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Category: Research - Topic: Economics


DJ-BTMU U.S. Business Barometer picked up by 0.3%
Posted: November 20, 2014 at 02:01 PM (Thursday)

For the week ending November 8 2014, the DJ-BTMU U.S. Business Barometer picked up by 0.3 percent to 98.2, after several weeks of weak trend. The recovery in this week’s barometer was driven by both consumption and production indexes. Chain store sales bounced back by 1.5 percent following a 1.6 percent drop in the last week. MBA’s purchase index also rose by 1.1 percent. As to the production side, electric output and truck production posted the largest increases, with rates of 6.7 and 4.2 percent, respectively.

On a year-over-year basis, the barometer showed a gain of 0.9 percent, which compares to an average -3.3 percent decline over the Great Recession (ended in June 2009 according to the NBER). After flat lining in 2006, and declining from 2007 through 2009, the barometer bounced back in 2010 to rise by 3.4 percent, which was the strongest increase since 1994 (+4.0 percent), but not so impressive when compared to an -8.0 percent drop in 2009. The rate of increase for the 2013 slowed to 0.7 percent following 1.5 percent in 2012.

The smoothed version of the barometer, which attempts to account for weekly volatility, remained at 98.1. Its year-over-year growth rate was 0.6 percent.


U.S. Leading Economic Index increased 0.9%
Posted: November 20, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Thursday)

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® (LEI) for the U.S. increased 0.9 percent in October to 105.2 (2004 = 100), following a 0.7 percent increase in September, and no change in August.

The LEI rose sharply in October, with all components gaining over the previous six months. Despite a negative contribution from stock prices in October, and minimal contributions from new orders for consumer goods and average workweek in manufacturing, the LEI suggests the U.S. expansion continues to be strong.

The upward trend in the LEI points to continued economic growth through the holiday season and into early 2015. This is consistent with our outlook for relatively good, but not great, consumer demand over the near term. Going forward, there are continued concerns about slow business investment and lackluster income growth.

The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index® (CEI) for the U.S. increased 0.1 percent in October to 110.2 (2004 = 100), following a 0.3 percent increase in September, and a 0.1 percent increase in August.

The Conference Board Lagging Economic Index® (LAG) for the U.S. declined 0.1 percent in October to 124.9 (2004 = 100), following a 0.1 percent increase in September, and a 0.5 percent increase in August.


Existing-Home Sales increased 1.5 in October
Posted: November 20, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Thursday)

Existing-home sales rose in October for the second straight month and are now above year-over-year levels for the first time in a year, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 1.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.26 million in October from an upwardly-revised 5.18 million in September. Sales are at their highest annual pace since September 2013 (also 5.26 million) and are now above year-over-year levels (2.5 percent from last October) for the first time since last October.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the housing market this year has been a tale of two halves. “Sales activity in October reached its highest annual pace of the year as buyers continue to be encouraged by interest rates at lows not seen since last summer, improving levels of inventory and stabilizing price growth,” he said. “Furthermore, the job market has shown continued strength in the past six months. This bodes well for solid demand to close out the year and the likelihood of additional months of year-over-year sales increases.”

The median existing-home price for all housing types in October was $208,300, which is 5.5 percent above October 2013. This marks the 32nd consecutive month of year-over-year price gains.

Total housing inventory at the end of October fell 2.6 percent to 2.22 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 5.1-month supply at the current sales pace – the lowest since March (also 5.1 months). Unsold inventory is now 5.2 percent higher than a year ago, when there were 2.11 million existing homes available for sale.

“The growth in housing supply this year will likely prevent the drastic sales slowdown and coinciding spike in home prices we saw last winter due to low inventory,” says Yun. “However, more housing starts are needed to increase supply, meet current demand and keep price growth in check.”

All-cash sales were 27 percent of transactions in October, up from 24 percent in September but down from 31 percent in October of last year. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 15 percent of homes in October, up from 14 percent last month but below October 2013 (19 percent). Sixty-five percent of investors paid cash in October.

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage in October dropped to 4.03 percent, its lowest level since June 2013 (4.07 percent), and down from 4.16 percent in September.

The percent share of first-time buyers in October remained at 29 percent for the fourth consecutive month; first-time buyers have represented less than 30 percent of all buyers in 18 of the past 19 months. A separate NAR survey released earlier this month revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers fell to its lowest level in nearly three decades.

Distressed homes – foreclosures and short sales – were in the single-digits for the third month this year, decreasing to 9 percent in October from 10 percent in September; they were 14 percent a year ago. Seven percent of October sales were foreclosures and 2 percent were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 15 percent below market value in October (14 percent in September), while short sales were discounted 10 percent (14 percent in September).

“Although distressed sales are trending downward, there are still areas (such as judicial states Florida, Maryland and New York) plagued by foreclosures, and homeowners faced with the awful choice between a tax bill they are unable to pay and losing their home,” says NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark. “Realtors® urge the U.S. House to schedule a vote on “The Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act,” as soon as possible. This bipartisan legislation would extend an expired provision that has helped millions of distressed American families by allowing tax relief when lenders forgive a portion of the mortgage debt they owe.”

Properties typically stayed on the market in October longer (63 days) than last month (56 days) and a year ago (54 days). Short sales were on the market for a median of 150 days in October, while foreclosures sold in 68 days and non-distressed homes took 61 days. Thirty-three percent of homes sold in October were on the market for less than a month.

Single-family home sales increased 1.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.63 million in October from 4.57 million in September, and are now 2.9 percent above the 4.50 million pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $208,700 in October, up 5.6 percent from October 2013.

Existing condominium and co-op sales increased 3.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 630,000 units in October from 610,000 in September, unchanged from the 630,000 unit pace a year ago. The median existing condo price was $205,400 in October, which is 4.5 percent higher than a year ago.


Philadelphia August Outlook Suggest Pickup in Growth
Posted: November 20, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Thursday)

The survey’s broadest measure of manufacturing conditions, the diffusion index of current activity, increased from 20.7 in October to 40.8 this month and has now been positive for nine consecutive months (see Chart). This was the highest reading since December 1993. The percentage of firms reporting increased activity this month (49 percent) was significantly greater than the percentage reporting decreased activity (9 percent).

Both the current new orders and shipments indexes rose from their readings in October. The current new orders index, which reflects the demand for manufactured goods, increased 18 points, to 35.7. Over 44 percent of the firms reported a rise in new orders, compared with 36 percent last month.

Labor market indicators showed improvement this month. The current employment index rose 10 points in November, to 22.4, and hit a 3½ year high. Twenty-nine percent of the firms reported increases in employment compared with 20 percent that reported increased employment last month. Firms also reported higher work hours, with the average workweek index rising from -1.3 to 7.8 this month.
Price Indexes Moderate

Both the prices paid and prices received diffusion indexes moderated this month. Input price pressures were reported to be less than last month: The prices paid index fell 10 points to 17.3 this month. Twenty-one percent of the firms reported higher prices paid this month compared with 29 percent last month. Reflecting the prices of their own manufactured goods, the prices received index decreased 9 points from October. The percent of firms reporting higher prices (19 percent) exceeded the percentage reporting lower prices (8 percent), but 72 percent of the firms reported steady prices.
Six-Month Indicators Reflect Continued Optimism

The survey’s future indicators suggest optimism for continued growth. This month, the future general activity index rose 3 points, to 57.7 (see Chart). Nearly 60 percent of the firms expect increases in activity over the next six months; only 2 percent of the firms indicated that they expect decreases over the next six months. The indexes for future new orders and shipments also remained at relatively high levels but fell slightly. The future employment index rose almost 4 points to 31.5, with nearly 40 percent of the firms expecting to increase employment over the next six months.
Special Questions Show Improved Employment Plans

In special questions this month, manufacturers were asked to provide details about expected changes in employment over the next 12 months, including factors influencing these changes. Nearly 56 percent of the firms expect to increase their employment over the next 12 months (see Special Questions). This represents a steady increase since January 2013. When firms were asked to rank the three most important factors influencing their future hiring plans, expected sales growth was the most cited factor and also deemed the most important individual factor. The need for skills not possessed by current staff and having an overworked current staff were the next highest ranked factors influencing hiring plans. When asked about factors restraining hiring plans, “to keep operating costs low” was the most cited among the top three factors, but “cannot find workers with required skills” was the most frequently cited most important factor. Firms were also asked about how the Affordable Care Act was influencing their plans for hiring: Seventy percent of the firms indicated that no changes were made in overall staffing because of the law; 11 percent of the firms indicated that they had reduced full-time hiring; 8 percent indicated that they have increased the use of contract workers. Almost 8 percent of the firms were not affected by the employer mandate.
Summary

The November Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey indicated a pickup in the growth of the region’s manufacturing sector. Firms reported continued increases in overall activity, new orders, shipments, and employment this month. The survey’s future activity indexes remained at high readings, suggesting continued optimism about manufacturing growth. Firms were more optimistic about employment increases over the next six to 12 months.


Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims Decrease 2,000 to 291,000
Posted: November 20, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Thursday)

In the week ending November 15, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 291,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 3,000 from 290,000 to 293,000. The 4-week moving average was 287,500, an increase of 1,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 750 from 285,000 to 285,750. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.8 percent for the week ending November 8, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending November 8 was 2,330,000, a decrease of 73,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for insured unemployment since December 16, 2000 when it was 2,322,000. The previous week's level was revised up 11,000 from 2,392,000 to 2,403,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,369,000, a decrease of 6,250 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since January 13, 2001 when it was 2,360,500. The previous week's average was revised up by 2,750 from 2,372,500 to 2,375,250.


Consumer Price Index unch% in October, Ex Fd & Engy up 0.2%
Posted: November 20, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Thursday)

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) was unchanged in October on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 1.7 percent before seasonal adjustment.

Gasoline and other energy indexes declined, offsetting increases in shelter and an array of other indexes to leave the seasonally adjusted all items index unchanged. The gasoline index fell for the fourth month in a row, declining 3.0 percent, and the indexes for natural gas and fuel oil also decreased. The food index rose slightly in October, with major grocery store food groups mixed.

The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.2 percent in October. Besides the shelter index, airline fares, household furnishings and operations, medical care, recreation, personal care, tobacco, and new vehicles were among the indexes that increased. The indexes for used cars and trucks and for apparel declined in October.

The all items index increased 1.7 percent over the last 12 months, the same increase as for the 12 months ending September. The index for all items less food and energy increased 1.8 percent over the span, and the food index rose 3.1 percent. In contrast, the energy index declined 1.6 percent over the last 12 months.


Real Average Hourly Earnings rose 0.1% in October
Posted: November 20, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Thursday)

Real average hourly earnings for all employees rose 0.1 percent from September to October, seasonally adjusted, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. This result stems from a 0.1 percent increase in average hourly earnings combined with no change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U).

Real average weekly earnings increased 0.4 percent over the month due to the increase in real average hourly earnings combined with a 0.3 percent increase in the average workweek.

Real average hourly earnings increased 0.4 percent, seasonally adjusted, from October 2013 to October 2014. This increase in real average hourly earnings, combined with a 0.6 percent increase in the average workweek, resulted in a 0.9 percent increase in real average weekly earnings over this period.


September Housing Starts down 2.8%, Permits up 4.8%
Posted: November 19, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Wednesday)

BUILDING PERMITS
Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in October were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,080,000. This is 4.8 percent (±1.3%) above the revised September rate of 1,031,000 and is 1.2 percent (±1.2%) above the October 2013 estimate of 1,067,000. Single-family authorizations in October were at a rate of 640,000; this is 1.4 percent (±1.2%) above the revised September figure of 631,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 406,000 in October.

HOUSING STARTS
Privately-owned housing starts in October were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,009,000. This is 2.8 percent (±10.0%) below the revised September estimate of 1,038,000, but is 7.8 percent (±8.7%) above the October 2013 rate of 936,000. Single-family housing starts in October were at a rate of 696,000; this is 4.2 percent (±8.8%) above the revised September figure of 668,000. The October rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 300,000.

HOUSING COMPLETIONS
Privately-owned housing completions in October were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 881,000. This is 8.8 percent (±14.7%) below the revised September estimate of 966,000, but is 8.1 percent (±13.0%) above the October 2013 rate of 815,000.


Purchase Apps up, Refi's up in Latest MBA Weekly Survey
Posted: November 19, 2014 at 07:00 AM (Wednesday)

Mortgage applications increased 4.9 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending November 14, 2014. This week’s results included an adjustment for the Veterans Day holiday.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 4.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 7 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index increased 1 percent from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 12 percent from one week earlier to the highest level since July 2014. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 3 percent compared with the previous week and was 6 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 61 percent of total applications from 63 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 6.9 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 9.9 percent this week from 9.6 percent last week. The VA share of total applications increased to 11.5 percent this week from 11.0 percent last week. The USDA share of total applications fell to 0.8 percent this week from 0.9 percent last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) decreased to 4.18 percent from 4.19 percent, with points decreasing to 0.24 from 0.26 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) decreased to 4.10 percent from 4.13 percent, with points increasing to 0.16 from 0.15 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA decreased to 3.85 percent from 3.90 percent, with points increasing to 0.18 from 0.14 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages remained unchanged from 3.38 percent, with points increasing to 0.27 from 0.22 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs increased to 3.09 percent from 3.05 percent, with points increasing to 0.34 from 0.32 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.


Treasury International Capital Data for September 2014
Posted: November 18, 2014 at 04:00 PM (Tuesday)

The U.S. Department of the Treasury today released Treasury International Capital (TIC) data for September 2014. The sum total in September of all net foreign acquisitions of long-term securities, short-term U.S. securities, and banking flows was a monthly net TIC outflow of $55.6 billion. Of this, net foreign private outflows were $46.1 billion, and net foreign official outflows were $9.5 billion.

Foreign residents increased their holdings of long-term U.S. securities in September; net purchases were $94.2 billion. Net purchases by private foreign investors were $80.5 billion, while net purchases by foreign official institutions were $13.7 billion. U.S. residents decreased their holdings of long-term foreign securities, with net sales of $70.1billion.

Taking into account transactions in both foreign and U.S. securities, net foreign purchases of long-term securities were $164.3 billion. After including adjustments, such as estimates of unrecorded principal payments to foreigners on U.S. asset-backed securities, overall net foreign purchases of long-term securities are estimated to have been $152.7 billion in September.

Foreign residents decreased their holdings of U.S. Treasury bills by $16.2 billion. Foreign resident holdings of all dollar-denominated short-term U.S. securities and other custody liabilities decreased by $22.2 billion. Banks' own net dollar-denominated liabilities to foreign residents decreased by $186.1 billion.


Builder Confidence rose 4 points in October to 58
Posted: November 18, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Tuesday)

Builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes rose four points to a level of 58 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released today.

Growing confidence among consumers is what’s fueling this optimism among builders. Members in many areas of the country continue to see increasing buyer traffic and signed contracts.

Low interest rates, affordable home prices and solid job creation are contributing to a steady housing recovery. After a slow start to the year, the HMI has remained above the 50-point benchmark for five consecutive months, and we expect the momentum to continue into 2015.”

All three HMI components increased in November. The index gauging current sales conditions rose five points to 62, while the index measuring expectations for future sales moved up two points to 66 and the index gauging traffic of prospective buyers increased four points to 45.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast rose three points to 44, the South posted a four-point gain to 62, and the West edged up one point to 58. The Midwest registered a two-point loss to 57.


Producer Price Index rose 0.2% in October, ex Fd & Engy down 0.1%
Posted: November 18, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Tuesday)

The Producer Price Index for final demand rose 0.2 percent in October, seasonally adjusted, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. This increase followed a 0.1-percent decline in September and no change in August. On an unadjusted basis, the index for final demand advanced 1.5 percent for the 12 months ended in October, the smallest 12-month increase since a 1.2-percent rise in February 2014.

In October, the 0.2-percent rise in final demand prices can be traced to the index for final demand services, which advanced 0.5 percent. In contrast, prices for final demand goods moved down 0.4 percent.

