• Advance estimates of retail and food services sales for January were up 0.2% from December and were up 2.3% from Januaary 2018. Excluding motor vehicle & parts, sales were up 0.9% from the previous month, and were up 2.8% from a year ago.
  • Total manufacturing and trade sales for December were down 1.0% from the previous month but were up 2.1% from December 2017. Total business inventories were up 0.6% from the previous month and were up 4.8% from a year ago. The inventories/sales ratio was 1.47, compared with 1.43 in December of 2017.
  • New orders for manufactured durable goods in January increased 0.4%, while shipments decreased 0.5%. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 0.1%.  Excluding defense, new orders increased 0.7%.
  • Total Industrial production edged up 0.1% in February, after a decrease of 0.4% in the previous month. Total Industrial production was up 3.5% from February 2018. The capacity utilization rate was 78.2 in February, 1.6 percentage points below the average for the 1972-2018 period, but a percentage point above a year ago.
  • Sales of new single‐family houses in January 2019 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 607thousand, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.   This is 6.9% below the revised December rate of 652 thousand and is 4.1% below the January 2018 estimate of 633 thousand.  The median sales price of new houses sold in January 2019 was $317.2 thousand.   The seasonally‐adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of January was 336 thousand.  This represents a supply of 6.6 months at the current sales rate.
  • Construction spending increased 1.3% in January. The January figure is 0.3% above the January 2018 figure. Total private construction increased 0.2% in January, while total public construction increased 4.9%.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates dropping. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.31% for the week ending March 14, down from last week when it averaged 4.41%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 4.44%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.76%, down from last week when it averaged 3.83%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 3.90%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 2.3% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending March 8th.
  • The federal budget had a surplus of $8.7 billion in January, compared with a deficit of $13.5 billion in December and a surplus of $49.2 billion in January of 2018. The cumulative deficit for the first four months of the fiscal year 2019 was $310.3 billion, compared with a deficit of $175.7 billion during the same period of the previous fiscal year.
  • The import price index increased 0.6% in February, following a 0.1% increase in the previous month. The export price index increased 0.6% in February, following a 0.5% decrease in the previous month. The import price index decreased 1.3% from February 2018, while export prices increased 0.3%.
  • The producer price index for final demand (headline index) increased 0.1% in February, following a decrease of 0.1% in the previous month. The index for final demand less foods, energy, and trade increased 0.1%, following an increase 0.2% as in the previous month. The producer price index for final demand (headline index) was up 1.9% from February 2018 to February 2019, while the index for final demand less foods, energy, and trade was up 2.3%.
  • The consumer price index (headline index) increased 0.2% in February, after holding steady in January. The core index increased 0.1%, following a 0.2% increase as in the previous month. The consumer price index increased 1.5% for the 12-month period ending in February, while the core index rose 2.1%.
  • Real average hourly earnings for all employees increased 0.3% from January to February. This result stems from a 0.4% increase in average hourly earnings offset by a 0.2% increase in the consumer price index for all urban consumers.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 6 thousand to 229 thousand in the week ending March 9. The 4-week moving average was 223.75 thousand, a decrease of 2.5 thousand from the previous week’s average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending March 2 was 1,776 thousand, an increase of 18 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 1,766.25 thousand, a decrease of a thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
  • The number of job openings reached a series high of 7.335 million on the last business day of December, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the month, hires and separations little changed at 5.907 million and 5.545 million, respectively.
  • Unemployment rates were lower in January in 3 states, higher in 3 states, and stable in 44 states and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nine states had jobless rate decreases from a year earlier, 1 state had an increase, and 40 states and the District of Columbia had little or no change. Over the year, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 26 states, and essentially unchanged in 24 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Unemployment rates were lower in January than a year earlier in 199 of the 389 metropolitan areas, higher in 150 areas, and unchanged in 40 areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 53 metropolitan areas, and virtually unchanged in 336 areas.
  • The March Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicated that business activity grew only slightly. The general business conditions index was 3.7 in March, compared with 8.8 in February.
  • The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment, preliminary, for March increased to 97.8, from 93.8 in February. The index was 101.4 a year ago. The Current Economic Conditions Index increased from 108.5 in February to 111.2 in March, and the Index of Consumer Expectations rose from 84.4 to 89.2.
  • Total non-farm payroll employment rose 20 thousand in February, following an increase of 311 thousand in the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private-sector payrolls increased by 25 thousand in the month, while government employment decreased by 5 thousand.  In February, employment continued to trend up in professional and business services, health care, and wholesale trade, while construction employment declined.
  • In February, the unemployment rate decreased by 0.2 percentage point to 3.8%, and the number of unemployed persons decreased by 300 thousand to at 6.2 million.
