Key Economic Indicators – February 12, 2018

  • Sales of merchant wholesalers in December were up 1.2% from the previous month, and were up 9.1% from the December 2016 level. Inventories were up 0.4% from the previous month, and were up 3.4% from a year ago.  The December inventories/sales ratio for merchant wholesalers was 1.22, compared with 1.29 in December 2016. In the year 2017, sales were up 7.6% from the previous year.
  • In December international trade deficit was $53.1 billion, $2.7 billion more than the revised November figure. For 2017, the goods and services deficit was $566.0 billion, up $61.2 billion from $504.8 billion in 2016. As percentage of gross domestic product, the deficit was 2.9% in 2017, compared with 2.7% in 2016.
  • December consumer credit outstanding increased at an annual rate of 5.8%. Revolving credits increased 6.0%, while non-revolving credits increased 5.7%. The increase in consumer credit was 5.4% in the year 2017.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 3 thousand to 221 thousand in the week ending February 3. The 4-week moving average was 224.5 thousand, a decrease of 10 thousand from the previous week’s average. This was the lowest level for this average since March 10, 1973 when it was 222 thousand.
  • The number of job openings was little changed at 5.8 million on the last business day of December, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the month, hires and separations were little changed at 5.5 million and 5.2 million, respectively.
  • Unemployment rates were lower in December than a year earlier in 314 of the 388 metropolitan areas, higher in 61 areas, and unchanged in 13 areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 316 metropolitan areas, decreased in 60 areas, and was unchanged in 12 areas.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed 30-year fixed mortgage rate reaching its highest level since December 2016. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.32% for the week ending February 8th, up from last week when it averaged 4.22%. A year ago, at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.17%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.77%, up from last week when it averaged 3.68%. A year ago, at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.39%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 0.7% from a week earlier week, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending February 2.
  • In January, the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) non-manufacturing survey results indicated growth in the non-manufacturing business activity for the 96th consecutive month.

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