Key Economic Indicators – May 16, 2016

  • Advance estimates of retail and food services sales for April were up 1.3% from March, and were up 3.0% from April 2015. Year-to-date, retail sales were up 3.5% from the same period a year ago.
  • Total manufacturing and trade sales for March were up 0.3% from the previous month, but were down 1.7% from a year ago. Total business inventories were up 0.4% from February, and were up from March 2015.
  • Sales of merchant wholesalers in March were up 0.7%, while inventories were up 0.1%.  Sales of durable goods were down 0.2%, while sales of nondurable goods were up 1.6%. The March inventories/sales ratio was 1.36, compared with 1.32 in March of 2015.
  • The federal government budget ran a surplus of $106.5 billion in April, after a deficit of $108.8 billion in the previous month. The cumulative budget deficit for the first seven months of fiscal year 2016 was $354.6 billion, compared with a deficit of $282.8 billion for the same period of the previous fiscal year.
  • The producer price index for final demand (headline index) increased 0.2% in April, following a 0.1% decrease in the previous month.  The index for final demand less foods, energy, and trade increased 0.3%, after posting “no change” in March. The producer price index for final demand was unchanged for the 12 months ended in April, while the index for final demand less foods, energy, and trade increased 0.9%.
  • The import price index increased 0.3% in April, the same increase as in the previous month. The export price index increased 0.5%, after holding steady in the previous month. The import price index decreased 5.7% from April 2015, while the price index for exports decreased 5.0%.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 20 thousand to 294 thousand in the week ending May 7. This was the highest level for initial claims since February 28, 2015. The 4-week moving average was 268.25 thousand, an increase of 10.25 thousand from the previous week’s average.
  • There were 5,757 thousand job openings on the last business day of March, compared with 5,608 thousand in February. The job openings rate for March was 3.9%.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates decreased to a new low in 2016 and the lowest mark in 3 years. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.57% for the week ending May 12, down from last week when it averaged 3.61%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 3.85%. The 15-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 2.81%, down from last week when it averaged 2.86%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 3.07%.
  • Mortgage applications edged up 0.4% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending May 6th.
  • The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment for May, preliminary, increased to 95.8, largely due to more frequent income gains, an improved jobs outlook, and the expectation of lower inflation and interest rates. The index was 89.0 in April, and 90.7 in May of 2015.

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