  • The labor force participation rate held at 63.2% and has little changed over the year.
  • The average workweek decreased by 0.1 hour to 34.4 hours, and average hourly earnings increased by 11 cents to $27.6.  Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 3.4%.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 3 thousand to 223 thousand in the week ending March 2. The 4-week moving average was 226.25 thousand, a decrease of 3 thousand from the previous week’s average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending February 23 was 1,755 thousand, a decrease of 50 thousand from the previous week’s unrevised level of 1,805 thousand. The 4-week moving average was 1,766.5 thousand, an increase of 4.75 thousand from the previous week’s unrevised average of 1,761.75 thousand.
  • Fourth quarter productivity increased 1.9% in the non-farm business sector, following a 1.8% increase in the previous period. Hourly compensation increased 3.9%, while unit labor costs increased 2.0%. From the fourth quarter of 2017 to the fourth quarter of 2018, productivity increased 1.8%, reflecting increases in output and hours worked of 3.7% and 1.9%, respectively.
  • In December international trade deficit was $59.8 billion, $9.5 billion more than the revised November figure. December exports were $205.1 billion, $3.9 billion less than November exports. December imports were $264.9 billion, $5.5 billion more than November imports. For 2018, the goods and services deficit was $621.0 billion, up $68.8 billion from $552.3 billion in 2017. Exports were $2,500.0 billion in 2018, up $148.9 billion, or 6.3%, from 2017. Imports were $3,121.0 billion, up $217.7 billion, or 7.5%, from 2017. As a percentage of U.S. gross domestic product, the goods and services deficit was 3.0% in 2018, up from 2.8% in 2017.
  • The net worth of households and nonprofits decreased to $104.3 trillion during the fourth quarter of 2018, according to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
  • Domestic nonfinancial debt outstanding was $51.8 trillion at the end of the fourth quarter of 2018, of which household debt was $15.6 trillion, nonfinancial business debt was $15.2 trillion, and total government debt was $20.9 trillion.
  • Household debt increased at an annual rate of 2.9% in the fourth quarter of 2018, while nonfinancial business debt rose at an annual rate of 3.8%. Federal government debt increased 2.5% at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2018, while state and local government debt contracted at an annual rate of 2.2%.
  • January consumer credit outstanding increased at an annual rate of 5.1% to $4,034.9 billion. Revolving credits decreased at an annual rate of 2.9%, while non-revolving credits increased 5.9%.
  • Housing starts in January were 1,230 thousand, up 18.6% from the previous month but were down 7.8% from a year ago. Building permits in January were 1,345 thousand units, up 1.4% from the previous month, but were down 1.5% from January 2018.
  • December new home sales increased 3.7% to an annualized rate of 621 thousand units. The December figure was 2.4% below the December 2017 figure. There were 344 thousand homes for sale at the end of the month. This represents a supply of 6.6 months at the current sales rate, compared to 5.5 in December of 2017. The median sales price of new houses sold was $318.6 thousand, 7.2% below December 2017.
  • Construction spending during December 2018 was 0.6% below the November figure. The December figure was 1.6% above the December 2017 level. Residential construction was down 1.4% from the previous month, and nonresidential construction was virtually unchanged. Both total private construction and total public construction were down 0.6% in December.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed mortgage rates moving higher after weeks of moderating. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.41% for the week ending March 7, up from last week when it averaged 4.35%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.46%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.83%, up from last week when it averaged 3.77%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.94%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 2.5% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending March 1st.
  • In February, the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) non-manufacturing survey results indicated growth in the non-manufacturing business activity (exceeded 50.0%) for the 109th consecutive month. All eighteen non-manufacturing industries reported growth.
  • The FED’s “Beige Book” indicated that economic activity continued expand in late January and February, with ten Districts reporting slight-to-moderate growth, and Philadelphia and St. Louis reporting flat economic conditions. About half of the Districts noted that the government shutdown had led to slower economic activity in some sectors including retail, auto sales, tourism, real estate, restaurants, manufacturing, and staffing services.
  • Real GDP increased at an annual rate of 2.6% in the fourth quarter of 2018, after increasing 3.4% in the previous quarter, according to the “initial” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  • Real final sales of domestic product increased 2.5%, following a 1.0% increase in the previous quarter.
  • The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 1.6% in the fourth quarter, compared to an increase of 1.8% in the previous quarter.  The price index for personal consumption expenditures increased 1.5%, compared with an increase of 1.6%. Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for personal consumption expenditures increased 1.7%, following an increase of 1.6% in the previous quarter.