Within intermediate demand, prices for processed goods declined 0.9 percent, the index for unprocessed goods fell 2.4 percent, and prices for services inched up 0.1 percent.


ICSC Chain Store Sales increased by 0.2% in Nov 15 Wk
Posted: November 18, 2014 at 07:45 AM (Tuesday)

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Index increased 2.2% for the week ending November 15 - relative to the prior year. On a week-over-week basis, sales increased by 0.2%.

"Gas prices have declined by 81 cents per gallon since early July - which I estimate has saved consumers around $90 billion of expenditure at an annual rate," said Michael Niemira, ICSC research consultant. "The savings should help lift holiday sales," he added.


Forecasters Steady Outlook for Growth with Improved Outlook for Labor Market
Posted: November 17, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Monday)

The outlook for growth in the U.S. economy over the next four years is little changed from the survey of three months ago, according to 42 forecasters surveyed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. The forecasters predict real GDP will grow at an annual rate of 2.7 percent this quarter and 2.8 percent next quarter. On an annual-average over annual-average basis, real GDP will grow 2.2 percent in 2014, up slightly from the previous estimate of 2.1 percent. The forecasters predict real GDP will grow 3.0 percent in 2015, 2.9 percent in 2016, and 2.7 percent in 2017.

An improved outlook for the unemployment rate accompanies the outlook for growth. The forecasters predict the unemployment rate will be an annual average of 6.2 percent in 2014, before falling to 5.6 percent in 2015, 5.4 percent in 2016, and 5.2 percent in 2017. The projections for 2014, 2015, and 2017 are a little below those of the last survey. The projection for 2016 remains unchanged.

On the jobs front, the panelists have revised upward their estimates for job gains in the next two quarters. The forecasters see nonfarm payroll employment growing at a rate of 221,600 jobs per month this quarter and 211,200 jobs per month next quarter. The forecasters' projections for the annual-average level of nonfarm payroll employment suggest job gains at a monthly rate of 206,400 in 2014 and 212,300 in 2015, as the table below shows.


Industrial Production edged down 0.1%
Capacity Utilization decreased 0.3% to 78.9%

Posted: November 17, 2014 at 09:15 AM (Monday)

Industrial production edged down 0.1 percent in October after having advanced 0.8 percent in September. In October, manufacturing output increased 0.2 percent for the second consecutive month. The index for mining declined 0.9 percent and the output of utilities moved down 0.7 percent. At 104.9 percent of its 2007 average, total industrial production in October was 4.0 percent above its level of a year earlier. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector decreased 0.3 percentage point in October to 78.9 percent, a rate that is 1.2 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2013) average.


Empire State Manufacturing Survey Conditions continue to expand
Posted: November 17, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Monday)

The November 2014 Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that business activity continued to expand for New York manufacturers. The headline general business conditions index climbed four points to 10.2, indicating a pace of growth somewhat faster than last month’s. The new orders index rose eleven points to 9.1, and the shipments index advanced eleven points to 11.8. The index for number of employees edged down to 8.5 but remained positive, indicating that employment levels grew; the average workweek index, by contrast, was negative, pointing to a decline in hours worked. After falling sharply last month, the prices paid index was little changed at 10.6—a sign that input prices had increased only modestly. The prices received index fell to zero, indicating that selling prices were flat. Indexes for the six-month outlook were generally higher this month and conveyed a strong degree of optimism about future business conditions.

Business Conditions Continue to Improve
Rising four points to 10.2, the general business conditions index signaled that business activity continued to expand for New York manufacturers in November, and at a somewhat faster pace than last month. Nonetheless, the October and November readings for this index point to a downshift in the pace of growth compared with the May-September period, when the index averaged around 20. About 35 percent of respondents reported that conditions had improved over the month, while 24 percent reported that conditions had worsened. The new orders index bounced back into positive territory after dipping below zero last month; its eleven-point rise, to 9.1, pointed to a modest increase in orders. The shipments index also recovered from a sharp decline last month, climbing eleven points to 11.8. The unfilled orders index remained negative, falling three points to -7.5. The delivery time index, down four points to -9.6, indicated that delivery times were shorter, and the inventories index, at zero, suggested that inventory levels were unchanged.

Selling Prices Flat This Month
The prices paid index inched down to 10.6, its lowest level in more than two years, pointing to a fairly slow pace of growth in input prices. The prices received index recorded its lowest reading in a year, falling seven points to zero in a sign that selling prices were flat. The index for number of employees edged down to 8.5, indicating a modest increase in employment levels. At -7.5, the average workweek index reflected a decline in hours worked for a second consecutive month.

Optimism about Future Conditions Remains Strong
Indexes assessing the six-month outlook generally rose this month, and conveyed considerable optimism about future business activity. The index for future general business conditions climbed six points to 47.6, its highest level since January 2012. The future new orders index rose five points to 47.0, and the future shipments index rose two points to 44.7. The index for expected number of employees jumped twelve points to 24.5, and the future average workweek index advanced to 8.5. The capital expenditures index moved up six points to 27.7, its highest level in more than two years, and the technology spending index rose to 19.2.


Business Inventories up 0.3% in September
Posted: November 14, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Friday)

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that the combined value of distributive trade sales and manufacturers’ shipments for September, adjusted for seasonal and trading-day differences but not for price changes, was estimated at $1,352.5 billion, virtually unchanged (±0.3%)* from August 2014, but were up 4.1 percent (±0.6%) from September 2013.

Manufacturers’ and trade inventories, adjusted for seasonal variations but not for price changes, were estimated at an end-of-month level of $1,756.1 billion, up 0.3 percent (±0.1%) from August 2014 and up 5.3 percent (±0.5%) from September 2013.

The total business inventories/sales ratio based on seasonally adjusted data at the end of September was 1.30. The September 2013 ratio was 1.28.


U.S. Import Price Index declined 1.3% in October
Posted: November 14, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Friday)

The price index for U.S. imports decreased 1.3 percent in October following a 0.6-percent decline in September, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The October drop was mostly led by falling fuel prices. U.S. export prices declined 1.0 percent in October, after falling 0.4 percent in September and 0.5 percent in August.


U.S. Retail Sales for August increase 0.3%, Ex-Auto up 0.3%
Posted: November 14, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Friday)

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for October, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $444.5 billion, an increase of 0.3 percent (±0.5%) from the previous month, and 4.1 percent (±0.9%) above October 2013. Total sales for the August through October 2014 period were up 4.5 percent (±0.7%) from the same period a year ago. The August to September 2014 percent change was unrevised from -0.3% (±0.2%).

Retail trade sales were up 0.3 percent (±0.5%) from September 2014, and 3.8 percent (±0.7%) above last year. Nonstore retailers were up 9.1 percent (±2.1%) from October 2013 and auto and other motor vehicle dealers were up 8.3 percent (±3.0%) from last year.


Job Openings were 4.7 million in September
Posted: November 13, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Thursday)

There were 4.7 million job openings on the last business day of September, little changed from 4.9 million in August, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Hires (5.0 million) and separations (4.8 million) increased in September. Within separations, the quits rate (2.0 percent) increased and the layoffs and discharges rate (1.2 percent) was unchanged. This release includes estimates of the number and rate of job openings, hires, and separations for the nonfarm sector by industry and by four geographic regions.

There were 4.7 million job openings on the last business day of September. The job openings rate was 3.3 percent. The number of job openings was little changed for total private and government in September. The level of job openings decreased for arts, entertainment, and recreation. The job openings level was little changed in all four regions.

The number of job openings (not seasonally adjusted) increased over the 12 months ending in September for total nonfarm, total private, and government. The job openings level increased over the year for many industries, including both professional and business services and health care and social assistance. The number of openings also increased over the year in all four regions.


DJ-BTMU U.S. Business Barometer slipped by 0.2%
Posted: November 13, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Thursday)

For the week ending November 1 2014, the DJ-BTMU U.S. Business Barometer slipped by 0.2 percent to 97.9, falling to its lowest level since June 2014. The biggest factor that contributed to this week’s barometer was chain store sales, which dipped by 1.6 percent, mainly owing to a big falloff in furniture stores and a moderate decline in office and grocery stores. However, this tumble was partially offset by gains in other indexes. For instance, MBA’s purchase index rose by 2.6 percent, while electric output picked up by 1.7 percent.

On a year-over-year basis, the barometer showed a gain of 0.6 percent, which compares to an average -3.3 percent decline over the Great Recession (ended in June 2009 according to the NBER). After flat lining in 2006, and declining from 2007 through 2009, the barometer bounced back in 2010 to rise by 3.4 percent, which was the strongest increase since 1994 (+4.0 percent), but not so impressive when compared to an -8.0 percent drop in 2009. The rate of increase for the 2013 slowed to 0.7 percent following 1.5 percent in 2012.

The smoothed version of the barometer, which attempts to account for weekly volatility, fell by 0.1 percent to 98.0. Its year-over-year growth rate was 0.6 percent.


Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims Increase 12,000 to 290,000
Posted: November 13, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Thursday)

In the week ending November 8, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 290,000, an increase of 12,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 278,000. The 4-week moving average was 285,000, an increase of 6,000 from the previous week's unrevised average of 279,000. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.8 percent for the week ending November 1, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending November 1 was 2,392,000, an increase of 36,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 8,000 from 2,348,000 to 2,356,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,372,500, an increase of 750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 2,000 from 2,369,750 to 2,371,750.


Wholesale Inventories up 0.3% in September
Posted: November 12, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Wednesday)

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that September 2014 sales of merchant wholesalers, except manufacturers’ sales branches and offices, after adjustment for seasonal variations and trading-day differences but not for price changes, were $454.3 billion, up 0.2 percent (+/-0.9)* from the revised August level and were up 5.2 percent (+/-1.6%) from the September 2013 level. The August preliminary estimate was revised downward $0.4 billion or 0.1 percent. September sales of durable goods were up 0.5 percent (+/-0.9%)* from last month and were up 5.4 percent (+/-1.6%) from a year ago. Sales of hardware and plumbing and heating equipment and supplies were up 4.8 percent from last month and sales of lumber and other construction materials were up 1.8 percent. Sales of nondurable goods were down 0.1 percent (+/-1.4%)* from August, but were up 5.1 percent (+/-3.0%) from last September. Sales of paper and paper products were down 2.6 percent from last month, while sales of apparel, piece goods, and notions were up 4.0 percent.

Total inventories of merchant wholesalers, except manufacturers’ sales branches and offices, after adjustment for seasonal variations but not for price changes, were $538.8 billion at the end of September, up 0.3 percent (+/-0.4%)* from the revised August level and were up 7.4 percent (+/-0.9%) from the September 2013 level. The August preliminary estimate was revised downward $0.6 billion or 0.1 percent. September inventories of durable goods were up 0.8 percent (+/-0.4%) from last month and were up 9.0 percent (+/-1.4%) from a year ago. Inventories of computer and computer peripheral equipment and software were up 3.4 percent from last month and inventories of metals and minerals, except petroleum, were up 1.8 percent. Inventories of nondurable goods were were down 0.6% (+/-0.4%) from August, but were up 4.9 percent (+/-0.7%) from last September. Inventories of petroleum and petroleum products were down 5.3 percent from last month and inventories of farm product raw materials were down 3.0 percent.

The Septmber inventories/sales ratio for merchant wholesalers, except manufacturers’ sales branches and offices, based on seasonally adjusted data, was 1.19. The September 2013 ratio was 1.16.


NFIB Small Business Optimism Index gained 0.8 points to 96.1
Posted: November 12, 2014 at 07:30 AM (Wednesday)

The Small Business Optimism Index gained 0.8 points, restoring the August reading of 96.1, either a strong recession reading or a weak expansion reading, no clear direction. The average of the Index from 1974Q4 to 2014 to date is 98, which includes all the Great Recession readings. The responses to the ten Index component questions would have to improve by a net 20 percentage points just to get to the average. Overall, the Index and its components anticipate more of the same, for employment growth and for Gross Domestic Spending (GDP less exports), a more relevant measure for small business owners.

Voters and non-voters sent a clear message last Tuesday. For those who voted, most didn’t approve of the status quo. For those who didn’t vote, they weren’t persuaded to endorse any candidate. The question is, how much can the Republicans get done with the President holding his veto pen at the ready. Some of his supporters have counseled him to veto everything the Republican Congress sends his way. That would certainly be bad for the economy. There are over 300 bills sitting in the Senate that were passed by the House over the past 6 years, many by bipartisan majorities. But, if the President won’t negotiate, all Congress can do is pass them and send them to the Oval Office.

In his campaigning, the President touted his economic record. Apparently he and with many of us, can’t remember what “good times” really look like. The economy grew at a surprising 3.5 percent pace in Q3, distinctive in comparison to the 2.2 percent growth recorded to date in this expansion. However, the domestic economy did not enjoy that much strength, with Gross Domestic Expenditures (GDP-Exports) growing only 2.1 percent and consumer spending advancing at a 1.8 percent pace, down from 2.5 percent in the second quarter. Job gains remained mediocre but steady, touted by many as good, but those unemployed since 2007 would not share in the applause. Net exports added 1.3 percentage points to the growth rate great for the big firms, but the latest trade data now indicate a downward revision of 0.5 percentage points. The surge in government spending, mostly in defense, added 0.8 percentage points, but is not likely to repeat next quarter. So the basic domestic economy remained operating in the 2.2 percent growth range, and that’s the economy that matters to small businesses. It will be interesting to see if there are any “psychological” impacts after the election. Obviously there are about as many disappointed voters as happy ones. But business owners who characterize the current as a “bad time to expand” their business have blamed the “political climate” at elevated rates, second only to blaming the weak economy. It will be interesting to see if this abates in the November survey, and even better, if there are signs of renewed strength in capital spending plans.


Purchase Apps down, Refi's down in Latest MBA Weekly Survey
Posted: November 12, 2014 at 07:00 AM (Wednesday)

Mortgage applications decreased 0.9 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending Nov. 7, 2014.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 0.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased two percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased two percent from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased one percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased two percent compared with the previous week and was 11 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

The refinance share of mortgage activity remained unchanged at 63 percent of total applications from the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 7.1 percent of total applications, the lowest level since January 2014.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 9.6 percent this week from 9.5 percent last week. The VA share of total applications increased to 11 percent this week from 10.7 percent last week. The USDA share of total applications remained unchanged at 0.9 percent this week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) increased to 4.19 percent from 4.17 percent, with points increasing to 0.26 from 0.22 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) remained unchanged at 4.13 percent, with points increasing to 0.15 from 0.11 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA increased to 3.90 percent from 3.84 percent, with points decreasing to 0.14 from 0.34 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate remained unchanged from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages remained unchanged at 3.38 percent, with points decreasing to 0.22 from 0.31 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs decreased to 3.05 percent from 3.08 percent, with points decreasing to 0.32 from 0.33 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.


ICSC Chain Store Sales increased by 1.5% in Nov 8 Wk
Posted: November 11, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Tuesday)

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Index increased 2.1% for the week ending November 8 - relative to the prior year. On a week-over-week basis, sales increased by 1.5%.

"Department and electronics stores lead the way this week," said Michael Niemira, ICSC research consultant. "Consumers are still seeing a huge break at the gas pump, with the average price per gallon hitting its lowest point since November 29, 2010 - something that certainly bodes well for the upcoming holiday shopping season as more discretionary income should be available," he added.


Employment Trends Index increased in October to 123.09
Posted: November 10, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Monday)

The Conference Board Employment Trends Index™ (ETI) increased in October. The index now stands at 123.09, up from 121.91 (an upward revision) in September. This represents a 7.7 percent gain in the ETI compared to a year ago.

The Employment Trends Index continues to increase rapidly, with all eight components improving in October. The index is signaling solid job growth through the winter. As a result, we could see the unemployment rate reach its natural rate of 5.5 percent by early Spring.

