Category Archives: Economic Alert

Consumers are in the Driver’s Seat

Real GDP rose a smaller-than-expected 2.6% in the fourth quarter largely due to a surge in consumer spending, which was at least partially offset by a larger-than-expected increase in imports. (Imports subtract from overall GDP growth.) The gains in consumer spending reflect recent increases in employment, incomes and the drop in prices at the pump.

Durable Goods Orders Decline

Durable goods orders unexpectedly dropped 3.4% in December following data revised downward for November; that marks the fourth decline in five months. Headline data were weighed down again by transportation equipment, which has been struggling in recent months.  Even the new orders ex-transportation show a decline of 0.8%. Looking at core capital goods (the best indicator [...]

Existing Home Sales Top Five Million for 2014

Just over five million existing homes were sold in December, in line with expectations. December sales came in higher than November’s, which were revised down slightly. Comparisons for sales and prices were positive as total and single-family sales increased

Housing Starts Bounced Back in December

Housing starts beat expectations, increasing by 46,000 in December from upwardly revised November data. Better weather last month, following an unseasonably cold November, helped overall starts to rebound. Starts in the South, which were hit hardest in November by cold temperatures, came back in December and posted a 41,000 increase.

Industrial Production Better than Headline

Industrial production fell 0.1% in December after surging 1.3% the month prior. Moreover, the fall in production was due to a drop in utilities. We also saw some declines in vehicle production, representing a need to liquidate inventories. Manufacturing, however, still managed to increase

Consumer Price Inflation Falls

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) dropped 0.4% in December, the largest drop since 2008, in large part due to plummeting oil prices. Energy prices outside of the oil and gasoline sectors, however, posted mostly increases, which look to be transitory and will retreat as we move into January. Prices for food moved higher and, outside [...]

Retail Sales Disappoint

Retail sales fell almost one full percentage point in the month of December and were revised lower for the month of November. Falling prices at the gas pump, which pushed down sales another 6.5% during the month, and more than 14% from a year earlier, were the primary culprit. Losses, however, were broad-based with declines [...]

Falling Oil Prices Reduce Trade Deficit

The trade deficit narrowed more than expected again in November, with imports dropping more than exports. A fall in oil imports, due to the sharp drop in energy prices we have seen in recent months, was the primary reason for weakening imports. Exports were hurt by a drop in aircraft shipments,

Mixed Data on Construction and Manufacturing

Construction spending fell 0.3% in November after surging a revised 1.2% in October. A sharp drop in public outlays, which led October gains, accounted for much of the weakness. Residential construction continued to post gains, but off of a low base. Single-family home construction,

Personal Incomes and Outlays, Home Prices Strong

Personal Incomes and Outlays Personal income and expenditures both gained in November, with incomes growing 0.4% and expenditures up 0.6% after both were revised up in October. The Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index decreased 0.2%, while core PCE increased less than 0.1%. That price movement bodes well for consumers this holiday season as shoppers [...]