  • Real GDP increased 2.9% in 2018, compared with an increase of 2.2% in 2017. Current-dollar GDP increased 5.2%, or $1.02 trillion, in 2018 to a level of $20.5 trillion, compared with an increase of 4.2 percent, or $778.2 billion, in 2017.
  • The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.2% in 2018, compared with an increase of 1.9% in 2017. The price index for personal consumption expenditures increased 2.0%, compared with an increase of 1.8%. Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for personal consumption expenditures increased 1.9%, compared with an increase of 1.6% in 2017.
  • Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased in 49 states and the District of Columbia in the third quarter of 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.  The percent change in real GDP in the third quarter ranged from 5.8% in Washington to 0.0% in West Virginia.
  • Personal income decreased 0.1% in January, following a 1.0% increase in the previous month. Disposable personal income decreased 0.2%, following a 1.1% increase in the previous month.  In December, personal disposable income increased 1.1%, and personal consumption expenditures decreased 0.5%. The price index for personal consumption expenditures increased 0.1% in December, while the core index increased 0.2%. The price index (headline index) was up 1.7% from December 2017 to December 2018, while the core index was up 1.9%. BEA stated that “Due to the recent partial government shutdown, this report combines estimates for December 2018 and January 2019. December estimates include both income and outlays measures, while January estimates are limited to personal income. Estimates of outlays for January are unavailable due to a delay in the release of the Census Bureau’s Advance Monthly Retail Sales.”
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased 0.1% in December while shipments decreased 0.1%. New orders increased 7.4% in the year 2018, while shipments increased 7.0%. Inventories increased 3.5% in 2018, and unfilled orders increased 3.8%.
  • Retail inventories for December were up 0.9% from November 2018, and were up 3.9% from December 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Wholesale inventories for December were up 1.1% from November 2018, and were up 7.3% from December 2017.
  • The international trade deficit of goods was $79.5 billion in December, up $9.0 billion from $70.5 billion in November. Exports of goods for December decreased $4.0 billion to $135.7 billion, and imports of goods increased $5.0 billion to $215.2 billion.
  • Privately-owned housing starts in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,078 thousand, 11.2% below the November figure, and 10.9% below the December 2017 level.
  • The S & P Corelogic Case-Shiller National U.S. Home Price Index posted a 4.7% annual gain in December, down from 5.1% in the previous month. The 10-city Composite index increased 3.8% from a year ago, while the 20-city composite index increased 4.2%.
  • U.S. house prices rose 1.1% in the fourth quarter of 2018 according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index (HPI). House prices rose 5.7% from the fourth quarter of 2017 to the fourth quarter of 2018. FHFA’s seasonally adjusted monthly index for December was up 0.3%from November.
  • The Pending Home Sales Index, a leading indicator for the housing sector, increased 4.6% to a reading of 103.2 in January, according to the National Association of Realtors. The index was down 2.3% from January 2018.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed mortgage rates remained mostly unchanged this week. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.35% for the week ending February 28, unchanged from last week. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.43%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.77%, down from last week when it averaged 3.78%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.90%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 5.3% from a week earlier week, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending February 22nd.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 8 thousand to 225 thousand in the week ending February 23. The 4-week moving average was 229 thousand, a decrease of 7 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending February 16 was 1,805 thousand, an increase of 79 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 1,761.75 thousand, an increase of 6.750 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
  • In 2018, annual average unemployment rates decreased in 25 states, increased in one state and were little changed or unchanged in 24 states and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment-population ratios increased in 9 states, decreased in 1 state, and little changed or unchanged in 40 states and the District of Columbia.
  • The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had decreased in January, increased in February. The Index now stands at 131.4 (1985=100), up from 121.7 in January. The Present Situation Index rose from 170.2 to 173.5, and the Expectations Index increased from 89.4 to 103.4.
  • The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment for February was 93.8, down from 91.2 in January. The Index was 99.7 in February 2018. The Current Economic Conditions Index decreased from 108.8 in January to 108.5 in February, while the Index of Consumer Expectations increased from 79.9 to 84.4.
  • The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing survey indicated that the manufacturing sector expanded in February, and the overall economy grew for the 118th consecutive month.
  • The Chicago Fed’s National Activity Index decreased to negative 0.43 in January, from positive 0.05 in December. The index’s three-month moving average decreased to a neutral reading in January from positive 0.16 in December. The Diffusion Index, which is also a three-month moving average, decreased slightly to 0.09 in January from 0.18 in December. Thirty-five of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the Diffusion index in January, while 50 made negative contributions.
  • The Chicago Fed’s National Financial Conditions Index ticked down to negative 0.87 in the week ending February 22. Risk indicators contributed negative 0.37, credit indicators contributed negative 0.34, and leverage indicators contributed negative 0.15 to the index in the latest week.