• Advance estimates of retail and food services sales for December were up 0.3% from November and were up 5.8% from December 2018.  Total sales for the year 2019 were up 3.6% from the year 2018.
  • Total manufacturing and trade sales for November were up 0.7% from October and were up 1.0% from November 2018. Inventories were down 0.2% from the previous month but were up 2.8% from a year ago. The total business inventories/sales ratio at the end of November was 1.39, compared with 1.37 a year ago.
  • Total Industrial production decreased 0.3% in December, following a 0.8% increase in the previous month. The index was 1.0% below the level in December 2018. The manufacturing index was up 0.2% in December, while the index for utilities was down 5.6%. The index for mining was up 1.3% in December. Total Industrial production for the year 2019 was down 0.9% from the previous year.
  • The rate of capacity utilization for total industry was 77.0% in December, compared with 77.4 in November of 2019, and 79.5 in December of 2018. The average for the index was 79.8 during 1972-2018 period.
  • Housing starts in December were 1,608 thousand, up 16.9% from the previous month and were up 40.8% from a year ago. Building permits in December were 1,416 thousand units, down 3.9% from the previous month, but were up 5.8% from December 2018.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed fixed mortgage rates generally hold steady. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.65% for the week ending January 16, up slightly from last week when it averaged 3.64%. A year-ago at this time, the 30-year fixed rate averaged 4.45%. The 15-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.09%, up slightly from last week when it averaged 3.07%. A year-ago at this time, the 15-year fixed rate averaged 3.88%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 30.2% from a week earlier week, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending January 10, 2020.
  • The federal government budget ran a deficit of $13.3 billion in December, after a deficit of $208.8 billion in the previous month. The cumulative deficit for the first three months of the fiscal year 2020 was $356.6 billion, compared with the deficit of $318.8 billion for the first three months of the previous fiscal year.
  • The import price index in December was up 0.3% from November and was up 0.5% from December of 2018. The export price index was down 0.2% from November and was down 0.7% from December of 2018.
  • The producer price index for final demand (headline index) increased 0.1% in December, after holding steady in the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The index for final demand less foods, energy, and trade increased 0.1% in December, after posting no change in the previous month. The headline index increased 1.3% from December 2018 to December 2019, while the index for final demand less foods, energy and trade increased 1.5%.
  • The consumer price index (headline index) rose 0.2% in December, following a 0.3% increase in the previous month. The core index, all items less food and energy, increased 0.1%, following a 0.2% increase in the previous month. The consumer price index increased 2.3% for the 12-month period ending in December. The core index rose also 2.3%.
  • Real average hourly earnings for all employees decreased 0.2% from November to December. This result stems from a 0.1% increase in average hourly earnings combined with a 0.2% increase in the consumer price index for all urban consumers.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased by 10 thousand to 204 thousand in the week ending January 11. The 4-week moving average was 216.25 thousand, a decrease of 7.75 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending January 4 was 1,767 thousand, a decrease of 37 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 1,755.5 thousand, an increase of 10.5 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
  • The number of job openings decreased 561 thousand to 6.8 million on the last business day of November, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the month, hires and separations were little changed at 5.8 million and 5.6 million, respectively.
  • Median weekly earnings of the nation’s 118.3 million full-time wage and salary workers were $936 in the fourth quarter of 2019 (not seasonally adjusted), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This was 4.0% higher than a year earlier, compared with a gain of 2.0% in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers over the same period.  Women had median weekly earnings of $843, or 82.5% of the $1,022 median for men.
  • The January 2020 Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicated that business activity grew slightly in New York State. The headline general business conditions index increased 1.5 points to 4.8. The prices paid index increased 16.3 points, while the prices received index increased 10.1 points. Looking ahead, firms were less optimistic about the six-month outlook than they were last month. The index for future business conditions edged down three points to 23.6.
  • The Philadelphia FED’s manufacturing business outlook survey for January 2020 reported that economic growth continued in the region. The index for current manufacturing activity increased from 2.4 in December to 17.0 in January. The prices paid index increased 6.2 points, while the prices received index increased 3.7 points in January.
