U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

March 28, 2019

U.S. Economic Indicators

Initial jobless claims fell 5,000 to 211,000 last week. The four-week moving average fell 3,250 to 217,250. DOL Report

The third estimate of Q4 GDP indicates that the U.S. economy expanded at an annualized rate of 2.2%, down from February’s initial estimate of 2.6%. The reading reflects downward revisions to personal consumption expenditures, government spending, and nonresidential fixed investment, which were partially offset by downward revision to imports. BEA Report

The National Association of Realtors pending home sales decreased 1.0% in February (down 4.9% Y/Y).  NAR characterized the drop as a minor decline coming off a solid gain in the prior month.  NAR Report

U.S. News

The Wall Street Journal reports that Kansas City Fed President Esther George voiced support to hold rates steady for now, suggesting the Fed should use this time to assess how last year’s four rate hikes affected the economy. She stated that job gains, wage increases, and consumer confidence are expected to support consumer spending in the near term but noted the medium term risk of slower growth abroad. WSJ

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

March 27, 2019

U.S. Economic Indicators

The U.S. trade deficit decreased from $59.9 billion in December (revised) to $51.1 billion in January. The goods deficit fell $8.2 billion while the services surplus increased $0.5 billion. Census Bureau Report

U.S. News

Nick Timiraos of the Wall Street Journal reports that some Federal Reserve officials say it is too soon to consider cutting U.S. interest rates despite slowing global growth. Given the recent yield curve inversion, investors believe the Fed is finished raising rates and increasingly expect officials to lower them. WSJ

The Wall Street Journal reports that European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has signaled concern about the adverse effects of negative interest rates, a controversial policy tool that reduces borrowing costs and weakens an economy’s exchange rate. Negative interest rates are being implemented across Europe, including in Sweden, Switzerland, and Denmark, as central banks seek to spur economic activity amid a decelerating global economy. WSJ

According to the Financial Times, growth in U.S. home prices cooled in January following a lackluster 2018 as unaffordable homes keep some would-be buyers on the sidelines. Rising mortgage rates, elevated property values, and limited property listings discouraged prospective buyers, while home builders felt pressure from high commodity prices and labor shortages. FT

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

March 26, 2019

U.S. Economic Indicators

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index declined from 131.4 in February to 124.1 in March. The Index declined after rebounding in February, driven largely by a decline in the Present Situation Index which reflects consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions.  Conference Board Report

Privately-owned housing starts dropped 8.7% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.16 million (down 9.9% year-over-year). Housing permits fell 1.6% to a 1.30 million annual pace in February and are down 2.0% on the year.  Census Bureau Report

U.S. News

The Wall Street Journal reports that Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren says the central bank’s balance sheet drawdown was not the cause of financial market volatility at the end of 2018. Rather, Rosengren submitted that financial volatility was caused by concerns about the international economy, trade disputes, and the U.S. government shutdown. WSJ

According to the Wall Street Journal, Canada’s foreign minister indicated the government might delay ratification of the revised North American Free-Trade Agreement, now known as USMCA, until the Trump administration lifts tariffs against Canadian steel and aluminum. Canada has levied a 25% tariff on steel imports and 10% tariff on aluminum imports from the U.S in retaliation. WSJ

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

March 25, 2019

U.S. News

The Wall Street Journal reports that since bottoming out in September 2015, labor force participation has stabilized around 63% despite downward pressure from an aging population. High numbers of job openings and steadily rising wages have pulled in both workers in their prime working years and those of retirement age, allowing the economy to grow faster without pushing up inflation. WSJ

According to the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans does not expect the Fed to hike interest rates until the second half of next year. Evans also believes the fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain solid, although there is more downside risk than upward potential as the economy softens more than expected. WSJ

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

March 22, 2019

U.S. Economic Indicators

Existing home sales jumped 11.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.51 million in February, but are 1.8% below year-ago levels. NAR notes that lower mortgage rates, more inventory, and rising consumer income and confidence drove the rebound in sales. NAR Report

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that wholesale merchant inventories rose 1.2% in January to $669.9 billion. Inventories were up 7.7% year-over-year. Census Report

U.S. News

The Financial Times reports that U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has warned that negotiations to resolve the trade conflict with China have hit a rough patch. U.S. farmers struggling under retaliatory tariffs are counting on a deal to include increased Chinese purchases of U.S. agricultural products such as soybeans, corn, and poultry, but China’s willingness to make concessions remains unclear. FT