Key Economic Indicators – May 20, 2019

  • Advance estimates of retail and food services sales for April were down 0.2% from March but were up 3.1% from April 2018. Excluding motor vehicles & parts, retail sales were up 0.1% from the previous month, and were up 3.3% from a year ago. Year-to-date, retail sales were up 4.0% from the same period a year ago.
  • Total manufacturing and trade sales for March were up 1.6% from the previous month and were up 3.7% from a year ago. Total business inventories were virtually unchanged from February and were up 5.0% from March 2018. The total business inventories/sales ratio was 1.37 in March, compared with 1.36 year ago.
  • Total Industrial production decreased 0.5% in April, following a 0.2% increase as in the previous month. The index was up 0.9% from April 2018. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector decreased 0.6 percentage point in April to 77.9, a rate that is 1.0 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2018) average.
  • Real state personal income grew on average 2.6% in 2017, after increasing 1.5% in 2016, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  Real state personal income is a state’s current-dollar personal income adjusted by the state’s regional price parity and the national personal consumption expenditures price index.  The percent change in real state personal income ranged from 4.5% in New York to negative 1.3% in North Dakota. Across metropolitan areas, the percent change ranged from 14.8% in Midland, MI to negative 5.9% in Enid, OK.
  • Housing starts in April increased 5.7% from the previous month but decreased 2.5% from a year ago. Building permits in April increased 0.6% from March but decreased 5.0% from April 2018.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed that average fixed mortgage rates dropped slightly. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 4.07% for the week ending May 16, down from last week when it averaged 4.10%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 4.61%. The 15-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.53%, down from last week when it averaged 3.57%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 4.08%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 0.6% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending May 10th.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 16 thousand to 212 thousand in the week ending May 11. The 4-week moving average was 225 thousand, an increase of 4.75 thousand from the previous week’s average.
  • The unemployment rate for foreign-born persons in the United States was 3.5% in 2018, down from 4.1% in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The jobless rate of native-born persons was 4.0% in 2018, down from 4.4% in 2017.
  • U.S. import prices increased 0.2% in April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, after increasing 0.6% in March. The April advance was driven by higher fuel prices, which more than offset decreasing prices for nonfuel imports. Prices for U.S. exports rose 0.2% in April after a 0.6% rise in March. Import prices decreased 0.2% over the 12-month period ended in April, while export prices increased 0.3%.
  • The Philadelphia FED business outlook survey for May indicated that region’s manufacturing activity continued to expand this month. The Index was 16.6 in May, up from 8.5 in April. The prices paid index increased 1.5 points, while the prices received index, decreased 2.5 points.
  • The May Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicated that manufacturing activity picked up in New York State. The general business conditions index increased 7.7 points to 17.8 in May, from 10.1 in April. The prices paid index decreased 1.1 points to 26.2, while the prices received index decreased 1.6 points to 12.4.

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