October’s increase in the ETI was driven by positive contributions from all eight components. In order from the largest positive contributor to the smallest, these were: Percentage of Firms With Positions Not Able to Fill Right Now, Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance, Ratio of Involuntarily Part-time to All Part-time Workers, Number of Temporary Employees, Industrial Production, Percentage of Respondents Who Say They Find “Jobs Hard to Get,” Real Manufacturing and Trade Sales, and Job Openings.


Consumer Credit Increased at an annual rate of 6.50%
Posted: November 7, 2014 at 03:00 PM (Friday)

Consumer credit increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6-1/2 percent during the third quarter. Revolving credit increased at an annual rate of 3 percent, while nonrevolving credit increased at an annual rate of 8 percent. In September, consumer credit increased at an annual rate of 6 percent.


October Employment increased by 214,000
Unemployment Rate dropped to 5.8%

Posted: November 7, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Friday)

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 214,000 in October, and the unemployment
rate edged down to 5.8 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment increased in food services and drinking places, retail trade, and health care.

Both the unemployment rate (5.8 percent) and the number of unemployed persons (9.0 million) edged down in October. Since the beginning of the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons have declined by 0.8 percentage point and 1.2 million, respectively.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for whites declined to 4.8 percent in October. The rates for adult men (5.1 percent), adult women (5.4 percent), teenagers (18.6 percent), blacks (10.9 percent), and Hispanics (6.8 percent) changed little over the month. The jobless rate for Asians was 5.0 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier.

In October, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 2.9 million. These individuals accounted for 32.0 percent of the unemployed. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed has declined by 1.1 million.

The civilian labor force participation rate was little changed at 62.8 percent in October and has been essentially flat since April. The employment-population ratio increased to 59.2 percent in October.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was about unchanged in October at 7.0 million. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

In October, 2.2 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, little changed from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 770,000 discouraged workers in October, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.4 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in October had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 214,000 in October, in line with the average monthly gain of 222,000 over the prior 12 months. In October, job growth occurred in food services and drinking places, retail trade, and health care.

In October, the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged up by 0.1 hour to 34.6 hours. The manufacturing workweek was unchanged at 40.8 hours, and factory overtime edged down by 0.1 hour to 3.4 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged up by 0.1 hour to 33.8 hours.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 3 cents to $24.57 in October. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.0 percent. In October, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 4 cents to $20.70.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for August was revised from +180,000 to +203,000, and the change for September was revised from +248,000 to +256,000. With these revisions, employment gains in August and September combined were 31,000 more than previously reported.


DJ-BTMU U.S. Business Barometer unch%
Posted: November 6, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Thursday)

For the week ending October 25 2014, the DJ-BTMU U.S. Business Barometer remained at the same level, 98.1, from the prior week as gains in some indexes were entirely cancelled out by drops in others. On one side, electric output and coal production declined by 1.7 and 4.3 percent, respectively, in line with a sharp drop of 5 percent in MBA’s purchase index. However, on the other side, chain store sales picked up by 0.3 percent, after declining for two consecutive weeks. Auto and truck production also rose by 0.5 and 2.1 percent, respectively.

On a year-over-year basis, the barometer showed a gain of 0.7 percent, which compares to an average -3.3 percent decline over the Great Recession (ended in June 2009 according to the NBER). After flat lining in 2006, and declining from 2007 through 2009, the barometer bounced back in 2010 to rise by 3.4 percent, which was the strongest increase since 1994 (+4.0 percent), but not so impressive when compared to an -8.0 percent drop in 2009. The rate of increase for the 2013 slowed to 0.7 percent following 1.5 percent in 2012.

The smoothed version of the barometer, which attempts to account for weekly volatility, fell by 0.1 percent to 98.1. Its year-over-year growth rate was 0.8 percent.


3Q2014 Productivity Growth Increased 2.0%
Posted: November 6, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Thursday)

Nonfarm business sector labor productivity increased at a 2.0 percent annual rate during the third quarter of 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today, as output increased 4.4 percent and hours worked increased 2.3 percent. (All quarterly percent changes in this release are seasonally adjusted annual rates.) From the third quarter of 2013 to the third quarter of 2014, productivity rose 0.9 percent as output and hours worked increased 3.0 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively.

Unit labor costs in the nonfarm business sector rose 0.3 percent in the third quarter of 2014, as a 2.3 percent increase in hourly compensation was larger than the 2.0 percent increase in productivity. Unit labor costs increased 2.4 percent over the last four quarters.

Manufacturing sector productivity increased 3.2 percent in the third quarter of 2014, as output increased 4.1 percent and hours worked increased 0.8 percent. In the durable goods manufacturing sector, productivity grew 4.2 percent, reflecting a 6.6 percent increase in output and a 2.3 percent increase in hours. In nondurable goods industries, productivity grew 3.0 percent, as output increased 1.2 percent and hours worked fell 1.8 percent. Over the last four quarters, manufacturing productivity increased 2.8 percent, as output increased 4.4 percent and hours increased 1.5 percent. Unit labor costs in manufacturing decreased 0.7 percent in the third quarter of 2014 and increased 0.6 percent from the same quarter a year ago.

In the second quarter of 2014, nonfarm business sector productivity increased 2.9 percent, rather than 2.3 percent as reported September 4. The revised figure reflects an upward revision to output and a small downward revision to hours worked. Unit labor costs decreased 0.5 percent during the second quarter--rather than decreasing 0.1 percent as previously reported--due to the upward revision to productivity. In the manufacturing sector, productivity growth was revised up to 3.5 percent due to both an upward revision to output and a small downward revision to hours. Unit labor costs decreased 1.8 percent, a larger decrease than previously reported.

Second-quarter 2014 measures of productivity and costs were revised for the nonfinancial corporate sector. Productivity increased 4.0 percent rather than the preliminary estimate of 3.1 percent.


Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims Decrease 10,000 to 278,000
Posted: November 6, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Thursday)

In the week ending November 1, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 278,000, a decrease of 10,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 287,000 to 288,000. The 4-week moving average was 279,000, a decrease of 2,250 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since April 29, 2000 when it was 273,000. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 281,000 to 281,250. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.8 percent for the week ending October 25, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending October 25 was 2,348,000, a decrease of 39,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for insured unemployment since December 23, 2000 when it was 2,340,000. The previous week's level was revised up 3,000 from 2,384,000 to 2,387,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,369,750, a decrease of 8,500 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since January 13, 2001 when it was 2,360,500. The previous week's average was revised up by 750 from 2,377,500 to 2,378,250.


Challenger Layoffs surged nearly 70% in October
Posted: November 6, 2014 at 07:00 AM (Thursday)

Just one month after falling to a 14-year low, monthly job cuts surged nearly 70 percent in October to the second highest total this year, according to the report Thursday from global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

U.S.-based employers announced 51,183 job cuts last month, a 68-percent increase from September’s 30,477, which was the lowest monthly total since June, 2000 (17,241). October job cuts were 12 percent higher than the 45,730 layoffs announced during the same month a year ago.

The October total is not only the second highest of the year behind May’s 52,961, but it marks only the fourth time in the last 22 months that job cuts exceeded 50,000.

Employers have now announced 414,591 job cuts so far this year. That is 4.3 percent fewer than last year, when 433,114 job cuts were reported from January through October.

While it is too early to say for certain, the October figure may mark the kick-off to a fourth-quarter surge in job cuts. It is not unusual to see the pace of downsizing accelerate in the final months of the year, as employers take measures to meet year-end earnings and profit goals.

In recent years, since the end of the recession, the fourth quarter surge in job cuts has been somewhat subdued, with much of the increase occurring in October and November. In fact, in the previous two years, December was one of the lowest job-cut months.

October job cuts were led by the retail industry, which announced 6,874 planned layoffs during the month. That is nearly 3.5 times more than the 1,965 job cuts announced by retailers in September. To date, these employers have now announced 38,948 in 2014, second only to the computer industry.

Computer firms announced another 6,509 job cuts in October. That brings the year-to-date total for the industry to 55,511, making it the leading job-cut industry by a wide margin.

If there is any good news in the October job-cut surge, it is that the leading job cuts are not indicative of overall weakness in the economy. The heaviest cuts came from companies that are struggling to find their footing in this recovery. In several cases, downsizing organizations are in industries that are going through fundamental changes and these companies are taking steps to catch up to these changes.

For example, Sears, which announced the closure of 77 Sears and Kmart stores, has been struggling for years to find its niche in an increasingly competitive retail space. The challenges facing the one-time leader in the retail space have gotten progressively worse as more and more consumers take their shopping online.

Meanwhile, Hewlett-Packard, which announced it is increasing previously announced workforce reductions by another 5,000, is another company trying to catch up in an ever-changing, but still robust and competitive technology sector. Likewise, wireless service provider Sprint has undergone large-scale job cuts since the beginning of the year in an effort to better compete in its fiercely competitive sector.


ISM Non-Manufacturing Index grew slower at 57.1%
Posted: November 5, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Wednesday)

Economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in October for the 57th consecutive month, say the nation’s purchasing and supply executives in the latest Non-Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®.

The NMI® registered 57.1 percent in October, 1.5 percentage points lower than the September reading of 58.6 percent. This represents continued growth in the non-manufacturing sector. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index decreased to 60 percent, which is 2.9 percentage points lower than the September reading of 62.9 percent, reflecting growth for the 63rd consecutive month at a slower rate. The New Orders Index registered 59.1 percent, 1.9 percentage points lower than the reading of 61 percent registered in September. The Employment Index increased 1.1 percentage points to 59.6 percent from the September reading of 58.5 percent and indicates growth for the eighth consecutive month. The Prices Index decreased 3.1 percentage points from the September reading of 55.2 percent to 52.1 percent, indicating prices increased at a slower rate in October when compared to September. According to the NMI®, 16 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in October. The majority of the respondents’ comments reflect favorable business conditions; however, there is an indication that there continues to be a leveling off from the strong rate of growth of the preceding months.

INDUSTRY PERFORMANCE
The 16 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in October — listed in order — are: Construction; Retail Trade; Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Wholesale Trade; Transportation & Warehousing; Other Services; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; Management of Companies & Support Services; Educational Services; Information; Health Care & Social Assistance; Mining; Accommodation & Food Services; Utilities; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; and Public Administration. The two industries reporting contraction in October are: Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; and Finance & Insurance.


Help Wanted OnLine Labor Demand rose 11,700 in October
Posted: November 5, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Wednesday)

Online advertised vacancies rose 11,700 to 5,083,600 in October, according to The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL) Data Series, released today. The September Supply/Demand rate stands at 1.83 unemployed for each advertised vacancy, with a total of 4.2 million more unemployed workers than the number of advertised vacancies. The number of unemployed was 9.3 million in September.

“U.S. labor demand continues on a steady, slow growth trend, maintaining historically high demand levels with over 5 million ads each month,” said Gad Levanon, Director of Macroeconomics and Labor Markets at The Conference Board. “The data continue to indicate a strong U.S. labor market.”

In October, the Services/Production occupational category saw a gain, while the Professional category saw a small loss. Sales (22,100) and Transportation (23,800) bounced back from large September losses with most other occupational categories showing just small increases/decreases (See Table 7).


ADP National Employment Report increased by 230,000 in October
Posted: November 5, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Wednesday)

Private sector employment increased by 230,000 jobs from September to October according to the October ADP National Employment Report®. Broadly distributed to the public each month, free of charge, the ADP National Employment Report is produced by ADP®, a leading global provider of Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions, in collaboration with Moody’s Analytics. The report, which is derived from ADP’s actual payroll data, measures the change in total nonfarm private employment each month on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

Payrolls for businesses with 49 or fewer employees increased by 102,000 jobs in October, up from 93,000 in September. Job growth was up dramatically over the month for medium-sized firms. Employment among companies with 50-499 employees rose by 122,000, well over twice September’s increase of 47,000. Employment at large companies – those with 500 or more employees – saw a big drop from 85,000 the previous month to only 5,000 jobs added in October. Companies with 500-999 employees added 14,000 jobs, up from September’s 8,000. However, this increase was offset by the loss of 8,000 jobs by companies with over 1,000 employees.

Goods-producing employment rose by 48,000 jobs in October, down slightly from 50,000 jobs gained in September. The construction industry added 28,000 jobs over the month, above last month’s gain of 13,000. Meanwhile, manufacturing added 15,000 jobs in October, down by over half from September’s 33,000 which was the highest total in that sector since March 2011.

Service-providing employment rose by 181,000 jobs in October, up from 176,000 in September. The ADP National Employment Report indicates that professional/business services contributed 53,000 jobs in October. Expansion in trade/transportation/utilities grew by 47,000, up from September’s 37,000. The 4,000 new jobs added in financial activities was less than half of last month’s number.

Employment continues to trend upward as we begin the last quarter of 2014, driven mostly by small to mid-sized companies. October’s job growth is the highest since June and the second highest gain of 2014.

The job market is steadily picking up pace. Job growth is strong and broad-based across industries and company sizes. At this pace of job growth unemployment and underemployment is quickly declining. The job market will soon be tight enough to support a meaningful acceleration in wage growth.


Purchase Apps down, Refi's down in Latest MBA Weekly Survey
Posted: November 5, 2014 at 07:00 AM (Wednesday)

Mortgage applications decreased 2.6 percent from one week earlier , according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending October 31, 2014.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 2.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 3 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 6 percent from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 3 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 1 percent compared with the previous week and was 13 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 63 percent of total applications from 65 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 7.4 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 9.5 percent this week from 8.9 percent last week. The VA share of total applications remained unchanged at 10.7 percent this week and the USDA share of total applications remained unchanged at 0.9 percent this week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) increased to 4.17 percent from 4.13 percent, with points increasing to 0.22 from 0.21 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) remained unchanged at 4.13 percent, with points decreasing to 0.11 from 0.13 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA remained unchanged at 3.84 percent, with points increasing to 0.34 from 0.16 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 3.38 percent from 3.28 percent, with points increasing to 0.31 from 0.24 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs increased to 3.08 percent from 2.94 percent, with points decreasing to 0.33 from 0.43 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.


New orders for manufactured goods decreased 0.6%
Posted: November 4, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Tuesday)

New orders for manufactured goods in September, down two consecutive months, decreased $2.8 billion or 0.6 percent to $499.4 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today. This followed a 10.0 percent August decrease. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased slightly.

Shipments, up three of the last four months, increased $0.7 billion or 0.1 percent to $503.4 billion. This followed a 1.1 percent August decrease.

Unfilled orders, up seventeen of the last eighteen months, increased $3.7 billion or 0.3 percent to $1,168.7 billion. This was at the highest level since the series was first published on a NAICS basis in 1992 and followed a 0.6 percent August increase. The unfilled orders-to-shipments ratio was 6.71, unchanged from August.

Inventories, up twenty-two of the last twenty-three months, increased $1.5 billion or 0.2 percent to $655.2 billion. This was also at the highest level since the series was first published on a NAICS basis and followed a 0.1 percent August increase. The inventories-to-shipments ratio was 1.30, unchanged from August.


Paychex-IHS Small Business Jobs Index decreased to 100.84 in October
Posted: November 4, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Tuesday)

While the Paychex | IHS Small Business Jobs Index grew 0.23 percent in the past 12 months, the national index remained even for October, coming in at 100.84. Showing no change, the rate of job creation seen in September was consistent through October. Though down 0.25 percent during the past three months, the national index is still in a position of strength, well above the baseline of 100. Employment growth in the Central regions put the West North Central region at the top of the regional index, while Washington took over the lead among the states, and Dallas reclaimed the top spot among metro areas.

The Paychex | IHS Small Business Jobs Index held strong in October as employment growth maintained its momentum to start the fourth quarter.

The year-over-year trend of employment growth continues to be strong for small businesses, despite the index not showing a lot of movement in recent months. Even with the pace of employment varying since the index hit its record high in the spring, small business hiring continues to be stronger than the previous year.


