Key Economic Indicators – August 20, 2018

·      Advance estimates of retail and food services sales for July were up 0.5% from the previous month, and were up 6.4% from July 2017. Year-to-date, retail sales were up 5.5% from the same period a year ago.

·      Total manufacturing and trade sales for June were up 0.3%, while inventories were up 0.1%. The total business inventories/sales ratio at the end of June was 1.33, compared with 1.39 in June 2017.

·      Total Industrial production increased 0.1% in July, following a 1.0% increase in the previous month. The index of industrial production in July was 4.2% above its year-ago level. The rate of capacity utilization for total industry was 78.1%, 1.7 percentage points below its 1972-2017 average, but 2.0 percentage points above its level in July 2017.

·      Housing starts in July were up 0.9% from the previous month, but were down 1.4% from a year ago. Building permits were up 1.5% from the previous month, and were up 4.2% from July 2017.

·      The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates continued to decline. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 4.53% for the week ending August 16, down from last week when it averaged 4.59%.

·      Mortgage applications decreased 2.0% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending August 15th.

·      The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance was 212 thousand in the week ending August 11, a decrease of 2 thousand from the previous week’s level. The 4-week moving average was 215.5 thousand, an increase of a thousand from the previous week’s average.

·      The import price index held steady in July, while the export price index decreased 0.5%. The import price index increased 4.8% from July 2017, while export prices increased 4.3%.

·      The August 2017 Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicated that business activity remained robust for New York manufacturers. The headline general business conditions index climbed three points to 25.6.

·      The Philadelphia FED business outlook survey for August reported slower growth in manufacturing activity. The diffusion index for current general activity decreased 14 points to 11.9, its lowest reading in 21 months.

·      The Conference Board index of leading economic indicators increased 0.6% in July, following a 0.5% increase in the previous month. The coincident index increased 0.2%, following a 0.3% in the previous month.

·      The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment slipped to its lowest level since last September. The Index was 95.3 in August, down from 97.9 in July, and 96.8 in August 2017.

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