U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

December 19, 2019

U.S. Economic Indicators

Existing home sales fell 1.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million in November but are up 2.7% compared to a year ago. Sales grew in the Northeast and Midwest regions while declining in the South and West. NAR Report

The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index (“LEI”) was unchanged in November following a 0.2 point decline in October. Strength in residential construction, financial markets, and consumers’ outlook was offset by weakness in manufacturing and labor markets. Conference Board Report

Initial jobless claims fell 18,000 to 234,000 last week. The four-week moving average rose 1,500 to 225,500. DOL Report

U.S. News

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Trump administration is considering policy proposals to reduce the burden of Americans’ student loan debt, the second-highest form of consumer debt after mortgages. Plans under consideration include refinancing student loans at lower rates, eliminating student debt in bankruptcy, and changing rules for income-based repayment plans. WSJ

The Financial Times reports that the trend of offshoring jobs from high- to low-wage countries is stalling or even reversing as rising labor costs in emerging economies reduce the benefits of shifting operations overseas. Other factors are also pushing many companies towards “reshoring” jobs back to their home countries, including rising shipping costs, a desire to be closer to customers, and concern about brand image. FT

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

December 18, 2019

U.S. News

Greg Ip reports for the Wall Street Journal that even in a prolonged economic expansion, U.S. job creation can only continue for so long before being constrained by a lack of people available to join the workforce. A limited number of working age people, falling fertility, stagnant immigration, and an aging population are putting downward pressure on the capacity for future job growth. WSJ

The Financial Times reports that the United States has indicated it is preparing to shift its focus to the trade confrontation with the European Union after enacting the U.S.-Mexico-Canada-Agreement and securing a phase one agreement with China. U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer stated that the focus will be on using tariffs to reduce the trade deficit with Europe. FT

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

December 17, 2019

U.S. Economic Indicators

Privately-owned housing starts rose 3.2% in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.37 million (up 13.6% year-over-year). Housing permits rose 1.4% to a 1.48 million annual pace in November and are up 11.1% from last year. Census Bureau Report

Industrial production rebounded 1.1% in November (down 0.8% year-over-year) after falling 0.9% (revised) in October. Capacity utilization rose 0.7 point to 77.3 in November. Fed Report

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (“JOLTS”), a closely-watched measure of labor market health, indicated that the number of job openings edged up to 7.3 million in OctoberThe number of hires was little changed at 5.8 million, while the quits rate was unchanged at 2.3%. BLS Report

U.S. News

According to the Wall Street Journal, the United States and Mexico appear to have resolved the dispute over labor inspectors that threatened to derail implementation of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer released a letter Monday clarifying that while the latest version of the pact calls for U.S. Labor Department officials to act as attachés to U.S. consulates in Mexico, such personnel will not be labor inspectors. WSJ

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

December 12, 2019

U.S. Economic Indicators

The headline Producer Price Index (“PPI”) for final demand was unchanged in November and is up 1.1% year-over-year.  The core — which removes the volatile prices of food, energy, and trade services — was also unchanged in November and is up 1.3% from a year ago.  BLS Report
 
Initial jobless claims surged 49,000 to 252,000 last week.
 The four-week moving average rose 6,250 to 224,000. DOL Report

U.S. News

Nick Timiraos reports for the Wall Street Journal that the Federal Reserve left the fed funds rate unchanged during the December FOMC meeting, indicating they will continue to hold rates steady as economic risks are assessed. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell indicated the economic outlook is favorable, though should the outlook change, he would be willing to adjust the policy rate accordingly. WSJ

According to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. negotiators have offered to slash existing tariffs on $360 billion of Chinese goods in addition to cancelling a new round of levies set to take effect Sunday. In exchange, China would agree to purchase large quantities of U.S. agricultural products, safeguard U.S. intellectual property rights, and allow greater access to the Chinese financial sector. WSJ

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

December 11, 2019

U.S. Economic Indicators

Consumer prices rose 0.3% in November (up 2.1% from a year ago). The “core” CPI, which excludes food and energy, increased 0.2% in November and is up 2.3% from last year. BLS Report

U.S. News

Nick Timiraos reports for the Wall Street Journal that Fed officials are likely to hold their benchmark rate steady as they finish up their final rate-setting meeting of the year. Recent statements by Fed leaders indicate that they are comfortable leaving rates on hold in the absence of a significant deterioration of the U.S. economic outlook. WSJ

The Financial Times reports that Congress has just over a week to pass a dozen spending bills to fund the federal government and avoid a shutdown, even as the House prepares to vote on articles of impeachment against President Trump. While both Democrats and Republicans are eager to avoid a repeat of last year’s shutdown, there is concern that Congress will simply run out of time to pass all 12 appropriations bills before the deadline given other pressing matters on the legislative calendar. FT