Goods and Services Deficit Increased in Septembert 2014
Posted: November 4, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Tuesday)

The Nation’s international trade deficit in goods and services increased to $43.0 billion in September from $40.0 billion in August (revised), as exports decreased and imports increased.

The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, through the Department of Commerce, announced today that total September exports of $195.6 billion and imports of $238.6 billion resulted in a goods and services deficit of $43.0 billion, up from $40.0 billion in August, revised. September exports were $3.0 billion less than August exports of $198.6 billion. September imports were $0.1 billion more than August imports of $238.6 billion.

In September, the goods deficit increased $2.4 billion from August to $62.7 billion, and the services surplus decreased $0.6 billion from August to $19.6 billion. Exports of goods decreased $2.6 billion to $136.1 billion, and imports of goods decreased $0.1 billion to $198.7 billion. Exports of services decreased $0.4 billion to $59.5 billion, and imports of services increased $0.2 billion to $39.9 billion.

The goods and services deficit increased $0.8 billion from September 2013 to September 2014. Exports were up $5.3 billion, or 2.8 percent, and imports were up $6.1 billion, or 2.6 percent.


New York Purchasing Managers Business Activity fell to 54.8 in October
Posted: November 4, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Tuesday)

New York City business activity expanded at the slowest pace in six months, according to the survey taken by the Institute for Supply Management-New York (ISM-NY).

Current Business Conditions fell to 54.8 in October, close to the long-run average (55-56).

Future optimism, however, improved to an eight-month high. The Six-Month Outlook increased to 71.8 in October.

Job growth revved up again. Employment came in at 64.4 in October, three points off August’s record.

Purchase volume eased to a six-month low. Quantity of Purchases decreased to 53.1 in October.

Price measures moved higher despite lower energy prices. Prices Paid rose to 63.3 in October, and Prices Received increased to 53.3 in October.

The top line and forward guidance both improved. Current Revenues rose to an eight-month high of 71.9 in October, and Expected Revenues increased to 78.1 in October, the highest in at least two years.

*** Potential Business Opportunities/Impediments: Both ends of the opportunities/impediments distribution look similar to results from past months. Cost of benefits was the biggest net impediment and technology was the biggest net opportunity over, at least, the last 15 months.


ICSC Chain Store Sales decreased by 1.6% in Nov 1 Wk
Posted: November 4, 2014 at 07:45 AM (Tuesday)

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Index increased 1.8% for the week ending November 1 - relative to the prior year. On a week-over-week basis, sales decreased by 1.6%.

"Most segments produced modest gains this week, except for electronics which remained quite strong," said Michael Niemira, ICSC research consultant. "Weather seemingly curbed consumer demand in seasonal categories this week. However, as the weather gets cooler - and with the traditional start to the holiday shopping season starting in earnest during the coming week - we should see an uptick in sales," he added.


Construction Spending decreased 0.4% in September
Posted: November 3, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Monday)

The U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce announced today that construction spending during September 2014 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $950.9 billion, 0.4 percent (±2.0%)* below the revised August estimate of $955.2 billion. The September figure is 2.9 percent (±2.1%) above the September 2013 estimate of $924.2 billion. During the first 9 months of this year, construction spending amounted to $710.1 billion, 6.1 percent (±1.3%) above the $669.3 billion for the same period in 2013.

PRIVATE CONSTRUCTION
Spending on private construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $680.0 billion, 0.1 percent (±1.0%)* below the revised August estimate of $680.8 billion. Residential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $349.1 billion in September, 0.4 percent (±1.3%)* above the revised August estimate of $347.7 billion. Nonresidential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $331.0 billion in September, 0.6 percent (±1.0%)* below the revised August estimate of $333.0 billion.

PUBLIC CONSTRUCTION
In September, the estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of public construction spending was $270.9 billion, 1.3 percent (±3.1%)* below the revised August estimate of $274.4 billion. Educational construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $62.8 billion, 0.1 percent (±5.3%)* above the revised August estimate of $62.8 billion. Highway construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $79.9 billion, 3.7 percent (±6.9%)* below the revised August estimate of $82.9 billion.


October Manufacturing ISM expanded at 59.0
Posted: November 3, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Monday)

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in October for the 17th consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 65th consecutive month, say the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®.

The report was issued today by Bradley J. Holcomb, CPSM, CPSD, chair of the Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®) Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. "The October PMI® registered 59 percent, an increase of 2.4 percentage points from September’s reading of 56.6 percent, indicating continued expansion in manufacturing. The New Orders Index registered 65.8 percent, an increase of 5.8 percentage points from the 60 percent reading in September, indicating growth in new orders for the 17th consecutive month. The Production Index registered 64.8 percent, 0.2 percentage point above the September reading of 64.6 percent. The Employment Index grew for the 16th consecutive month, registering 55.5 percent, an increase of 0.9 percentage point above the September reading of 54.6 percent. Inventories of raw materials registered 52.5 percent, an increase of 1 percentage point from the September reading of 51.5 percent, indicating growth in inventories for the third consecutive month. Comments from the panel generally cite positive business conditions, with growth in demand and production volumes."

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 16 are reporting growth in October in the following order: Plastics & Rubber Products; Textile Mills; Fabricated Metal Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Primary Metals; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Chemical Products; Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Printing & Related Support Activities; Transportation Equipment; Furniture & Related Products; Paper Products; Machinery; and Computer & Electronic Products. The only industry reporting contraction in October is Petroleum & Coal Products.


University of Michigan Consumer Confidence increased in October to 86.9
Posted: October 31, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Friday)

Consumer confidence posted its third consecutive monthly gain in October, rising to its highest level since July 2007. The October gain was due to improved personal finances as well as a more favorable outlook for the overall economy. Indeed, consumers reported the most favorable personal financial expectations as well as the most positive year-ahead outlook for the national economy in the past seven years. What the survey did not find was any negative impact on confidence from the global economic slowdown, military conflicts, or Ebola. None of these issues was mentioned by more than a few respondents; instead, respondents emphasized improved wage and employment prospects due to a stronger economy. Gains in holiday spending are expected to be the best in several years, benefitting from higher confidence as well as falling gas prices at the pump.

Economy Expected to Improve
Nearly six-in-ten consumers reported that the economy had recently improved, the most positive rating in more than ten years. When asked about the economic outlook for the year ahead, 45% expected good times financially, up from just 28% a year earlier, and the highest level since July 2007. Consumers anticipated that the continued strength in the economy would produce some additional declines in the national unemployment rate.

Higher Income Gains Expected
In the September and October surveys, more households expected income gains than anytime in the last six years—since September of 2008. Just as importantly, the median increase of 1.1% expected by all households was the highest since late 2008. While still meager, this improvement, along with a decline in the expected inflation rate, meant that more households expected their incomes to keep pace with or to exceed the inflation rate.

The Consumer Sentiment Index was 86.9 in the October 2014 survey, up from 84.6 in September and 73.2 last October. The entire October gain was concentrated in the Expectations Index, which rose to 79.6 from 75.4 one month ago and 62.5 one year ago. Although the Current Conditions Index slipped to 98.3 in October from 98.9 in September, it was well above last October’s 89.9.

Consumers have been gradually regaining their economic footing in the past several months, with confidence rising to the highest level since the start of the Great Recession. This is not the first time such a strong rebound has occurred, but this time it appears to have more forward traction. Consumers have not overreacted to the negative news of a global slowdown or Ebola nor to the positive news of lower gas prices. Instead, consumers have kept their focus on improved job and wage prospects. Finally, five years after the start of the recovery, consumers have begun to adopt the expectations and behaviors that have driven past expansions.


Chicago Purchasing Managers Index increased 5.7 points to 66.2 in October
Posted: October 31, 2014 at 09:45 AM (Friday)

The Chicago Business Barometer rose 5.7 points to a one year high of 66.2 in October, fuelled by a double digit gain in New Orders.

The bounceback in the Barometer marks a solid start to Q4 and suggests that against a backdrop of concerns about weakening growth in Europe and China, the US economy is still growing firmly.

New Orders was the strongest component of the Barometer and increased sharply to 73.6, the highest level since October 2013.

Production also strengthened further following a sharp decline in the previous month, and has been running at a firm pace for some time now.

The October survey also showed that higher demand and solid output encouraged companies to create jobs. Employment increased to the highest level since November 2013, a potential sign that the recovery is becoming more entrenched.

While the level of Inventories eased from the 41-year high seen in September, it remained firm and points to a continued stock build in line with strong sales forecasts and to cope with potential spikes in unplanned orders.

Order Backlogs also expanded faster, while Supplier Deliveries declined for the first time in six months, contributing negatively to the Barometer but giving some relief to business.

Lower crude oil prices saw inflationary pressures ease, with the Prices Paid measure falling below the average seen over the past year.

Commenting on the Chicago Report, Philip Uglow, Chief Economist of MNI Indicators said, “The strengthening in the Chicago Business Barometer suggests that the US economic recovery is more entrenched. The October survey also provided clearer evidence that companies are taking on more workers to keep up with higher demand.”

“Concerns about the global economy and the continued low level of inflationary pressures may persuade the Fed to keep rates lower for longer, but the domestic economy is growing healthily.”


Personal Income increased 0.2%, Spending decreased 0.2%
Posted: October 31, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Friday)

Personal income increased $22.7 billion, or 0.2 percent, and disposable personal income (DPI) increased $15.7 billion, or 0.1 percent, in September, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) decreased $19.0 billion, or 0.2 percent. In August, personal income increased $50.7 billion, or 0.3 percent, DPI increased $37.5 billion, or 0.3 percent, and PCE increased $58.7 billion, or 0.5 percent, based on revised estimates.

Real DPI increased less than 0.1 percent in September, compared with an increase of 0.3 percent in August. Real PCE decreased 0.2 percent, in contrast to an increase of 0.5 percent.


Employment Cost Index up 0.7% in 23Q2014
Posted: October 31, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Friday)

Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 0.7 percent, seasonally adjusted, for the 3-month period ending September 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Wages and salaries (which make up about 70 percent of compensation costs) increased 0.8 percent, and benefits (which make up the remaining 30 percent of compensation) increased 0.6 percent.


DJ-BTMU U.S. Business Barometer dipped by 0.2%
Posted: October 30, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Thursday)

For the week ending October 18 2014, the DJ-BTMU U.S. Business Barometer dipped by 0.2 percent to 98.1 as most indexes extended their weakening trend. Chain store sales fell by 0.3 percent, after a loss of 0.8 percent in the prior week. In the same line, MBA’s purchase index dropped by a solid 4.8 percent, extending the negative trend for two consecutive weeks. As to the production side, electric output and steel production declined by 2.7 and 0.9 percent, respectively, although it was partially offset by minor gains in auto production.

On a year-over-year basis, the barometer showed a gain of 0.7 percent, which compares to an average -3.3 percent decline over the Great Recession (ended in June 2009 according to the NBER). After flat lining in 2006, and declining from 2007 through 2009, the barometer bounced back in 2010 to rise by 3.4 percent, which was the strongest increase since 1994 (+4.0 percent), but not so impressive when compared to an -8.0 percent drop in 2009. The rate of increase for the 2013 slowed to 0.7 percent following 1.5 percent in 2012.

The smoothed version of the barometer, which attempts to account for weekly volatility, remained at 98.2. Its year-over-year growth rate was 0.9 percent.


Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims Increase 3,000 to 287,000
Posted: October 30, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Thursday)

In the week ending October 25, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 287,000, an increase of 3,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 283,000 to 284,000. The 4-week moving average was 281,000, a decrease of 250 from the previous week's revised average. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.8 percent for the week ending October 18, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending October 18 was 2,384,000, an increase of 29,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 4,000 from 2,351,000 to 2,355,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,377,500, a decrease of 4,500 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since January 13, 2001 when it was 2,360,500. The previous week's average was revised up by 1,000 from 2,381,000 to 2,382,000.


3Q2014 GDP advance estimate increased 3.5%
Posted: October 30, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Thursday)

Real gross domestic product -- the value of the production of goods and services in the United States, adjusted for price changes -- increased at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter of 2014, according to the "advance" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the second quarter, real GDP increased 4.6 percent.

The increase in real GDP in the third quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), exports, nonresidential fixed investment, federal government spending, and state and local government spending that were partly offset by a negative contribution from private inventory investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased.

The deceleration in the percent change in real GDP reflected a downturn in private inventory investment and decelerations in PCE, in nonresidential fixed investment, in exports, in state and local government spending, and in residential fixed investment that were partly offset by a downturn in imports and an upturn in federal government spending.

The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, increased 1.3 percent in the third quarter, compared with an increase of 2.0 percent in the second. Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for gross domestic purchases increased 1.5 percent, compared with an increase of 1.7 percent.


FOMC target funds rate maintained at 0 - 1/4%, QE Buying Ends
Posted: October 29, 2014 at 02:00 PM (Wednesday)

Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in September suggests that economic activity is expanding at a moderate pace. Labor market conditions improved somewhat further, with solid job gains and a lower unemployment rate. On balance, a range of labor market indicators suggests that underutilization of labor resources is gradually diminishing. Household spending is rising moderately and business fixed investment is advancing, while the recovery in the housing sector remains slow. Inflation has continued to run below the Committee's longer-run objective. Market-based measures of inflation compensation have declined somewhat; survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.

Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. The Committee expects that, with appropriate policy accommodation, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace, with labor market indicators and inflation moving toward levels the Committee judges consistent with its dual mandate. The Committee sees the risks to the outlook for economic activity and the labor market as nearly balanced. Although inflation in the near term will likely be held down by lower energy prices and other factors, the Committee judges that the likelihood of inflation running persistently below 2 percent has diminished somewhat since early this year.

The Committee judges that there has been a substantial improvement in the outlook for the labor market since the inception of its current asset purchase program. Moreover, the Committee continues to see sufficient underlying strength in the broader economy to support ongoing progress toward maximum employment in a context of price stability. Accordingly, the Committee decided to conclude its asset purchase program this month. The Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities and of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction. This policy, by keeping the Committee's holdings of longer-term securities at sizable levels, should help maintain accommodative financial conditions.

To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee today reaffirmed its view that the current 0 to 1/4 percent target range for the federal funds rate remains appropriate. In determining how long to maintain this target range, the Committee will assess progress--both realized and expected--toward its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation. This assessment will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial developments. The Committee anticipates, based on its current assessment, that it likely will be appropriate to maintain the 0 to 1/4 percent target range for the federal funds rate for a considerable time following the end of its asset purchase program this month, especially if projected inflation continues to run below the Committee's 2 percent longer-run goal, and provided that longer-term inflation expectations remain well anchored. However, if incoming information indicates faster progress toward the Committee's employment and inflation objectives than the Committee now expects, then increases in the target range for the federal funds rate are likely to occur sooner than currently anticipated. Conversely, if progress proves slower than expected, then increases in the target range are likely to occur later than currently anticipated.

When the Committee decides to begin to remove policy accommodation, it will take a balanced approach consistent with its longer-run goals of maximum employment and inflation of 2 percent. The Committee currently anticipates that, even after employment and inflation are near mandate-consistent levels, economic conditions may, for some time, warrant keeping the target federal funds rate below levels the Committee views as normal in the longer run.

Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Janet L. Yellen, Chair; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; Lael Brainard; Stanley Fischer; Richard W. Fisher; Loretta J. Mester; Charles I. Plosser; Jerome H. Powell; and Daniel K. Tarullo. Voting against the action was Narayana Kocherlakota, who believed that, in light of continued sluggishness in the inflation outlook and the recent slide in market-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations, the Committee should commit to keeping the current target range for the federal funds rate at least until the one-to-two-year ahead inflation outlook has returned to 2 percent and should continue the asset purchase program at its current level.


Purchase Apps down, Refi's down in Latest MBA Weekly Survey
Posted: October 29, 2014 at 07:00 AM (Wednesday)

Mortgage applications decreased 6.6 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending October 24, 2014.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 6.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 7 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 7 percent from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 5 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 5 percent compared with the previous week and was 15 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The seasonally adjusted purchase index and conventional purchase index were the lowest since February 2014, while the government purchase index was the lowest since August 2007.

