Real GDP rose 3.5% in the third quarter after rebounding at a 4.6% pace in the second quarter. We have been trying to regain ground lost to unusually harsh winter weather in the first quarter of the year when real GDP declined by 2.1%. Most components of real GDP decelerated after the catch-up we saw [...]