U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

March 26, 2020

U.S. Economic Indicators

The third estimate of Q4 2019 GDP indicates that the U.S. economy expanded at an annualized rate of 2.1%, unchanged from the prior estimate. The increase in real GDP reflects positive contributions from consumer spending, net exports, government spending, and residential investment that were partly offset by negative contributions from business investment and private inventories. BEA Report

The U.S. Census Bureau Advance Economic Indicators Report shows that the goods deficit narrowed to $59.9 billion in February from $65.9 billion in January. Meanwhile, wholesale inventories fell 0.5% and retail inventories declined 0.3%. Census Bureau Report

Initial jobless claims increased 3,001,000 to 3,283,000 last week, the highest level of initial claims in the history of the series. The four-week moving average increased 765,750 to 998,250. DOL Report

U.S. News

The Financial Times reports that the U.S. is increasing pressure on Saudi Arabia to back down from its price war with Russia and restore stability to global energy markets. However, with global oil demand widely expected to peak in little more than a decade, the kingdom has a strong incentive to keep prices low to knock out smaller rivals – like U.S. shale producers – to gain a larger share of the remaining market.  FT

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

March 25, 2020

U.S. Economic Indicators

New orders of manufactured durable goods rose 1.2% in February after rising 0.1% (revised) in January. Excluding transportation, new orders fell 0.6% last month after rising 0.6% the month before. Census Bureau Report

U.S. News

The Washington Post reports that Senate leadership and White House officials have come to an agreement on the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package that the Senate is set to vote on later this afternoon. The legislation would create a $367 billion loan program for small businesses, establish a $500 billion lending fund for industries and states, significantly boost unemployment insurance benefits, and send direct payments of $1,200 to many Americans. WaPo

According to the Financial Times, companies are drawing down credit lines at unheard of speeds, drawing at least $124 billion from credit lines in just the last three weeks. While banks have been able to handle the torrent of capital request so far, lending in other areas may suffer if bank capital becomes severely constrained by revolving credit obligations. FT

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

March 24, 2020

U.S. Economic Indicators

New home sales declined 4.4% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 765,000 but were up 14.3% from year-ago levels. The median sales price rose to $345,900 and the inventory of new homes edged up to 5.0 months at the current sales rate. Census Bureau Report

U.S. News

The Financial Times reports that business activity in the eurozone plummeted to a record low in March, according to the IHS Markit composite purchasing managers’ index reading of 31.34 – the equivalent of an 8% annualized decline in GDP. Consumer-facing industries, such as transportation and hotels, were the hardest hit, with the French finance minister comparing the recent deterioration to the worldwide economic depression of 1929. FT

According to the New York Times, Senate Democrats and Secretary Mnuchin announced they were close to an agreement on a nearly $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, raising hopes that Congress could pass the measure by Tuesday evening. As talks progressed late Monday night, it appeared that a key dispute had been resolved regarding oversight of the $500 billion stabilization fund to bail out distressed companies; other bill provisions include increased funding for struggling hospitals and a large expansion of the unemployment insurance program. NYT

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

March 23, 2020

U.S. Economic Indicators

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index improved from -0.33 (revised) in January to +0.16 in February, though the report notes that the data for February are unlikely to have been affected much by the COVID-19 outbreak. Measures of production, personal consumption & housing, and employment contributed positively to the headline index, while the indicator for sales, orders, & inventories subtracted from the headline index. Chicago Fed Report

U.S. News

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Fed is massively expanding lending programs aimed at keeping credit markets functioning, expanding its facilities to include corporate and municipal debt while setting no upper bound on its purchase of Treasury and mortgage securities. A proposal currently before Congress would provide $425 billion to the Treasury, allowing the Fed to support riskier types of financing without having to be as concerned with bearing credit losses. WSJ

According to the Washington Post, Senate leadership and Trump officials are resuming talks this morning after Democrats blocked the latest coronavirus stimulus bill from advancing Sunday night, citing a lack of provisions for helping households, hospitals, and health professionals. The enormous stimulus bill under consideration aims to pump money into the economy through payments to individuals and businesses to stem the tide of layoffs and the sharp contraction in consumer spending. WaPo

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

March 20, 2020

U.S. Economic Indicators

Existing home sales rose 6.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.77 million in February and were up 7.2% compared to a year ago. Home sales declined in the Northeast but increased in the South, West, and Midwest. NAR Report

U.S. News

The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. is considering a number of policy interventions including diplomatic action and domestic production cuts to get Russia and Saudi Arabia to back down from their current oil price standoff. The Energy Department has already announced plans to purchase at least 30 million barrels from domestic producers in an effort to prop up the U.S. oil sector as already-struggling producers are hit hard by the historic drop in prices. WSJ

According to the Washington Post, the massive economic stimulus bill released by Senate Republicans this week is facing attacks from all sides as lawmakers disagree about the structure of direct payments and size of loans to airlines and other industries. Disputes over the contents of the bill threaten lawmakers’ ambitious timeline for getting the legislation through the Senate by Monday in a frantic effort to mitigate the rapidly-multiplying economic consequences of the coronavirus spread. WaPo