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March 2020

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Economic Notes for the Week of December 10th

by Karl Schroeder for Finance

Some of the more important manufacturing indexes were released this week, and offered mixed results—on par with recent consensus expectations as we get close to closing out the year.

The ISM Manufacturing Index for November was weaker than anticipated in November, declining to 49.5 versus an expected 51.4 figure.  Details and rationale for these types of surveys are sometimes difficult to quantify, but it appears the hurricane played a negative role in results, as did uncertainty about the upcoming fiscal cliff.  Upcoming new orders declined, as did employment; however, the production and inventory components improved.  This is not a major disappointment, but is a little soft for a variety of well-discussed reasons.
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Economic Notes for November 26th

by Karl Schroeder for Finance

 

It was a relatively short week for economic data due to Thanksgiving, causing many to end the week on Wednesday afternoon, but some interesting housing numbers were worthy of mention.

Existing home sales rose in October by +2.1%, which was a surprise relative to the expected lower by -0.1% result.  The gain was the result of gains in both single-family and condo sales.  Housing starts in October also gained, in line with other housing numbers—up +3.6% which countered expectations of a -3.7% decline.  Multi-family housing continued to be the big winner on the month, while single-family starts were generally flat.  Whether there was an impact from Hurricane Sandy on the results isn’t yet clear in the preliminary data, but any adjustments should become more apparent in coming months.  Housing permits, on the other hand, fell -2.7%, which was a few tenths of a percent better than forecast.

The NAHB index of home-builder sentiment rose to 46 for November, which represented a gain from October and higher resulted than the 41 level forecast.  The levels of current sales and expected future sales both rose, which led to the bullish result.  As a leading indicator of activity, this is certainly a plus.
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Economic Notes for the Week of November 19th

by Karl Schroeder for Finance

It was a busy week as far as economic releases were concerned.  Expect many of the individual numbers to be affected at least to some degree by Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath.

Retail sales fell -0.3% for the week, which ended up being a shade weaker than the consensus drop of -0.2%.  Much of the expected decline was a direct result of the Sandy aftermath, which is a drag for obvious reasons, as well as some payback from strong weeks previous that were spurred by iPhone 5 sales.  There were some data reporting disruptions as well, which is also expected and may take time to sort out due to continued difficulty in getting infrastructure back up and running back East.

Industrial production fell -0.4% in October as well, relative to a forecasted gain of +0.2%—again, the storm was at the heart of the decline.  Manufacturing production also fell -0.9%.  While the exact impact is hard to estimate, the FEMA and Fed estimates point to Sandy holding back production by roughly a percentage point—enough to take us from growth to decline in literal terms (especially in utilities and transportation equipment). 
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Economic Notes for the Week of November 12th

by Karl Schroeder for Finance

The election was the big event this week, and it happened to be a light week for economic releases.

Non-Manufacturing ISM was a bit weaker than expected at 54.2 in October versus an expected 54.5. Some parts of the report were weak, such as forward-looking new orders and business activity, but employment strengthened. The ISM mentioned that Hurricane Sandy had no large impact on the Oct. report, but will end up affecting the Nov. figures. Stay tuned.

Initial jobless claims came in at 355k for the Nov. 3 ending week, which was a drop of 8k on the previous week and below the forecasted 365k figure. Continuing claims for the Oct. 27 week ended at 3,127k, which was below the forecasted 3,257k figure by a fair amount. In regard to the Hurricane Sandy effect, the DOL mentioned that the effect was mixed to some extent—power outages may have suppressed claims in some areas, while it may have bumped claims in others. We’ll likely see more accurate and more complete numbers in coming weeks as the damage estimates become clearer and clean-up efforts help get electrical grids and other resources back to normal.
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Economic Notes for the Week of October 29th

by Karl Schroeder for Finance

Durable goods orders rose more than expected in September, up +9.9% versus a consensus forecast of +7.5%.  The underlying components, however, were mixed, as the transportation component (mostly aircraft orders) made the largest contribution to results.  Ex-transportation, orders were up +2%, and the ‘core’ capital orders measure was flat on the month.  Shipments were relatively weak, with those for core goods only rising +0.9% and revised down a bit for earlier periods. 

The Richmond Fed manufacturing index came in weaker than anticipated for October, at -7 versus +4 for September and lower than the forecast similar level of +5.  The report’s composition was also softer, mostly in the areas of new orders and shipments; however, wages were improved slightly.  Inflation also jumped to the highest levels in almost a year, a reflection on commodity price increases.


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Economic Notes for the Week of October 8th

by Karl Schroeder for Finance

The monthly ISM manufacturing index number for September rose more than expected, from 49.6 to 51.5 (versus consensus expectations of 49.7).  Contained in the report were increases in new orders, production, employment and supplier deliveries (virtually every category).  Non-manufacturing ISM was also higher than expected for September, with a rise from 53.7 to 55.1, which was higher than the anticipated 53.4.  The details of the report showed strong readings from new orders as well as readings of general business activity.  On the more negative side, the employment component fell a bit, and prices paid rose.
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