“Borrowers with jumbo loans tend to be most sensitive to changes in rates, and that sensitivity has been clearly apparent in the past few weeks with double and even triple digit percentage changes in refinance application volume for jumbo loans,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s Chief Economist. “The average loan size for refinance applications decreased to $263,600 in the most recent week from a survey high of $306,400 the previous week. The decrease was driven by a 41 percent drop in refinance applications for loans greater than $729,000, which had surged almost 130 percent the week before.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity remained unchanged at 65 percent of total applications from the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 8.2 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications increased from 8.3 percent last week to 8.9 percent this week. The VA share of total applications increased from 9.6 percent last week to 10.7 percent this week. The USDA share of total applications increased from 0.8 percent last week to 0.9 percent this week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) increased to 4.13 percent from 4.10 percent, with points remaining unchanged at 0.21 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) increased to 4.13 percent from 4.03 percent, with points decreasing to 0.13 from 0.20 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA increased to 3.84 percent from 3.81 percent, with points increasing to 0.16 from 0.07 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages remained unchanged at 3.28 percent, with points increasing to 0.24 from 0.22 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate remained unchanged from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs remained unchanged at 2.94 percent, with points increasing to 0.43 from 0.37 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from last week.


Consumer Confidence rebounded in October to 94.5
Posted: October 28, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Tuesday)

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, which had decreased in September, rebounded in October. The Index now stands at 94.5 (1985=100), up from 89.0 in September. The Present Situation Index edged up from 93.0 to 93.7, while the Expectations Index increased sharply to 95.0 from 86.4 in September.

Consumer confidence, which had declined in September, rebounded in October. A more favorable assessment of the current job market and business conditions contributed to the improvement in consumers’ view of the present situation. Looking ahead, consumers have regained confidence in the short-term outlook for the economy and labor market, and are more optimistic about their future earnings potential. With the holiday season around the corner, this boost in confidence should be a welcome sign for retailers.

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions was moderately more favorable in October than in September. Their view of business conditions was mixed; while the proportion saying conditions are “good” inched up from 24.2 percent to 24.5 percent, those claiming business conditions are “bad” also increased slightly, from 21.2 percent to 21.7 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the job market improved moderately, with the proportion stating jobs are “plentiful” increasing marginally from 16.3 percent to 16.5 percent, and those claiming jobs are “hard to get” declining slightly from 29.4 percent to 29.1 percent.

Consumers’ optimism, which had declined considerably in September, improved in October. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased from 19.0 percent to 19.6 percent, while those expecting business conditions to worsen fell from 11.4 percent to 9.3 percent. Consumers’ outlook for the labor market also improved markedly. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead increased to 16.8 percent from 16.0 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs fell from 16.9 percent to 13.9 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting growth in their incomes rose from 16.9 percent in September to 17.7 percent in October, while the proportion expecting a drop in income fell from 13.4 percent to 11.6 percent.


Richmond Fed's Current Activity Index climbed to a reading of 20
Posted: October 28, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Tuesday)

Fifth District manufacturing activity expanded in October, according to the most recent survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Shipments and the volume of new orders grew robustly this month, while manufacturing employment growth continued at a moderate pace. Average wages rose modestly and the average workweek shortened slightly compared to a month ago.

Manufacturers remained optimistic about future business conditions. Firms continued to look for faster growth in shipments and in the volume of new orders. Additionally, producers expected increased capacity utilization and anticipated rising backlogs in the six months ahead. Manufacturers looked for little change in vendor lead times.

Survey participants' outlook for the months ahead included faster growth in the number of employees and average wages, with steady growth in the average workweek.

Prices of raw materials and finished goods rose at a slightly faster pace in October. Manufacturers expected slower growth in prices paid and anticipated faster growth in prices received over the next six months

Overall, manufacturing conditions strengthened in October. The composite index climbed to a reading of 20 following last month's reading of 14. The index for shipments advanced 12 points, ending at 23. Additionally, the index for new orders moved up eight points to 22. Manufacturing employment grew at a steady pace this month. The October indicator slipped three points to a reading of 14.

Vendor lead time lengthened, moving the index up two points to 12. Capacity utilization grew on pace with a month ago; the index remained at 13. Backlogs rose at a faster pace this month; the October indicator gained three points, ending at 9. Finished goods inventories rose at a slower pace compared to a month ago. The index shed eight points to finish at 15. Additionally, raw materials inventories rose at a slightly slower rate compared to last month. That gauge moved down one point to settle at 19.


S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices increase 0.2% in August
Posted: October 28, 2014 at 09:00 AM (Tuesday)

Data through August 2014, released today by S&P Dow Jones Indices for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices, continue to show a deceleration in home price gains. The 10-City Composite gained 5.5% year-over-year and the 20-City 5.6%, both down from the 6.7% reported for July. The National Index gained 5.1% annually in August compared to 5.6% in July.

On a monthly basis, the National Index and Composite Indices showed a slight increase of 0.2% for the month of August. Detroit led the cities with the gain of 0.8%, followed by Dallas, Denver and Las Vegas at 0.5%. Gains in those cities were offset by a decline of 0.4% in San Francisco followed by declines of 0.1% in Charlotte and San Diego.

The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, recorded a 5.1% annual gain in August 2014. The 10- and 20-City Composites posted year-over-year increases of 5.5% and 5.6%.

The deceleration in home prices continues. The Sun Belt region reported its worst annual returns since 2012, led by weakness in all three California cities -- Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego. Despite the weaker year-over-year numbers, home prices are still showing an overall increase, as the National Index increased for its eighth consecutive month.

The large extent of slower increases is seen in the annual figures with all 20 cities; the two composites and the national index all revealing lower numbers than last month. The 10- and 20-City Composites gained 5.5% and 5.6% annually with prices nationally rising at a slower pace of 5.1%. Las Vegas continues to see a sharp deceleration in their annual home prices with a 10.1% annual return, down just below three percent from last month. Miami is now leading the cities with a 10.5% year-over-year return. San Francisco, which has shown double-digit annual gains since November 2012, posted an annual return of 9.0% in August.

Despite softer price data, other housing data perked up. September figures for housing starts, permits and sales of existing homes were all up. New home sales and builders’ confidence were weaker. Continued labor market gains, low interest rates and slower increases in home prices should support further improvements in housing.

As of August 2014, average home prices across the United States are back to their levels posted in the spring of 2005. The National Index was up 0.2% in August 2014 and 5.1% above August 2013.

As of August 2014, average home prices for the MSAs within the 10-City and 20-City Composites are back to their autumn 2004 levels. Measured from their June/July 2006 peaks, the peak-to-current decline for both Composites is approximately 16-17%. The recovery from the March 2012 lows is 28.8% and 29.5% for the 10-City and 20-City Composites.

All cities except Cleveland saw their annual gains decelerate. Las Vegas showed the most weakness in its year-over-year return; it went from 12.8% in July to 10.1% in August. As a result, Las Vegas lost its leadership position as it moved to second place behind Miami with a 10.5% year-over-year gain. San Francisco posted 9.0% in August, down from its double-digit return of 10.5% in July.

All cities except Boston and Detroit posted lower monthly returns in August compared their returns reported for July. San Francisco showed its largest decline since February 2012; it was the only city that showed a negative monthly return two months in a row from -0.3% in July to -0.4% in August.


New Orders for Durable Goods Decreased 1.3%, Ex-Trans down 0.2%
Posted: October 28, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Tuesday)

New orders for manufactured durable goods in September decreased $3.2 billion or 1.3 percent to $241.6 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. This decrease, down two consecutive months, followed an 18.3 percent August decrease. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 0.2 percent. Excluding defense, new orders decreased 1.5 percent. Transportation equipment, also down two consecutive months, led the decrease, $2.8 billion or 3.7 percent to $73.4 billion.

Shipments of manufactured durable goods in September, up three of the last four months, increased $0.1 billion or 0.1 percent to $245.6 billion. This followed a 1.8 percent August decrease. Fabricated metal products, up eight of the last nine months, drove the increase, $0.2 billion or 0.6 percent to $30.5 billion.

Unfilled orders for manufactured durable goods in September, up seventeen of the last eighteen months, increased $3.8 billion or 0.3 percent to $1,168.7 billion. This was at the highest level since the series was first published on a NAICS basis in 1992 and followed a 0.6 percent August increase. Transportation equipment, up twelve of the last thirteen months, led the increase, $1.0 billion or 0.1 percent to $742.7 billion.

Inventories of manufactured durable goods in September, up seventeen of the last eighteen months, increased $1.8 billion or 0.4 percent to $404.8 billion. This was at the highest level since the series was first published on a NAICS basis and followed a 0.4 percent August increase. Transportation equipment, also up seventeen of the last eighteen months, led the increase, $1.0 billion or 0.8 percent to $130.9 billion.

Nondefense new orders for capital goods in September decreased $4.6 billion or 5.4 percent to $82.0 billion. Shipments increased $0.4 billion or 0.5 percent to $80.2 billion. Unfilled orders increased $1.8 billion or 0.2 percent to $733.3 billion. Inventories increased $1.1 billion or 0.6 percent to $184.9 billion. Defense new orders for capital goods in September increased $0.6 billion or 7.4 percent to $9.4 billion. Shipments decreased $0.1 billion or 1.3 percent to $9.7 billion. Unfilled orders decreased $0.3 billion or 0.2 percent to $157.8 billion. Inventories decreased $0.3 billion or 1.2 percent to $23.6 billion.

Revised seasonally adjusted August figures for all manufacturing industries were: new orders, $502.2 billion (revised from $502.0 billion); shipments, $502.8 billion (revised from $503.1 billion); unfilled orders, $1,164.9 billion (revised from $1,164.5 billion); and total inventories, $653.9 billion (unchanged).


ICSC Chain Store Sales increased by 0.3% in Oct 25 Wk
Posted: October 28, 2014 at 07:45 AM (Tuesday)

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Index increased 2.8% for the week ending October 25 - relative to the prior year. On a week-over-week basis, sales increased 0.3%.

"Business over the past week was strong at department stores, wholesale clubs and electronics stores," said Michael Niemira, ICSC research consultant. "While the receding gasoline prices may not have a massive impact week-to-week, the cumulative effect should strongly benefit the upcoming holiday shopping season as consumers should have additional discretionary income," he added.


Texas Manufacturing Activity increased again in October
Posted: October 27, 2014 at 10:30 AM (Monday)

Texas factory activity increased again in October, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, fell from 17.6 to 13.7, indicating output grew but at a slightly slower pace than in September.

Other measures of current manufacturing activity also reflected continued growth in October. The new orders index rose notably from 7.5 to 14.2, reaching a six-month high. The capacity utilization index edged down to 18.1 and the shipments index slipped to 12.8, although still more than a quarter of firms noted increases in these measures over September levels.

Perceptions of broader business conditions remained optimistic this month and outlooks improved markedly. The general business activity index held steady at a solid reading of 10.5. The company outlook index surged more than 12 points to 18.2, reaching its highest level in six months.

Labor market indicators reflected continued employment growth and longer workweeks. The October employment index posted a fifth robust reading, holding steady at 10.2. Nineteen percent of firms reported net hiring, compared with 9 percent reporting net layoffs. The hours worked index also held fairly steady, coming in at 8.3 after rising to 9.5 last month.

Upward pressure on prices and wages continued at about the same pace in October. The raw materials prices index was 19.7, nearly unchanged from its September reading. The finished goods prices index also held steady, at a reading of 7.1, with more than 80 percent of manufacturers noting no change in selling prices this month. The wages and benefits index showed little movement as well, edging down from 26.2 to 24.5.

Expectations regarding future business conditions remained optimistic in October. The index of future general business activity inched up to 13.3. Indexes for future manufacturing activity showed mixed movements in October but remained in solidly positive territory. The index for future employment shot up 13 points to 31.7, suggesting an increase in headcounts six months from now.


Pending Home Sales Index inched up 0.3% in September
Posted: October 27, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Monday)

Pending home sales rose slightly in September and are now above year-over-year levels for the first time in 11 months, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, inched 0.3 percent to 105.0 in September from 104.7 in August, and is now 1.0 percent higher than September 2013 (104.0). The index is above 100 for the fifth consecutive month and is at the second-highest level since last September.

Moderating price growth and sustained inventory levels are keeping conditions favorable for buyers. Housing supply for existing homes was up in September 6 percent from a year ago, which is preventing prices from rising at the accelerated clip seen earlier this year. Additionally, the current spectacularly low mortgage rates should help more buyers reach the market.

Despite improved housing conditions and low interest rates, tight credit conditions continue to be a barrier for some buyers. Of the reasons for not closing a sale, about 15 percent of Realtors® in September reported having clients who could not obtain financing as the reason for not closing.

The final rule on Qualified Residential Mortgages should improve access to credit once it goes into effect next year. The rule provides clarity for lenders and is a win for creditworthy consumers by ensuring they continue to have access to safe and affordable loan products without overly burdensome downpayment requirements.

The PHSI in the Northeast increased 1.2 percent to 87.5 in September, and is now 2.9 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index decreased 1.2 percent to 101.2 in September, and is now 4.0 percent below September 2013.

Pending home sales in the South increased 1.4 percent to an index of 118.5 in September, and is 1.7 percent above last September. The index in the West inched back 0.8 percent in September to 101.3, but is still 3.6 percent above a year ago.


New Home Sales in September at annual rate of 467,000
Posted: October 24, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Friday)

Sales of new single-family houses in September 2014 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 467,000, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 0.2 percent (±15.7%) above the revised August rate of 466,000 and is 17.0 percent (±20.6%)* above the September 2013 estimate of 399,000.

The median sales price of new houses sold in September 2014 was $259,000; the average sales price was $313,200. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of September was 207,000. This represents a supply of 5.3 months at the current sales rate.


Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Activity grew at a modest pace in Oct
Posted: October 23, 2014 at 11:00 AM (Thursday)

Tenth District manufacturing activity grew at a modest pace in October, and producers’ optimism for future activity remained solid. Firms continued to note difficulties in attracting and retaining certain key workers, particularly machinists and welders. Most price indexes were down slightly from the previous month.

The month-over-month composite index was 4 in October, down from 6 in September but slightly higher than 3 in August. The composite index is an average of the production, new orders, employment, supplier delivery time, and raw materials inventory indexes. Producers of metal products and computer and electronic equipment reported the strongest growth, while contacts at food and machinery plants reported further declines in activity. Most other month-over-month indexes were also lower than last month. The production index fell from 12 to 3, and the shipments, new orders, and employment indexes also moved lower. The new orders for exports index decreased from -1 to -9, and the order backlog index posted its lowest level in over a year. The raw materials inventory index increased from 0 to 4, while the finished goods inventory index fell into negative territory.

Most year-over-year factory indexes moved slightly higher. The composite year-over-year index rose from 15 to 17, and the production, shipments, and new orders indexes also increased. The employment index edged up from 12 to 16, and the capital expenditures index reached a two-year high. In contrast, the order backlog index decreased from 12 to 6, and the new orders for exports index fell into negative territory. Both inventory indexes moved lower but remained positive.

Future factory indexes were mostly stable at solid levels. The future composite index was unchanged at 17, while the future production, shipments, and order backlog indexes eased somewhat. The future new orders index was unchanged at 26, while the future employment index rose from 13 to 16. The future capital expenditures index moved slightly higher from 20 to 21, and the future new orders for exports index rebounded from last month’s decline. Both future inventories indexes increased after falling last month.

Most price indexes were down slightly from the previous month. The month-over-month raw materials price index edged down from 20 to 17, and the finished goods price index also moderated somewhat. The year-over-year raw materials price index inched lower from 45 to 44, while the finished goods price index was unchanged. The future raw materials price index eased from 39 to 38, and the future finished goods price index also decreased, indicating fewer firms plan to pass recent cost increases through to customers.


