U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

June 17, 2020

U.S. Economic Indicators

Privately-owned housing starts rose 4.3% in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 974,000 (down 23.2% year-over-year). Housing permits rose 14.4% to a 1.22 million annual pace in May (down 8.8% from last year). Census Bureau Report

U.S. News

According to the Wall Street Journal, the International Energy Agency predicts that oil demand will experience a record rebound in 2021 of 5.7 million barrels a day as the global economy reopens. Despite a major contraction in oil demand due to the pandemic, production cuts have already helped stabilize the market and futures are up 25% over the past month. WSJ

The New York Times reports that the largest declines in consumer spending have come from the highest-earning quarter of Americans, which has important implications for many low-wage service sector employees who rely on spending by high-income consumers. While spending among poorer Americans has improved thanks to federal stimulus checks, service sector incomes are unlikely to recover until the public health crisis is resolved. NYT

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

June 16, 2020

U.S. Economic Indicators

Retail sales rose 17.7% in May but were down 6.1% from a year ago. Core sales – which exclude autos, gasoline, building materials, and food services – increased 11.0%. Census Bureau Report

Industrial production increased 1.4% in May but is down 15.3% year-over-year. Capacity utilization increased 0.8 point to 64.8. Fed Report

Business inventories fell 1.3% in April and were down 2.3% from April of last year. Manufacturers’ sales declined 13.5% in April and were down 19.4% compared to a year ago. Census Bureau Report

The NAHB Housing Market Index jumped 21 points to 58 in June. NAHB notes that the housing market is benefiting from low interest rates, increased consumer confidence, and heightened demand for single family homes in lower density areas. NAHB Report

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

June 15, 2020

U.S. Economic Indicators

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that business activity has steadied after two straight months of decline, as the headline index rose 48.3 points to -0.2. The new orders index rose 41.8 points to -0.6, the shipments index rose 42.3 points to 3.3, and the index for the number of employees rose 2.6 points to -3.5. NY Fed Report

U.S. News

The Financial Times reports that a drop in energy demand due to coronavirus has sent US exports of liquefied natural gas plummeting, with shipments of LNG from US ports expected to fall 60% in July from their peak in January. The United States has been pushed out of the market as US prices exceed those in Europe and Asia, though revenues from long-term contracts are helping to keep plant operators afloat for now. FT

The Washington Post reports that the surge in demand for gloves, masks, and disinfectants as businesses start to reopen has led to a dramatic increase in prices for these items, putting additional strain on businesses already hit by the initial lockdowns. Small businesses are among the hardest hit by the spike in prices, as they have no choice but to compete with larger companies with more purchasing power for limited protective resources or risk violating reopening protocols. WaPo

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

June 12, 2020

U.S. Economic Indicators

The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index rose 6.6 points to 78.9 in the preliminary June reading but is down 19.3 points from June of last year. The Index of Consumer Expectations rose 7.2 points to 73.1, while the Current Economic Conditions Index rose 5.5 points to 87.8. University of Michigan

U.S. News

A recent survey by the Wall Street Journal found that more than two-thirds of economists expect the economic recovery to begin in the third quarter of 2020, though most expect the recovery to be slow and follow a gradual “swoosh” pattern. Projections for end-of-year unemployment and GDP growth improved slightly from the prior month’s survey, with December unemployment projected to be 9.6%, while 2020 GDP is forecast to shrink 5.9%. WSJ

The New York Times reports that lawmakers introduced bipartisan legislation this week that would invest billions of dollars over the next decade into the U.S. semiconductor industry – the latest effort in the shifting Washington consensus to combat Chinese technological ambitions. While congress has subsidized the semiconductor industry in the past, the current bill’s emphasis on domestic manufacturing is a consequence of the pandemic which has raised concerns of over-reliance on foreign electronics supply chains. NYT

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

June 11, 2020

U.S. Economic Indicators

The headline Producer Price Index (“PPI”) for final demand rose 0.4% in May but is down 0.8% year-over-year. The core – which removes the volatile prices of food, energy, and trade services – rose 0.1% in May but is down 0.4% from a year ago, the largest year-over-year decline since the index began in 2013. BLS Report

Initial jobless claims fell 355,000 to 1,542,000 last week. The four-week moving average decreased 286,250 to 2,002,000. DOL Report

U.S. News

According to the Financial Times, data published yesterday by Mastercard suggests that retail sales in the United States are picking up, with sales in home improvement, ecommerce, and groceries leading the recovery. Although May sales at many retailers are down year-over-year, this past month’s sales exceeded expectations and have consistently increased from the start of reopening, suggesting that consumer spending may be on the mend faster than expected. FT