• Real GDP decreased at an annual rate of 4.8% in the first quarter of 2020, according to the “advance” estimate by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). In the fourth quarter of 2019, real GDP increased 2.1%. BEA noted:” The decline in first quarter GDP was, in part, due to the response to the spread of COVID-19, as governments issued “stay-at-home” orders in March. This led to rapid changes in demand, as businesses and schools switched to remote work or canceled operations, and consumers canceled, restricted, or redirected their spending. The full economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be quantified in the GDP estimate for the first quarter of 2020 because the impacts are generally embedded in source data and cannot be separately identified.”
  • The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 1.6% in the first quarter of 2020, compared with an increase of 1.4% in the previous quarter. The personal consumption expenditures price index increased 1.3%, compared with an increase of 1.4% in the previous quarter. Excluding food and energy prices, the personal consumption expenditures price index increased 1.8%, compared with an increase of 1.3%.
  • Real final sales of domestic product (GDP less change in private inventories) decreased 4.3% in the first quarter, in contrast to an increase of 3.1% in the final quarter of 2019.
  • Current-dollar GDP decreased 3.5%, or $191.6 billion, in the first quarter, to an annualized level of $21.538 trillion.
  • Personal income decreased 2.0% in March, while personal consumption expenditures decreased 7.5%. Real disposable personal income decreased 1.7% in March, while real personal consumption expenditures decreased 7.3%. The personal saving rate – personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income – was 13.1% in March, compared with 8.0% in February, and 7.7% in January.
  • The Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index decreased 0.3%. Excluding food and energy, the personal consumption expenditures price index (core index) decreased 0.1%. The headline price index (PCE) was up 1.3% from March 2019, while the core index was up 1.7%.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 603 thousand to 3,839 thousand in the week ending April 25. The 4-week moving average was 5,033.25 thousand, a decrease of 757 thousand from the previous week’s average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending April 18 was 17,992 thousand, an increase of 2,174 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. This marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted insured unemployment in the history of the seasonally adjusted series. The 4-week moving average was 13,292.5 thousand, an increase of 3,733.25 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
  • Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 0.8%, seasonally adjusted, for the 3-month period ending in March 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wages and salaries (which make up about 70% of compensation costs) increased 0.9% and benefit costs (which make up the remaining 30 percent of compensation) also increased 0.4% from December 2019. Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 2.8% for the 12-month period ending in March 2020, the same increase for the 12-month period ending in March 2019. Wages and salaries increased 3.1% over the year and increased 2.9%, while benefit costs increased 2.1%.
  • Unemployment rates were higher in March than a year earlier in 253 of the 389 metropolitan areas, lower in 123 areas, and unchanged in 13 areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A total of 45 areas had jobless rates of less than 3.0 percent and 11 areas had rates of at least 10.0 percent. Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 21 metropolitan areas, decreased in 1 area, and was essentially unchanged in the remaining 367 areas.
  • From June 2019 to September 2019, gross job gains from opening and expanding private-sector establishments were 7.3 million, a decrease of 264,000 jobs from the previous quarter, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over this period, gross job losses from closing and contracting private-sector establishments were 7.3 million, a decrease of 93,000 jobs from the previous quarter. The difference between the number of gross job gains and the number of gross job losses yielded a net employment gain of 11,000 jobs in the private sector during the third quarter of 2019.
  • In October 2019, 66.2 percent of 2019 high school graduates ages 16 to 24 were enrolled in colleges or universities, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among 20-year old to 29-year old students who received a bachelor’s degree in 2019, 76.0% were employed.
  • The international trade deficit was $64.2 billion in March, up $4.3 billion from $59.9 billion in February, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  Exports of goods for March were $127.6 billion, $9.1 billion less than February exports. Imports of goods for March were $191.9 billion, $4.8 billion less than February imports.
  • Retail inventories for March, adjusted for seasonal variations but not for price changes, were estimated at an end of-month level of $666.8 billion, up 0.9% from February 2020, and were up 0.6% from March 2019.
  • Wholesale inventories for March, adjusted for seasonal variations but not for price changes, were estimated at an end of-month level of $650.0 billion, down 1.0% from February 2020, and were down 2.0% from March 2019.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed that average mortgage rates reached all-time low. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.23% for the week ending April 30, down from last week when it averaged 3.33%. A year-ago this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 4.14%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.77%, down from last week when it averaged 2.86%. A year-ago this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 3.60%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 3.3% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending April 24th.
  • The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index deteriorated further in April, following a sharp decline in March. The Index now stands at 86.9 (1985=100), down from 118.8 in March. The Present Situation also declined significantly, from 166.7 to 76.4. However, the Expectations Index improved from 86.8 in March to 93.8 in April.
  • The University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment for April plunged 71.8, from 89.1 in March. The Index was 97.2 in April of last year. The Current Economic Conditions Index dropped to 74.3 in April, from 103.7 in March. The Index of Consumer Expectations decreased to 70.1 in April, from 79.7 in March.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank continues to take measures to alleviate the negative effects of the virus. The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent. The Committee also stated: “The Committee expects to maintain this target range until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track to achieve its maximum employment and price stability goals. To support the flow of credit to households and businesses, the Federal Reserve will continue to purchase Treasury securities and agency residential and commercial mortgage-backed securities in the amounts needed to support smooth market functioning, thereby fostering effective transmission of monetary policy to broader financial conditions. In addition, the Open Market Desk will continue to offer large-scale overnight and term repurchase agreement operations.” The Federal Reserve Board also expanded the scope and eligibility for the Main Street Lending Program, to help credit flow to small and medium-sized businesses that were in sound financial condition before the pandemic.
  • As of April 30th, there are over 3.248 million COVID-19 confirmed cases in the world and 230.615 thousand deaths (over 1,005.832 thousand recovered), according to Johns Hopkins University, Coronavirus Resource Center (access date and time: 4/30/2020, 2:20 pm EST) . In the United States, there are 1.053 million confirmed cases, 61.547 thousand deaths, and 124.748 thousand recovered cases. The world is struggling to control the spread of the virus.

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