U.S. Leading Economic Index increased 0.8%
Posted: October 23, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Thursday)

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® (LEI) for the U.S. increased 0.8 percent in September to 104.4 (2004 = 100), following no change in August, and a 1.1 percent increase in July.

“The LEI picked up in September, after no change in August, and the strengths among its components have been very widespread over the past six months,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, Economist at The Conference Board. “The outlook for improving employment and further income growth are expected to support the moderate expansion in the U.S economy for the remainder of the year.”

“The financial markets are reflecting turmoil and unease, but the data on the leading indicators continue to suggest moderate growth in the short-term,” said Ken Goldstein, Economist at The Conference Board. “Meanwhile, the weak advances in the housing market remain a bigger risk to the outlook than short-term financial gyrations.”

The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index® (CEI) for the U.S. increased 0.4 percent in September to 110.2 (2004 = 100), following a 0.1 percent increase in August, and a 0.3 percent increase in July.

The Conference Board Lagging Economic Index® (LAG) for the U.S. increased 0.1 percent in September to 125.1 (2004 = 100), following a 0.3 percent increase in August, and a 0.2 percent increase in July.


DJ-BTMU U.S. Business Barometer unch%
Posted: October 23, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Thursday)

For the week ending October 11 2014, the DJ-BTMU U.S. Business Barometer remained at the same level, 98.3, from the prior week as negative performances of consumption indexes were cancelled out by gains in productions indexes. Both chain store sales and MBA’s purchase index dipped by 0.7 percent, following a recovery in the previous week. As to the production side, electric output reported a solid gain of 5.7 percent, while auto production picked up by 2.8 percent, after declining 7.4 percent last week.

On a year-over-year basis, the barometer showed a gain of 1.3 percent, which compares to an average -3.3 percent decline over the Great Recession (ended in June 2009 according to the NBER). After flat lining in 2006, and declining from 2007 through 2009, the barometer bounced back in 2010 to rise by 3.4 percent, which was the strongest increase since 1994 (+4.0 percent), but not so impressive when compared to an -8.0 percent drop in 2009. The rate of increase for the 2013 slowed to 0.7 percent following 1.5 percent in 2012.

The smoothed version of the barometer, which attempts to account for weekly volatility, remained at 98.3 for three weeks in a row. Its year-over-year growth rate was 1.1 percent.


Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims Increase 17,000 to 283,000
Posted: October 23, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Thursday)

In the week ending October 18, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 283,000, an increase of 17,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 2,000 from 264,000 to 266,000. The 4-week moving average was 281,000, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since May 6, 2000 when it was 279,250. The previous week's average was revised up by 500 from 283,500 to 284,000. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.8 percent for the week ending October 11, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending October 11 was 2,351,000, a decrease of 38,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 2,389,000. This is the lowest level for insured unemployment since December 23, 2000 when it was 2,340,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,381,000, a decrease of 22,750 from the previous week's unrevised average of 2,403,750. This is the lowest level for this average since May 20, 2006 when it was 2,377,750.


Chicago Fed National Activity picked up in September
Posted: October 23, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Thursday)

Led by improvements in production-related indicators, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) rose to +0.47 in September from –0.25 in August. Three of the four broad categories of indicators that make up the index made positive contributions to the index in September, and three of the four categories increased from August.

The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, increased to +0.25 in September from +0.16 in August, marking its seventh consecutive reading above zero. September’s CFNAI-MA3 suggests that growth in national economic activity was somewhat above its historical trend. The economic growth reflected in this level of the CFNAI-MA3 suggests limited inflationary pressure from economic activity over the coming year.

The CFNAI Diffusion Index, which is also a three-month moving average, increased to +0.24 in September from +0.18 in August. Fifty-eight of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the CFNAI in September, while 27 made negative contributions. Fifty-six indicators improved from August to September, while 29 indicators deteriorated. Of the indicators that improved, 12 made negative contributions.

Production-related indicators made a contribution of +0.30 to the CFNAI in September, up from –0.20 in August. Industrial production rose 1.0 percent in September after decreasing 0.2 percent in August, and manufacturing capacity utilization increased to 77.3 percent in September from 77.1 percent in the previous month.

Employment-related indicators contributed +0.22 to the CFNAI in September, up from +0.04 in August. The unemployment rate declined to 5.9 percent in September from 6.1 percent in August; and nonfarm payrolls increased by 248,000 in September, up from a gain of 180,000 in August. The contribution of the sales, orders, and inventories category to the CFNAI rose to +0.08 in September from –0.01 in August.

The contribution of the consumption and housing category to the CFNAI decreased to –0.13 in September from –0.09 in August. Consumption indicators, on balance, deteriorated, pushing the category’s contribution lower. However, housing starts rose to 1,017,000 annualized units in September from 957,000 in August, and housing permits edged up to 1,018,000 annualized units in September from 1,003,000 in the previous month.

The CFNAI was constructed using data available as of October 21, 2014. At that time, September data for 50 of the 85 indicators had been published. For all missing data, estimates were used in constructing the index. The August monthly index was revised to –0.25 from an initial estimate of –0.21, and the July monthly index was revised to +0.52 from last month’s estimate of +0.26. Revisions to the monthly index can be attributed to two main factors: revisions in previously published data and differences between the estimates of previously unavailable data and subsequently published data. The revisions to both the August and July monthly indexes were due primarily to the latter.


Consumer Price Index increased 0.1% in September, Ex Fd & Engy up 0.1%
Posted: October 22, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Wednesday)

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.1 percent in September on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 1.7 percent before seasonal adjustment.

Increases in shelter and food indexes outweighed declines in energy indexes to result in the seasonally adjusted all items increase. The food index rose 0.3 percent as five of the six major grocery store food group indexes increased. The energy index declined 0.7 percent as the indexes for gasoline, electricity, and fuel oil all fell.

The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.1 percent in September. Along with the shelter index, the index for medical care increased, and the indexes for alcoholic beverages and for personal care advanced slightly. Several indexes were unchanged, and the indexes for airline fares and for used cars and trucks declined in September.

The all items index increased 1.7 percent over the last 12 months, the same increase as for the 12 months ending August. The 12-month change in the index for all items less food and energy also remained at 1.7 percent. The 12-month change in the shelter index has been gradually increasing, and reached 3.0 percent for the first time since January 2008. The food index has also risen 3.0 percent over the span, while the energy index has declined 0.6 percent.


Real Average Hourly Earnings fell 0.2% in September
Posted: October 22, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Wednesday)

Real average hourly earnings for all employees fell 0.2 percent from August to September, seasonally adjusted, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. This result stems from unchanged average hourly earnings combined with a 0.1 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U).

Real average weekly earnings increased by 0.2 percent over the month due to a 0.3 percent increase in the average workweek more than offsetting the decline in real average hourly earnings.

Real average hourly earnings increased by 0.3 percent, seasonally adjusted, from September 2013 to September 2014. This gain in real average hourly earnings, combined with a 0.3 percent increase in the average workweek, resulted in a 0.6 percent increase in real average weekly earnings over this period.


Purchase Apps up, Refi's up in Latest MBA Weekly Survey
Posted: October 22, 2014 at 07:00 AM (Wednesday)

Mortgage applications increased 11.6 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending October 17, 2014. This week’s results did not include an adjustment for the Columbus Day holiday.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 11.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 12 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index increased 23 percent from the previous week to the highest level since November 2013. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 5 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 5 percent compared with the previous week and was 9 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

“Continuing concerns about weak economic growth in Europe and a few US economic indicators that came in below expectations caused a flight to quality into US Treasuries last week, leading to sharp drops in interest rates,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s Chief Economist. “Mortgage rates have fallen close to 30 basis points over the last four weeks. Refinance application volume reached the highest level since November 2013 as a result, and the average loan balance for refinance applications increased to $306,400, the highest level in the survey’s history.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 65 percent of total applications, the highest level since December 2013, from 59 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 9.4 percent of total applications, the highest level since June 2008.

The FHA share of total applications decreased from 9.5 percent last week to 8.3 percent this week. The VA share of total applications increased from 8.8 percent last week to 9.6 percent this week. The USDA share of total applications fell from 1.0 percent last week to 0.8 percent this week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) decreased to 4.10 percent, the lowest level since May 2013, from 4.20 percent, with points increasing to 0.21 from 0.17 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) decreased to 4.03 percent, the lowest level since May 2013, from 4.14 percent, with points increasing to 0.20 from 0.10 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA decreased to 3.81 percent, the lowest level since June 2013, from 3.90 percent, with points decreasing to 0.07 from 0.08 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 3.28 percent, the lowest level since May 2013, from 3.41 percent, with points decreasing to 0.22 from 0.28 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs decreased to 2.94 percent, the lowest level since June 2013, from 3.05 percent, with points decreasing to 0.37 from 0.38 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.


Existing-Home Sales increased 2.4% in September
Posted: October 21, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Tuesday)

After a modest decline last month, existing-home sales bounced back in September to their highest annual pace of the year, according to the National Association of Realtors®. All major regions except for the Midwest experienced gains in September.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 2.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.17 million in September from 5.05 million in August. Sales are now at their highest pace of 2014, but still remain 1.7 percent below the 5.26 million-unit level from last September.

The improved demand for buying seen since the spring has carried into the fall. Low interest rates and price gains holding steady led to September’s healthy increase, even with investor activity remaining on par with last month’s marked decline. Traditional buyers are entering a less competitive market with fewer investors searching for available homes, but may also face a slight decline in choices due to the fact that inventory generally falls heading into the winter.

The median existing-home price for all housing types in September was $209,700, which is 5.6 percent above September 2013. This marks the 31st consecutive month of year-over-year price gains.

Total housing inventory at the end of September fell 1.3 percent to 2.30 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 5.3-month supply at the current sales pace. Despite fewer homes for sale in September, unsold inventory is still 6.0 percent higher than a year ago, when there were 2.17 million existing homes available for sale.

All-cash sales were 24 percent of transactions in September, up slightly from August (23 percent) but down from 33 percent in September of last year. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 14 percent of homes in September, up from 12 percent last month but below September 2013 (19 percent). Sixty-three percent of investors paid cash in September.

According to Freddie Mac, after falling for four consecutive months, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 4.16 percent in September from 4.12 percent in August. Despite the slight increase, interest rates are 33 basis points less than a year ago (4.49 percent).

Economic instability overseas is leading to volatility in the stock market and is causing investors to seek safer bets, which will likely keep interest rates in upcoming weeks hovering near or below where they are now. This is welcoming news for consumers looking to buy, although they could temporarily become more cautious by less certain economic conditions.

The percent share of first-time buyers continues to underperform historically, remaining at 29 percent for the third consecutive month. First-time buyers have represented less than 30 percent of all buyers in 17 of the past 18 months.

Distressed homes – foreclosures and short sales – increased slightly in September to 10 percent from 8 percent in August, but are down from 14 percent a year ago. Seven percent of September sales were foreclosures and 3 percent were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 14 percent below market value in September (same as in August), while short sales were discounted 14 percent (10 percent in August).

Fewer distressed sales is good news for appraisers, who have faced undue pressure since the downturn. An appraisal is an important part of the home buying and selling process. With foreclosures and short sales falling closer to average levels, appraisers will have fewer distressed sales in their list of comparables when determining home valuations.

Properties typically stayed on the market in September longer (56 days) than last month (53 days) and a year ago (50 days). Short sales were on the market for a median of 116 days in September, while foreclosures sold in 59 days and non-distressed homes typically took 55 days. Thirty-five percent of homes sold in September were on the market for less than a month.

Single-family home sales rose 2.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.56 million in September from 4.47 million in August, but remain 1.9 percent below the 4.65 million pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $210,300 in September, up 5.9 percent from September 2013.

Existing condominium and co-op sales increased 5.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 610,000 units in September from 580,000 in August, and are unchanged from the 610,000 unit pace a year ago. The median existing condo price was $205,200 in September, which is 3.2 percent higher than a year ago.

Regionally, September existing-home sales in the Northeast climbed 1.5 percent to an annual rate of 680,000, but remain 1.4 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $249,800, which is 4.8 percent higher than a year ago.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales declined 5.6 percent to an annual level of 1.17 million in September, and remain 4.9 percent below September 2013. The median price in the Midwest was $165,100, up 4.9 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South increased 5.0 percent to an annual rate of 2.12 million in September, and are now 1.4 percent above September 2013. The median price in the South was $180,900, up 5.1 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West jumped 7.1 percent to an annual rate of 1.20 million in September, but remain 4.0 percent below a year ago. The median price in the West was $294,200, which is 4.0 percent above September 2013.


ICSC Chain Store Sales decreased by 0.3% in Oct 18 Wk
Posted: October 21, 2014 at 07:45 AM (Tuesday)

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Index increased 2.1% for the week ending October 18 - relative to the prior year. On a week-over-week basis, sales decreased by 0.3%.

"Business over the past week was strong for electronic stores, apparel stores, and discounters," said Michael Niemira, ICSC research consultant. "Gasoline prices remained low, down a hefty 7.1% from the same week of the prior year. Continuing to get a break at the pump should bode well for healthy discretionary spending as we inch closer to entering the traditional holiday shopping period," he added.


September Housing Starts up 6.3%, Permits up 1.5%
Posted: October 17, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Friday)

BUILDING PERMITS
Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in September were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,018,000. This is 1.5 percent (±1.1%) above the revised August rate of 1,003,000 and is 2.5 percent (±1.2%) above the September 2013 estimate of 993,000. Single-family authorizations in September were at a rate of 624,000; this is 0.5 percent (±1.1%) below the revised August figure of 627,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 369,000 in September.

HOUSING STARTS
Privately-owned housing starts in September were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,017,000. This is 6.3 percent (±9.3%) above the revised August estimate of 957,000 and is 17.8 percent (±14.4%) above the September 2013 rate of 863,000. Single-family housing starts in September were at a rate of 646,000; this is 1.1 percent (±8.3%) above the revised August figure of 639,000. The September rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 353,000.

HOUSING COMPLETIONS
Privately-owned housing completions in September were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 999,000. This is 8.6 percent (±17.2%) above the revised August estimate of 920,000 and is 31.3 percent (±23.7%) above the September 2013 rate of 761,000. Single-family housing completions in September were at a rate of 624,000; this is 1.0 percent (±11.6%) above the revised August rate of 618,000. The September rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 368,000.


Treasury International Capital Data for August 2014
Posted: October 16, 2014 at 04:00 PM (Thursday)

The U.S. Department of the Treasury today released Treasury International Capital (TIC) data for August 2014. The sum total in August of all net foreign acquisitions of long-term securities, short-term U.S. securities, and banking flows was a monthly net TIC inflow of $74.5 billion. Of this, net foreign private inflows were $63.1 billion, and net foreign official inflows were $11.4 billion.

Foreign residents increased their holdings of long-term U.S. securities in August; net purchases were $26.5 billion. Net purchases by private foreign investors were $20.7 billion, while net purchases by foreign official institutions were $5.9 billion. U.S. residents decreased their holdings of long-term foreign securities, with net sales of $25.5 billion.

Taking into account transactions in both foreign and U.S. securities, net foreign purchases of long-term securities were $52.1 billion. After including adjustments, such as estimates of unrecorded principal payments to foreigners on U.S. asset-backed securities, overall net foreign purchases of long-term securities are estimated to have been $36.5 billion in August.

Foreign residents increased their holdings of U.S. Treasury bills by $10.2 billion. Foreign resident holdings of all dollar-denominated short-term U.S. securities and other custody liabilities increased by $21.8 billion. Banks' own net dollar-denominated liabilities to foreign residents increased by $16.3 billion.


Philadelphia August Outlook Suggests Continued Growth
Posted: October 16, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Thursday)

Firms responding to the October Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey indicated continued growth in the region’s manufacturing sector this month. Most broad indicators of current growth, while positive, weakened from higher readings last month. The current activity, shipments, and employment indexes declined, while the index for new orders was at a higher level compared with September. A larger percentage of firms reported higher prices for their own manufactured goods this month. The survey’s indicators for future manufacturing conditions fell from higher readings but continued to reflect general optimism about growth in activity and employment over the next six months.

