·       Advance estimates of retail and food services sales for December were down 1.2% from the previous month, but were up 2.3% from December 2017. Excluding motor vehicles and parts, retail sales decreased 1.4% from the previous month, but were up 2.2% from a year ago. Total sales for the 12 months of 2018 were up 5.0% from 2017.

·       Total manufacturing and trade sales decreased 0.3% in November, while inventories decreased 0.1%. Sales were up 4.2% from a year ago, and inventories were up 4.6% from November 2017. The total business inventories/sales ratio at the end of November was 1.35. The November 2017 ratio was also 1.35.

·       Total Industrial production decreased 0.6% in January, following a 0.1% increase in the previous month. The rate of capacity utilization for total industry was 78.2%, a level 1.6 percentage points below its 1972-2018 average, but 1.2 percentage points above its level in January 2018.

  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed fixed-rate mortgages fell to the lowest levels since early 2018. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.37% for the week ending February 14th, down from last week when it averaged 4.41%. A year ago, at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.38%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.81% for the week ending February 14th, down from last week when it averaged 3.84%. A year ago, at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.84%.

·       Mortgage applications decreased 3.7% from a week earlier week, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending February 8, 2019.

  • The import price index decreased 0.5% in January, following a 1.0% decrease in the previous month. Import prices decreased 1.7% from January 2018 to January 2019. The export price index decreased 0.6% in January, the same decrease as in December. Export prices decreased 0.2% from January 2018 to January 2019.
  • The producer price index for final demand (headline index) decreased 0.1% in January, the same decline as in the previous month. The index for final demand less foods, energy and trade increased 0.2%, after holding steady in the previous month. The producer price index for final demand increased 2.0% from January 2018, while the index for final demand less foods, energy, and trade increased 2.5%.
  • The consumer price index (headline index) in January was unchanged for the third consecutive month. The core index, all items less food and energy, increased 0.2% in January for the fifth consecutive month. The consumer price index increased 1.6% for the 12-month period ending in January, while the core index rose 2.2%.
  • Real average hourly earnings for all employees increased 0.2% from December to January. This result stems from a 0.1% increase in average hourly earnings combined with no change in the consumer price index for all urban consumers.
  • The number of job openings reached a series high of 7.3 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 5.9 million and 5.5 million, respectively.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 4 thousand to 239 thousand in the week ending February 9. The 4-week moving average was 231.75 thousand, an increase of 6.75 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. This is the highest level for this average since January 27, 2018 when it was 234 thousand. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending February 2 was 1,773 thousand, an increase of 37 thousand from the previous week’s level of 1,736 thousand. The 4-week moving average was 1,750.25 thousand, an increase of 9 thousand from the previous week’s average of 1,741.25 thousand.

·       The February Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicated that business activity grew modestly in New York. The general business conditions index was 8.8 in February, compared with 3.9 in January.

  • The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment, preliminary, for February was 95.5, up from 91.2 in January. The index was 99.7 in February of 2018. The current economic conditions component was 110.0 in early February, compared with 108.8 in January. The index of consumer expectations increased to 86.2 in February, from 79.9 in January.

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