  • The FED’s “Beige Book” indicated that economic activity generally continued to expand in the final six weeks of 2019. Consumer spending grew at a modest to moderate pace. Manufacturing activity was essentially flat in most Districts. Business in nonfinancial services was growing modestly. New residential construction expanded modestly. Agricultural conditions were little changed, as was activity in the energy sector. In many Districts, tariffs and trade uncertainty continued to weigh on some businesses. Expectations for the near-term outlook remained modestly favorable across the nation. Most Districts cited widespread labor shortages as a factor constraining job growth, and, in a few cases, business expansion. Wage growth was modest or moderate in most Districts. Prices and input costs continued to rise at a modest pace. A few Districts indicated that some businesses were passing along tariff costs to consumers, mostly in retail but also in construction. Some Districts noted that restaurants were being pressured by rising food prices.
  • Total non-farm payroll employment increased 145 thousand in December, following an increase of 256 thousand in the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private-sector payrolls increased by 139 thousand in December, while government employment increased by 6 thousand. Notable job gains occurred in retail trade and health care, while mining lost jobs. Payroll employment rose by 2.1 million in the year 2019, compared with a gain of 2.7 million in 2018.
  • The unemployment rate held steady at 3.5% in December, and the number of unemployed persons decreased by 58 thousand to 5.753 million. A year earlier, the jobless rate was 3.9%, and the number of unemployed persons was 6.286 million
  • The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) decreased by 33 thousand to 1.186 million and accounted for 20.5% of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed declined by 533 thousand.
  • The labor force participation rate remained at 63.2% in December, and little changed over the year.
  • The average workweek of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.3 hours in December.
  • In December, average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 3 cents to $28.32. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 2.9%.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 9 thousand to 214 thousand in the week ending January 4. The 4-week moving average was 224 thousand, a decrease of 9.5 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending December 28 was 1,803 thousand, an increase of 75 thousand from the previous week’s unrevised level of 1,728 thousand. The 4-week moving average was 1,744.75 thousand, an increase of 33 thousand from the previous week’s unrevised average of 1,711.75 thousand.

 

  • Construction spending during November 2019 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,324.1 billion, 0.6% above the revised October estimate. The November figure is 4.1% above the November 2018 figure. During the first eleven months of this year, construction spending amounted to $1,201.6 billion, 0.8% below the same period in 2018.  Pending on private construction was up 0.4% in November, while spending on public construction was up 0.9%.
  • Mortgage rates decreased slightly during the week, according to Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.72% for the week ending January 2, 2020, slightly down from last week when it averaged 3.74%. A year-ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.51%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.16%, down from last week when it averaged 3.19%. A year-ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.99%.
  • Retail inventories for November, adjusted for seasonal variations but not for price changes, were estimated at an end-of-month level of $661.9 billion, down 0.7% from October 2019, but were up 2.4% from November 2018.
  • Wholesale inventories for November, adjusted for seasonal variations but not for price changes, were estimated at an end-of-month level of $674.7 billion, virtually unchanged from October 2019, and were up 3.2% from November 2018.
  • The international trade deficit was $63.2 billion in November, down $3.6 billion from $66.8 billion in October.  Exports of goods for November were $136.4 billion, $0.9 billion more than October exports. Imports of goods for November were $199.6 billion, $2.7 billion less than October imports.
  • The U.S. net international investment position, the difference between U.S. residents’ foreign financial assets and liabilities, was –$10.95 trillion at the end of the third quarter of 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). At the end of the second quarter, the net investment position was –$10.61 trillion.
  • U.S. assets increased by $286.8 billion, to a total of $28.26 trillion, at the end of the third quarter, driven by increases in financial derivatives other than reserves. U.S. liabilities increased by $624.9 billion, to a total of $39.21 trillion, at the end of the third quarter, reflecting increases in all major categories of liabilities.
  • Unemployment rates were lower in November than a year earlier in 223 of the 388 metropolitan areas, higher in 137 areas, and unchanged in 29 areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 51 metropolitan areas and was unchanged in 338 areas.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 2 thousand to 222 thousand in the week ending December 28. The 4-week moving average was 233.25 thousand, an increase of 4.75 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. This is the highest level for this average since January 27, 2018 when it was 235.75 thousand.
  • Economic activity in the manufacturing sector contracted in December, and the overall economy grew for the 128th consecutive month, according to the Institute for Supply Management. The December PMI registered 47.2, a decrease of 0.9 percentage point from the November reading of 48.1. This is the PMI’s lowest reading since June 2009, when it registered 46.3.
  • The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment for December increased to 99.3, from 96.8 in November. The Index was 98.3 in December 2018. The Current Conditions Index increased to 115.5, from 111.6, while the Index of Consumer Expectations increased to 88.9, from 87.3.