Indicators Reflect Continuing Growth
The diffusion index for current activity edged down from a reading of 22.5 to 20.7 this month. More than 34 percent of the firms reported an increase in activity; nearly 14 percent reported a decrease in activity. The current shipments and employment indexes also declined but remained positive, while the current new orders index increased 2 points. Firms reported an increase in inventories this month; the current inventory index increased 9 points to its highest reading in 10 months.

The survey’s indicators for labor market conditions suggest some moderation in employment growth this month. Although positive for the 16th consecutive month, the employment index decreased 9 points. The percentage of firms reporting increases in employment (20 percent) still exceeded the percentage reporting decreases (8 percent). For the first time in eight months, the workweek index was slightly negative.

Firms Report Higher Prices for Manufactured Goods
Input price pressures were reported to be nearly the same as last month: The prices paid index was nearly unchanged from September, at 27.6 (see Chart 2). More than 29 percent of the firms reported higher input prices; 2 percent reported lower input prices. With respect to prices received for manufactured goods, 21 percent of the firms reported higher prices, up from 13 percent last month. The prices received index increased 12 points, to 20.8, its highest reading since April 2011.

Future Indicators Weaken but Still Reflect Expected Growth
The diffusion index for current activity edged down 2 points, to 54.5. The future index for new orders held steady, but the future shipments index decreased 7 points. Firms pulled back their expectations about employment growth over the next six months. Nearly 33 percent of the firms are expecting growth in their employment levels over the next six months, compared with 44 percent last month. The future employment index decreased, from 39.6 to 28.0.

For this month’s special questions, manufacturers were asked about current capacity utilization rates compared with the same time last year, as well as their plans for different categories of capital spending next year. The average capacity utilization rate among the firms polled was slightly more than 78 percent, which was an increase from the rate indicated one year earlier (76.5 percent). The share of firms expecting to increase spending on all capital categories (except structures) was higher than the share of firms expecting decreases. For most capital spending categories, higher capacity utilization rates were associated with expected increases in spending. For example, the current utilization rate among firms expecting to increase spending on noncomputer equipment (84 percent) was notably higher than those expecting to decrease spending (69 percent).

Summary
The October Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey suggests continued expansion of the region’s manufacturing sector. Firms reported continued increases in new orders but slower growth in activity, shipments, and employment this month. The survey’s future activity indexes remained at high readings, suggesting continued optimism about manufacturing growth. Firms were less optimistic about employment increases over the next six months, but one-third of the firms still expect to hire additional workers.


Builder Confidence fell 5 points in September to 54
Posted: October 16, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Thursday)

After four consecutive monthly gains, builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes fell five points to a level of 54 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released today.

We are seeing a return to the mid-50s index level trend established earlier in the summer, which is in line with the gradual pace of the housing recovery.

While there was a dip this month, builders are still positive about the housing market.” “After the HMI posted a nine-year high in September, it’s not surprising to see the number drop in October. However, historically low mortgage interest rates, steady job gains, and significant pent up demand all point to continued growth of the housing market.

All three HMI components declined in October. The index gauging current sales conditions decreased six points to 57, while the index measuring expectations for future sales slipped three points to 64 and the index gauging traffic of prospective buyers dropped six points to 41.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast and Midwest remained flat at 41 and 59, respectively. The South rose two points to 58 and the West registered a one-point loss to 57.


DJ-BTMU U.S. Business Barometer picked up by 0.1%
Posted: October 16, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Thursday)

For the week ending October 4 2014, the DJ-BTMU U.S. Business Barometer picked up by 0.1 percent to 98.3, after declining for three weeks in a row. The recovery in this week’s barometer is driven by both consumption and production indexes. MBA’s purchase index surged 2.4 percent, in line with minor gains in chain store sales and freight car loadings. As to the production side, all indexes except auto production reported gains, specially coal production and electric output, which climbed by 10.7 and 3.6 percent, respectively.

On a year-over-year basis, the barometer showed a gain of 0.9 percent, which compares to an average -3.3 percent decline over the Great Recession (ended in June 2009 according to the NBER). After flat lining in 2006, and declining from 2007 through 2009, the barometer bounced back in 2010 to rise by 3.4 percent, which was the strongest increase since 1994 (+4.0 percent), but not so impressive when compared to an -8.0 percent drop in 2009. The rate of increase for the 2013 slowed to 0.7 percent following 1.5 percent in 2012.

The smoothed version of the barometer, which attempts to account for weekly volatility, remained at 98.3. Its year-over-year growth rate was 1.1 percent.


Industrial Production increased 1.0%
Capacity Utilization moved up 0.6% to 79.3%

Posted: October 16, 2014 at 09:15 AM (Thursday)

Industrial production increased 1.0 percent in September and advanced at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the third quarter of 2014, roughly its average quarterly increase since the end of 2010. In September, manufacturing output moved up 0.5 percent, while the indexes for mining and for utilities climbed 1.8 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively. For the third quarter as a whole, manufacturing production rose at an annual rate of 3.5 percent and mining output increased at an annual rate of 8.7 percent. The output of utilities fell at an annual rate of 8.5 percent for a second consecutive quarterly decline. At 105.1 percent of its 2007 average, total industrial production in September was 4.3 percent above its level of a year earlier. The capacity utilization rate for total industry moved up 0.6 percentage point in September to 79.3 percent, a rate that is 1.0 percentage point above its level of 12 months earlier but 0.8 percentage point below its long-run (1972–2013) average.


Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims Decrease 23,000 to 264,000
Posted: October 16, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Thursday)

In the week ending October 11, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 264,000, a decrease of 23,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 287,000. This is the lowest level for initial claims since April 15, 2000 when it was 259,000. The 4-week moving average was 283,500, a decrease of 4,250 from the previous week's unrevised average of 287,750. This is the lowest level for this average since June 10, 2000 when it was 283,500. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.8 percent for the week ending October 4, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending October 4 was 2,389,000, an increase of 7,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 1,000 from 2,381,000 to 2,382,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,403,750, a decrease of 10,750 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since June 17, 2006 when it was 2,399,000. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 2,414,250 to 2,414,500.


Beige Book: Economic Activity Continues at Steady Pace
Posted: October 15, 2014 at 02:00 PM (Wednesday)

Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts generally described modest to moderate economic growth at a pace similar to that noted in the previous Beige Book. Moderate growth was reported by the Cleveland, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Dallas, and San Francisco Districts, while modest growth was reported by the New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta, and Kansas City Districts. In the Boston District, reports from business contacts painted a mixed picture of economic conditions. In addition, several Districts noted that contacts were generally optimistic about future activity.

Most Districts reported overall growth in consumer spending that ranged from slight to moderate, at a pace that was often similar to that reported in the previous Beige Book. However, general merchandise retailers in New York noted that sales were weaker on balance since the previous report. Several District reports indicated that retailers were relatively optimistic about the remainder of the year. Meanwhile, tourism activity remained upbeat in several areas, with some reports of higher occupancy rates and solid advance bookings for travel and lodging.

Several Districts reported that nonfinancial services grew at a moderate pace since the previous Beige Book. Districts reporting on transportation services generally noted growth in this sector, with a few pointing to capacity constraints in railroads, trucking, or both. Manufacturing activity increased in most Districts since the previous Beige Book; contacts in the Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Kansas City Districts reported positive near-term outlooks.

Residential construction and real estate activity were mixed since the previous report. Commercial construction and real estate activity grew in most Districts. Banking conditions continued to improve relative to the previous Beige Book. Commercial loan volumes increased in nearly all reporting Districts. However, consumer loan demand was mixed, and some Districts pointed to low or reduced levels of demand for refinancing. Credit standards generally remained unchanged, and there were no reports of deterioration in credit quality.

Agricultural conditions were mixed since the previous Beige Book. Prices for some crops declined, driven in part by very strong realized or anticipated production. These lower prices for some agricultural commodities were seen as weighing on producers' incomes, but as benefiting those using the commodities as inputs. In the energy sector, coal production was mixed and oil and natural gas production generally increased from already-high levels.

Employment continued to expand at about the same pace as that reported in the previous Beige Book. Most Districts reported that some employers had difficulty finding qualified workers for certain positions. A number of Districts characterized overall wage growth as modest, but reported upward wage pressures for particular industries and occupations, such as skilled labor in construction and manufacturing.

Consistent with the previous Beige Book, price pressures remained subdued, with Districts reporting little to no change in price levels or modest increases. Firms generally reported that input prices were unchanged or up slightly.


Business Inventories up 0.2% in August
Posted: October 15, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Wednesday)

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that the combined value of distributive trade sales and manufacturers’ shipments for August, adjusted for seasonal and trading-day differences but not for price changes, was estimated at $1,353.4 billion, down 0.4 percent (±0.1%) from July 2014, but were up 4.5 percent (±0.6%) from August 2013.

Manufacturers’ and trade inventories, adjusted for seasonal variations but not for price changes, were estimated at an end-of-month level of $1,752.3 billion, up 0.2 percent (±0.1%) from July 2014 and up 5.7 percent (±0.4%) from August 2013.

The total business inventories/sales ratio based on seasonally adjusted data at the end of August was 1.29. The August 2013 ratio was 1.28.


Producer Price Index decreased 0.1% in September, ex Fd & Engy up 0.2%
Posted: October 15, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Wednesday)

The Producer Price Index for final demand decreased 0.1 percent in September, seasonally adjusted, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Final demand prices were unchanged in August and advanced 0.1 percent in July. On an unadjusted basis, the index for final demand increased 1.6 percent for the 12 months ended in September.

In September, the 0.1-percent decrease in final demand prices can be traced to the indexes for both goods and services, which moved down 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.

Within intermediate demand, prices for processed goods inched up 0.1 percent, the index for unprocessed goods rose 0.6 percent, and prices for services were unchanged.


U.S. Retail Sales for September decrease 0.3%, Ex-Auto down 0.2%
Posted: October 15, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Wednesday)

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for September, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $442.7 billion, a decrease of 0.3 percent (±0.5%) from the previous month, but 4.3 percent (±0.9%) above September 2013. Total sales for the July through September 2014 period were up 4.5 percent (±0.7%) from the same period a year ago. The July to August 2014 percent change was unrevised from 0.6% (±0.2%).

Retail trade sales were down 0.4 percent (±0.5%) from August 2014, but 4.0 percent (±0.7%) above last year. Auto and other motor vehicle dealers were up 10.4 percent (±3.2%) from September 2013 and food services and drinking places were up 7.1 percent (±3.3%) from last year.


Empire State Manufacturing Survey Conditions show growth slowed significantly
Posted: October 15, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Wednesday)

The October 2014 Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that business activity grew modestly for New York manufacturers. The headline general business conditions index fell twenty-one points to 6.2, signaling that the pace of growth slowed significantly from last month. The new orders index dropped nineteen points to -1.7, indicating a slight decline in orders, and the shipments index fell twenty-six points to 1.1, indicating that shipments were flat. The employment index rose seven points to 10.2, pointing to an increase in employment levels, while the average workweek index fell to a level just below zero, suggesting that hours worked held steady. Both price indexes fell this month—a sign that the pace of growth had moderated for input prices and selling prices. Indexes for the six-month outlook were somewhat lower than last month, but continued to convey a high degree of optimism about future business conditions.

Growth in Business Activity Slows
After reaching a multiyear high last month, the general business conditions index plummeted twenty-one points to 6.2, pointing to a substantial slowing in the pace of growth in business activity for New York manufacturers. The decline in the index was driven by a drop in the share of respondents reporting that conditions had improved relative to the preceding month’s; this share fell from 46 percent to 25 percent in October, while the share of respondents reporting worsening conditions was little changed at 19 percent. The new orders index fell eighteen points to -1.7—evidence of a slight decrease in orders. Like the drop in the general business conditions index, this decline reflected a large drop in those reporting an increase. The shipments index tumbled twenty-six points to 1.1, indicating that orders were flat on the heels of a sharp increase last month. The unfilled orders index rose slightly but remained negative at -4.5. The delivery time index was little changed at -5.7, and the inventories index, up ten points to 2.3, showed that inventory had increased slightly after declining the prior three months.

Price Increases Less Widespread
Both price indexes declined, indicating a slower pace of growth in input and selling prices alike. The prices paid index fell thirteen points to 11.4, its lowest level in more than two years, and the prices received index fell eleven points to 6.8. Employment indexes pointed to a modest increase in employment levels and little change in hours worked. The index for number of employees climbed seven points to 10.2, and the average workweek index dropped four points to -1.1.

Growth Expected to Continue in the Months Ahead
Most of the indexes assessing the future outlook were down from last month. Nevertheless, they remained fairly high by historical standards, and conveyed an expectation that activity would continue to grow in the months ahead. The index for future general business conditions fell five points to 41.7. The future new orders index fell three points to 42.3, and the future shipments index declined five points to 42.5. The index for expected number of employees dropped to 12.5, and the future average workweek index fell below zero. The capital expenditures index climbed nine points to 21.6, its highest level in several months, and the technology spending index rose to 15.9.


Purchase Apps up, Refi's up in Latest MBA Weekly Survey
Posted: October 15, 2014 at 07:00 AM (Wednesday)

Mortgage applications increased 5.6 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending October 10, 2014.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 5.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 6 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index increased 11 percent from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 1 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 0.3 percent compared with the previous week and was 4 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

“Growing concerns about weak economic growth in Europe caused a flight to quality into US assets last week, leading to sharp drops in interest rates. Mortgage rates for most loan products fell to their lowest level since June 2013,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s Chief Economist. “Refinance application volume reached the highest level since June 2014 as a result, with conventional refinance volume at its highest since February 2014.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 59 percent of total applications, the highest level since February 2014, from 56 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 8.0 percent of total applications.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) decreased to 4.20 percent, the lowest since June 2013, from 4.30 percent, with points decreasing to 0.17 from 0.19 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) decreased to 4.14 percent, the lowest since May 2013, from 4.21 percent, with points decreasing to 0.10 from 0.29 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA decreased to 3.90 percent, the lowest since June 2013, from 4.00 percent, with points decreasing to 0.08 from 0.15 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 3.41 percent, the lowest since July 2014, from 3.48 percent, with points decreasing to 0.28 from 0.32 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs decreased to 3.05 percent, the lowest since June 2013, from 3.20 percent, with points increasing to 0.38 from 0.37 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.


ICSC Chain Store Sales decreased by 0.7% in Oct 11 Wk
Posted: October 14, 2014 at 07:45 AM (Tuesday)

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Index increased 3.8% for the week ending October 11 - relative to the prior year. On a week-over-week basis, sales decreased by 0.7%.

"Business over the past week was strong across most segments - particularly at apparel stores and wholesale clubs," said Michael Niemira, ICSC research consultant. "With gasoline prices at their lowest point nationally since mid-November of last year, discretionary spending should remain healthy. Therefore retail sales should increase 3.5-4.5% for the month of October," he added.


NFIB Small Business Optimism Index fell 0.8 points to 95.3
Posted: October 14, 2014 at 07:30 AM (Tuesday)

September’s Optimism Index gave up 0.8 points, falling to 95.3. At 95.3, the Index is now 5 points below the pre-recession average (from 1973 to 2007). Four Index components improved, six declined. Two declined by 10 points total, accounting for the entire decline in the Index score. Unfortunately, the two that fell drastically were job openings and planned capital outlays, which are directly relevant to GDP growth and hiring.

