U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

April 18, 2019

U.S. Economic Indicators

Initial jobless claims fell 5,000 to 192,000 last week, the lowest level in nearly 50 years. The four-week moving average fell 6,000 to 201,250. DOL Report

Retail sales rose 1.6% in March and were up 3.6% on the year.  Core sales — which exclude autos, gasoline, building materials, and food services — increased 1.0%. Census Bureau Report

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that wholesale merchant inventories edged up 0.2% in February to $668.9 billion. Inventories were up 6.9% year-over-year. Census Report

The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index (“LEI”) increased 0.4% to 111.9 in March but is largely unchanged from six months ago. Despite the solid gain in March, the trend in the US LEI continues to moderate, suggesting that growth is likely to decelerate toward 2 percent by year’s end. Conference Board Report

U.S. News

The Wall Street Journal reports that Philadelphia Federal Reserve President Patrick Harker maintains that the Fed may be able to raise interest rates two more times over the next couple of years. Harker believes the Fed should continue its wait-and-see approach as short-term data fluctuations are assessed, though a strong labor market, muted inflation, and sustained moderate growth are reasons to be optimistic about the economy. WSJ

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

April 17, 2019

U.S. Economic Indicators

The U.S. trade deficit decreased from $51.1 billion in January (revised) to $49.4 billion in February. The goods deficit fell by $1.2 billion while the services surplus increased by $0.5 billion. Census Bureau Report

U.S. News

The Financial Times reports that the U.S. and Japan have agreed to accelerate trade talks by narrowing the focus to agriculture and digital trade. The biggest area of contention is the automobile sector as Japan pushes for lower tariffs on finished cars and parts, and the U.S. aims to reduce its trade deficit with Japan. FT

The Wall Street Journal reports that China posted higher-than-expected first quarter GDP growth of 6.4%, driven by stronger industrial production, retail sales, and property investment. China’s unexpectedly strong performance also reflects the government’s efforts to stimulate the economy through targeted stimulus, tax cuts, and red-tape reductions. WSJ

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

April 16, 2019

U.S. Economic Indicators

Industrial production fell 0.1% in March (up 2.8% Y/Y), after rising 0.1% (revised) in February. Capacity utilization edged down 0.2 point to 78.8 in March. Fed Report

The NAHB Housing Market Index rose 1.0 point to 63.0 in April. Improved builder confidence reflects solid demand for new single-family homes, tempered by affordability concerns due to supply-side headwinds including chronic shortages of workers and buildable lots. NAHB Report

U.S. News

The Financial Times reports that the European Union is seeking a rapid deal with the U.S. to slash tariffs on industrial goods by November 1 of this year. The two sides have yet to agree on the scope of the negotiations as the E.U. pushes back against U.S. pressure for a deal that includes greater export opportunities for U.S. farmers. FT

According to the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans stated that he expects one rate increase towards the fall of 2020 and another in 2021. He anticipates inflation rising toward the Fed’s 2.0% target this year and believes the Fed should allow inflation to overshoot the target to compensate for running short of that goal. WSJ

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

April 15, 2019

U.S. Economic Indicators

The April Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that business activity grew modestly, as the headline index rose 6.0 points to 10.1, indicating that growth picked up somewhat but remained subdued.  The new orders index rose 5.0 points to 7.5, the shipments index edged up 1.0 point to 8.6, and the index for number of employees declined to 11.9; meanwhile, hours worked rose slightly after an unexpected decline last month. NY Fed Report

U.S. News

The Wall Street Journal reports that the International Monetary Fund, backed by the U.S., is pressuring Germany and other advanced economies with budget surpluses to provide economic stimulus to prop up global growth. Germany has run an annual surplus since 2014, but is reluctant to launch a large-scale stimulus program that might discourage indebted countries like France and Italy from bringing their budgets into balance. WSJ

The Financial Times reports that global productivity growth faded in 2018 and is unlikely to pick up this year, dashing hopes that the digital revolution would help economies emerge from a protracted productivity slowdown. There was no increase in the overall efficiency of the global economy last year and no signs of an imminent productivity revival in either advanced or emerging economies. FT

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

April 12, 2019

U.S. Economic Indicators

The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index declined 1.5 points to 96.9 in the preliminary April reading and is down 1.9 points from a year ago. The Index of Consumer Expectations fell 3.0 points to 85.8, while the Current Economic Conditions Index improved 0.9 point to 114.2. University of Michigan

U.S. News

The Wall Street Journal reports that over half of economists surveyed as part of its monthly poll indicated that raising the federal minimum wage would hurt lower-income households by reducing employment. Respondents also expect, on average, for the economy to grow at a rate of 2.1% in 2019, and nearly half expect the next recession to start in 2020. WSJ

Bloomberg reports that Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, is preparing for bilateral trade talks with the U.S. as trade negotiations between the U.S. and China wind down. Japan agreed to talks after being hit by President Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs last year, and is hoping to avoid potential auto tariffs while the U.S. seeks to use agricultural exports to reduce its trade deficit with Japan. Bloomberg

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