Key Economic Indicators – May 8, 2017

·      Total non-farm payroll employment rose 211 thousand in April, following an increase of 79 thousand in the previous month.   Private-sector payrolls increased by 194 thousand in the month, while government employment decreased by 17 thousand.

·      The unemployment rate decreased to 4.4% in April, from 4.5% in March. The unemployment rate was 5.0% in April of 2016.

·      The average workweek of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.1 hour to 34.4 hours. Average hourly earnings increased by 7 cents to $26.19. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 2.5%.

·      The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 19 thousand to 238 thousand in the week ending April 29. The 4-week moving average was 243 thousand, an increase of 0.75 thousand from the previous week’s average.

·      First quarter productivity decreased 0.6% (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the non-farm business sector, following a 1.8% increase in the final quarter of 2016. From the first quarter of 2016 to the first quarter of 2017, productivity increased 1.1%, as output increased 2.4% and hours worked increased 1.3%. Unit labor costs increased 2.8% in the first quarter of 2017, reflecting a 3.9% increase in hourly compensation and a 1.1% increase in productivity.

·      Personal income increased 0.2% in March, while personal consumption expenditures held steady. Real disposable personal income increased 0.5% in March, while real personal consumption expenditures increased 0.3%. The personal saving rate – personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income – was 5.9% in March, compared with 5.7% in February.

·      The price index for personal consumption expenditures decreased 0.2% in March, following a 0.1% increase in the previous month. The core index decreased 0.1%, following a 0.2% increase in the previous month. The price index (headline index) was up 1.8% from March 2016, while the core index was up 1.6%.

·      Sales of domestic cars increased 2.8% in April, while total light vehicle (cars and light trucks) sales increased 1.8%. Total vehicle sales were 16.8 million units in April, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, compared with 17.5 million in January of 2017, and 17.3 million in April of 2016.

·      New orders for manufactured goods increased 0.2% in March, while shipments decreased 0.1%. Excluding transportation, new orders were down 0.3% in March, while shipments were down 0.2%. Year-to-date new orders for manufactured goods were up 5.2% from the same period in 2016, while shipments were up 4.5%.

·      In March international trade deficit was $43.7 billion, $0.1 billion less than the revised February figure. March exports were $191.0 billion, $1.7 billion less than February exports. March imports were $234.7 billion, $1.7 billion less than February imports. Year-to-date the goods and services deficit was $135.6 billion, an increase of $9.4 billion, or 7.5%, from the same period in 2016.

·      March construction spending was down 0.2% from the previous month, but was up 3.6% from March 2016, according to U.S. Census Bureau. Private construction increased less than 0.1% in March, while public construction decreased 0.9%.

·      The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving slightly lower. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.02% for the week ending May 4th, down slightly from last week when it averaged 4.03%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.61%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.27%, unchanged from the previous week. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.86%.

·      Mortgage applications decreased 0.1% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending April 28, 2017.

·      The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing survey indicated that the manufacturing sector expanded in April, and the overall economy grew for the 95th consecutive month.

·      In April, the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) non-manufacturing survey results indicated growth in the non-manufacturing business activity for the 88th consecutive month. Sixteen out of seventeen non-manufacturing industries reported growth in April.

·      The Federal Open Market Committee decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 3/4 to 1%. The Committee indicated that the stance of monetary policy remains accommodative, thereby supporting some further strengthening in labor market conditions and a sustained return to 2% inflation, and stated that the federal funds rate is likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run.

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