Pundits report that the Federal Reserve is planning to raise interest rates, probably around mid-2015. But, the message some observers get is a bit different. Federal Reserve officials have made it very clear that any decision to raise rates, or allow the market to work, is “data dependent”. The premise that rates will rise in 2015 is spun off of the economic forecasts of the Fed governors and regional presidents. Their forecasts have been persistently optimistic. If their forecasts are correct, rates can go up, but if their forecasts turn out to be too optimistic, will rates still be allowed to rise? Recent speeches by Federal Reserve officials have emphasized the “slack” in labor markets and the consequent need for “accommodation”, the code word for buying bonds to keep interest rates low. This in spite of the evidence that indicates the low rates are not stimulating the hoped-for spending and hiring but causing many other distortions. An official end to QE3 does not preclude the Federal Reserve from buying bonds through normal Open Market Operations in the conduct of monetary policy. The Federal Reserve has not been able to attain its goal of 2 percent inflation or its unspecified goals for employment (the unemployment rate was quickly disposed of as a target measure). This obviously creates much uncertainty, not just in financial markets but on Main Street as well. Seeing the Federal Reserve trying to create the very thing they were designed to minimize is a bit disconcerting.

With historically low interest rates, why has the percent of small business owners indicating no interest in borrowing reached record high levels? The answer is obvious except to policymakers in Washington, D.C. Borrowed money must be repaid with interest and few business owners see opportunities to make profitable investments in facilities, equipment or employees. There is too much uncertainty, expectations for improved sales are weak, the economy is not expected to improve substantially and there is little hope that the top concerns of business owners will be addressed in Washington, D.C. While Gross Domestic Product (GPD) growth has been positive, Gross Domestic Expenditures have only recently shown some strength. The difference between GDP and Gross Domestic Expenditures, is exports, the life blood of the performance from large companies. As domestic spending picks up, the small business sector will contribute more to growth and employment. Less clear is what will trigger the improvement in domestic spending. More bond buying will not, it will probably take very positive news from Washington dealing with taxes and regulations to improve the mood of consumers and small business owners. Only 1 in 10 consumers thinks government policy is “good”. This will have to improve before the private sector picks up speed.


U.S. Import Price Index declined 0.5% in September
Posted: October 10, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Friday)

Prices for U.S. imports fell 0.5 percent in September, after declining 0.6 percent in August and 0.3 percent in July, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Each of the 3 monthly decreases was led by falling fuel prices. The price index for U.S. exports also declined in September, decreasing 0.2 percent following a 0.5-percent drop in August.


Wholesale Inventories up 0.7% in August
Posted: October 9, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Thursday)

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that August 2014 sales of merchant wholesalers, except manufacturers’ sales branches and offices, after adjustment for seasonal variations and trading-day differences but not for price changes, were $453.9 billion, down 0.7 percent (+/-0.4) from the revised July level, but were up 5.8 percent (+/-1.8%) from the August 2013 level. The July preliminary estimate was revised downward $1.6 billion or 0.3 percent. August sales of durable goods were up 0.1 percent (+/-0.5%)* from last month and were up 7.0 percent (+/-1.2%) from a year ago. Sales of metals and minerals, except petroleum were up 1.6 percent from last month. Sales of nondurable goods were down 1.3 percent (+/-0.5%) from July, but were up 4.7 percent (+/-3.0%) from last August. Sales of petroleum and petroleum products were down 4.2 percent from last month and sales of farm product raw materials were down 3.8 percent.

Total inventories of merchant wholesalers, except manufacturers’ sales branches and offices, after adjustment for seasonal variations but not for price changes, were $538.0 billion at the end of August, up 0.7 percent (+/-0.4%) from the revised July level and were up 7.9 percent (+/-0.7%) from the August 2013 level. The July preliminary estimate was revised upward $0.7 billion or 0.1 percent. August inventories of durable goods were up 0.8 percent (+/-0.4%) from last month and were up 8.5 percent (+/-1.2%) from a year ago. Inventories of computer and computer peripheral equipment and software were up 4.5 percent from last month and inventories of lumber and other construction materials were up 1.5 percent. Inventories of nondurable goods were were up 0.5% (+/-0.4%) from July and were up 6.9 percent (+/-1.2%) from last August. Inventories of drugs and druggists' sundries were up 1.6 percent from last month.

The August inventories/sales ratio for merchant wholesalers, except manufacturers’ sales branches and offices, based on seasonally adjusted data, was 1.19. The August 2013 ratio was 1.16.


DJ-BTMU U.S. Business Barometer declined by 0.1%
Posted: October 9, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Thursday)

For the week ending September 27 2014, the DJ-BTMU U.S. Business Barometer fell again by 0.1 percent to 98.2 as most indexes reported negative performances. Chain store sales declined by 0.2 percent mainly owing to underperformances in traditional grocery stores, online-only stores and office supply stores. As to the production side, almost all indexes declined, especially electric output, which dipped for three weeks in a row. Coal production and truck production also slumped, down by 6.4 and 1.2 percent, respectively.

On a year-over-year basis, the barometer showed a gain of 1.0 percent, which compares to an average -3.3 percent decline over the Great Recession (ended in June 2009 according to the NBER). After flat lining in 2006, and declining from 2007 through 2009, the barometer bounced back in 2010 to rise by 3.4 percent, which was the strongest increase since 1994 (+4.0 percent), but not so impressive when compared to an -8.0 percent drop in 2009. The rate of increase for the 2013 slowed to 0.7 percent following 1.5 percent in 2012.

The smoothed version of the barometer, which attempts to account for weekly volatility, declined by 0.1 percent to 98.3. Its year-over-year growth rate was 1.0 percent.


Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims Decrease 1,000 to 287,000
Posted: October 9, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Thursday)

In the week ending October 4, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 287,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 287,000 to 288,000. The 4-week moving average was 287,750, a decrease of 7,250 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since February 4, 2006 when it was 286,500. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 294,750 to 295,000. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.8 percent for the week ending September 27, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending September 27 was 2,381,000, a decrease of 21,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for insured unemployment since May 27, 2006 when it was 2,381,000. The previous week's level was revised up 4,000 from 2,398,000 to 2,402,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,414,250, a decrease of 27,750 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since July 1, 2006 when it was 2,406,250. The previous week's average was revised up by 750 from 2,441,250 to 2,442,000.


Purchase Apps up, Refi's up in Latest MBA Weekly Survey
Posted: October 8, 2014 at 07:00 AM (Wednesday)

Mortgage applications increased 3.8 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending October 3, 2014.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 3.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 4 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index increased 5 percent from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 2 percent from one week earlier to the highest level since early July. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 2 percent compared with the previous week and was 8 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

The refinance share of mortgage activity remained unchanged at 56 percent of total applications from the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 7.8 percent of total applications.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) decreased to 4.30 percent from 4.33 percent, with points decreasing to 0.19 from 0.31 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) decreased to 4.21 percent from 4.28 percent, with points increasing to 0.29 from 0.15 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA decreased to 4.00 percent from 4.07 percent, with points increasing to 0.15 from 0.04 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 3.48 percent from 3.55 percent, with points increasing to 0.32 from 0.26 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs decreased to 3.20 percent from 3.31 percent, with points decreasing to 0.37 from 0.51 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from last week.


Consumer Credit Increased at an annual rate of 5.00%
Posted: October 7, 2014 at 03:00 PM (Tuesday)

In August, consumer credit increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5 percent. Revolving credit decreased at an annual rate of 1/4 percent, while nonrevolving credit increased at an annual rate of 7 percent.


Job Openings were 4.8 million in August
Posted: October 7, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Tuesday)

There were 4.8 million job openings on the last business day of August, up from 4.6 million in July, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The hires rate (3.3 percent) was down and the separations rate (3.2 percent) was essentially unchanged in August. Within separations, the quits rate (1.8 percent) was unchanged and the layoffs and discharges rate (1.1 percent) was little changed. This release includes estimates of the number and rate of job openings, hires, and separations for the nonfarm sector by industry and by four geographic regions.

There were 4.8 million job openings on the last business day of August and the rate was 3.4 percent. This was the highest level of job openings since January 2001. The number of job openings increased for total private and was little changed for government in August. (See table 1.) Job openings levels went up in nondurable goods manufacturing, health care and social assistance, and in accommodation and food services. Job openings fell in state and local government and were little changed in all four regions.

The number of job openings (not seasonally adjusted) increased over the 12 months ending in August 2014 for total nonfarm, total private, and government. The job openings level increased in many of the industries and in all four regions.


ICSC Chain Store Sales increased by 0.1% in Oct 4 Wk
Posted: October 7, 2014 at 07:45 AM (Tuesday)

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Index increased 3.9% for the week ending October 4 - relative to the prior year. On a week-over-week basis, sales increased by 0.1%.

"Weather was favorable for seasonal apparel demand, as temperatures cooled some nationally," said Michael Niemira, ICSC research consultant. "According to the ICSC-GS consumer tracking survey business was strong for wholesale clubs, dollar stores, electronic stores, apparel stores and discounters. Overall September sales should increase by a very strong 5-6%," he added.


Employment Trends Index increased in September to 121.68
Posted: October 6, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Monday)

The Conference Board Employment Trends Index™ (ETI) increased in September. The index now stands at 121.68, up from 121.32 (an upward revision) in August. This represents a 6.1 percent gain in the ETI compared to a year ago.

The Employment Trends Index increased for the ninth consecutive month, signaling solid job growth through year end. A combination of positive and negative forces has been driving the rapid decline in the unemployment rate in recent years. Hiring is strong, but productivity growth is weak, and the participation rate continues to decline. None show signs of reversing.

September’s increase in the ETI was driven by positive contributions from six of its eight components. In order from the largest positive contributor to the smallest, these were: Industrial Production, Real Manufacturing and Trade Sales, Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance, Ratio of Involuntarily Part-time to All Part-time Workers, Number of Temporary Employees, and Job Openings.


ISM Non-Manufacturing Index grew slower at 58.6%
Posted: October 3, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Friday)

Economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in September for the 56th consecutive month, say the nation’s purchasing and supply executives in the latest Non-Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®.

The NMI® registered 58.6 percent in September, 1 percentage point lower than the August reading of 59.6 percent. This represents continued growth in the non-manufacturing sector. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index decreased to 62.9 percent, which is 2.1 percentage points lower than the August reading of 65 percent, reflecting growth for the 62nd consecutive month at a slower rate. The New Orders Index registered 61 percent, 2.8 percentage points lower than the reading of 63.8 percent registered in August. The Employment Index increased 1.4 percentage points to 58.5 percent from the August reading of 57.1 percent and indicates growth for the seventh consecutive month. The Prices Index decreased 2.5 percentage points from the August reading of 57.7 percent to 55.2 percent, indicating prices increased at a slower rate in September when compared to August. According to the NMI®, 12 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in September. Respondents’ comments indicate that business seems to be leveling off and there is a slight slowing in the momentum of the past few months of strong growth. They continue to remain optimistic about business conditions and the overall direction of the economy.

INDUSTRY PERFORMANCE
The 12 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in September — listed in order — are: Construction; Retail Trade; Utilities; Information; Health Care & Social Assistance; Transportation & Warehousing; Management of Companies & Support Services; Wholesale Trade; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; Accommodation & Food Services; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; and Finance & Insurance. The five industries reporting contraction in September are: Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Mining; Educational Services; Public Administration; and Other Services.


September Employment increased by 248,000
Unemployment Rate dropped to 5.9%

Posted: October 3, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Friday)

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 142,000 in August, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 6.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in professional and business services and in health care.

In August, both the unemployment rate (6.1 percent) and the number of unemployed persons (9.6 million) changed little. Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons were down by 1.1 percentage points and 1.7 million, respectively.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates in August showed little or no change for adult men (5.7 percent), adult women (5.7 percent), teenagers (19.6 percent), whites (5.3 percent), blacks (11.4 percent), and Hispanics (7.5 percent). The jobless rate for Asians was 4.5 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) declined by 192,000 to 3.0 million in August. These individuals accounted for 31.2 percent of the unemployed. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed has declined by 1.3 million.

The civilian labor force participation rate, at 62.8 percent, changed little in August and has been essentially unchanged since April. In August, the employment-population ratio was 59.0 percent for the third consecutive month but is up by 0.4 percentage point from a year earlier.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed in August at 7.3 million. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

In August, 2.1 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, down by 201,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 775,000 discouraged workers in August, little changed from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.4 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in August had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 142,000 in August, compared with an average monthly gain of 212,000 over the prior 12 months. In August, job growth occurred in professional and business services and in health care.

In August, the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was 34.5 hours for the sixth consecutive month. The manufacturing workweek edged up by 0.1 hour to 41.0 hours, and overtime was unchanged at 3.4 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls was 33.7 hours for the sixth consecutive month.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 6 cents in August to $24.53. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.1 percent. In August, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 6 cents to $20.68.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for June was revised from +298,000 to +267,000, and the change for July was revised from +209,000 to +212,000. With these revisions, employment gains in June and July combined were 28,000 less than previously reported.


Goods and Services Deficit Decreased in August 2014
Posted: October 3, 2014 at 08:30 AM (Friday)

The Nation’s international trade deficit in goods and services decreased to $40.1 billion in August from $40.3 billion in July (revised), as exports and imports increased.

The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, through the Department of Commerce, announced today that total August exports of $198.5 billion and imports of $238.6 billion resulted in a goods and services deficit of $40.1 billion, down from $40.3 billion in July, revised. August exports were $0.4 billion more than July exports of $198.0 billion. August imports were $0.2 billion more than July imports of $238.3 billion.

In August, the goods deficit increased $0.1 billion from July to $59.9 billion, and the services surplus increased $0.3 billion from July to $19.8 billion. Exports of goods increased $0.1 billion to $138.8 billion, and imports of goods increased $0.1 billion to $198.7 billion. Exports of services increased $0.4 billion to $59.6 billion, and imports of services increased $0.1 billion to $39.9 billion.

The goods and services deficit increased $0.6 billion from August 2013 to August 2014. Exports were up $7.9 billion, or 4.1 percent, and imports were up $8.4 billion, or 3.7 percent.


New orders for manufactured goods decreased 10.1%
Posted: October 2, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Thursday)

New orders for manufactured goods in August, down following two consecutive monthly increases, decreased $56.1 billion or 10.1 percent to $502.0 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today. This followed a 10.5 percent July increase. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 0.1 percent.

Shipments, down following two consecutive monthly increases, decreased $5.0 billion or 1.0 percent to $503.1 billion. This followed a 1.4 percent July increase.

Unfilled orders, up sixteen of the last seventeen months, increased $7.0 billion or 0.6 percent to $1,164.5 billion. This was at the highest level since the series was first published on a NAICS basis in 1992 and followed a 5.3 percent July increase. The unfilled orders-to shipments ratio was 6.71, up from 6.62 in July.

Inventories, up twenty-one of the last twenty-two months, increased $0.8 billion or 0.1 percent to $653.9 billion. This was also at the highest level since the series was first published on a NAICS basis and followed a slight July increase. The inventories-to-shipments ratio was 1.30, up from 1.29 in July.


DJ-BTMU U.S. Business Barometer declined by 0.1%
Posted: October 2, 2014 at 10:00 AM (Thursday)

For the week ending September 20 2014, the DJ-BTMU U.S. Business Barometer declined slightly by 0.1 percent to 98.3, extending the weakening trend to two weeks. The decrease in this week’s barometer stemmed from weak performances in production indexes, despite moderate gains in auto and truck production. Electric output dipped again by 4.5 percent, while coal and steel production dropped by 1.4 and 0.7 percent, respectively. As to the consumption side, chain store sales picked up by 0.1 percent following a sharp drop in the last week.

On a year-over-year basis, the barometer showed a gain of 0.9 percent, which compares to an average -3.3 percent decline over the Great Recession (ended in June 2009 according to the NBER). After flat lining in 2006, and declining from 2007 through 2009, the barometer bounced back in 2010 to rise by 3.4 percent, which was the strongest increase since 1994 (+4.0 percent), but not so impressive when compared to an -8.0 percent drop in 2009. The rate of increase for the 2013 slowed to 0.7 percent following 1.5 percent in 2012.

The smoothed version of the barometer, which attempts to account for weekly volatility, fell again by 0.1 percent to 98.5. Its year-over-year growth rate was 1.1 percent.

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