• Advance estimates of retail and food services sales for November were down 1.1% from the previous month but were up 4.1% from November 2019. Excluding motor vehicle & parts, sales were down 0.9% from the previous month, but were up 3.6% from a year ago. Year-to-date, retail sales and food services were up 0.3% from the same period of 2019.
  • Total manufacturing and trade sales for October were up 0.9% from the previous month and were up 2.2% from October 2019. Total business inventories were up 0.7% from the previous month but were down 4.0% from a year ago. The inventories/sales ratio was 1.31, compared to 1.40 in October of 2019.
  • Total Industrial production increased 0.4% in November, following an increase of 0.9% in the previous month. Total Industrial production was down 5.5% from November 2019. The capacity utilization rate was 77.3 in November, 6.5 percentage points below the average for the 1972-2019 period, and 3.3 percentage points below the November 2019 level.
  • The U.S. current-account deficit increased to $178.5 billion (preliminary) in the third quarter of 2020 from $161.4 billion (revised) in the second quarter of 2020, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The deficit edged up to 3.4% of current-dollar gross domestic product (GDP), from 3.3% in the second quarter. The $17.2 billion increase in the current-account deficit reflected an expanded deficit on goods that was partly offset by an expanded surplus on primary income.
  • State personal income decreased 10.0%, annualized rate, in the third quarter of 2020, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the second quarter, state personal income increased 35.8%. Personal income decreased in all states and the District of Columbia. The percent change in personal income across all states ranged from negative 29.9% in West Virginia to negative 0.6% in Georgia.
  • Real state personal income grew 2.4% in 2019 after increasing 3.1% in 2018, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). 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 4.1% in Maine to 0.7% in Hawaii, Wyoming, and Rhode Island. Across metropolitan areas, the percent change ranged from 7.6% in Hanford-Corcoran, CA, to negative 3.2% in Panama City, FL, and Wheeling, WV-OH.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 23 thousand to 885 thousand in the week ending December 12. The 4-week moving average was 812.5 thousand, an increase of 34.25 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending December 5 was 5,508 thousand, a decrease of 273 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 5,726.25 thousand, a decrease of 215.5 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.8% for the week ending December 5, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week’s unrevised rate.
  • Unemployment rates were lower in November in 25 states and the District of Columbia, higher in 7 states, and stable in 18 states, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia had jobless rate increases from a year earlier and two states had little change. Nonfarm payroll employment increased in 17 states in November 2020, decreased in 3 states, and was essentially unchanged in 30 states and the District of Columbia. Over the year, nonfarm payroll employment deceased in 48 states and the District of Columbia and was essentially unchanged in 2 states.
  • Employer costs for employee compensation for civilian workers averaged $38.26 per hour worked in September 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wages and salaries cost employers $26.25 while benefits cost $12.01. Private industry worker compensation costs for employers averaged $35.95 per hour worked in September 2020. Wages and salaries averaged $25.23 and accounted for 70.2% of employer costs, while benefit costs averaged $10.72 and accounted for 29.8%. State and local government compensation costs averaged $52.94 per hour worked. Wages and salaries averaged $32.74 per hour worked and represented 61.8% of total compensation costs, while benefit costs averaged $20.20 and accounted for the remaining 38.2%.
  • Import prices increased 0.1% in November, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, following a 0.1% decrease in the previous month. Prices for imports decreased 1.0% from November 2019. The price index for exports increased 0.6% in November, after increasing 0.2% in the previous month. Prices for exports decreased 1.1% over the past year.
  • Housing starts in November increased 1.2% from the previous month and increased 12.8% from November 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Year-to-date housing starts were up 7.0% from the same period in 2019.  Building permits in November increased 6.2% from the previous month and increased 8.5% from a year ago. Year-to-date housing starts were up 4.1% from the same period in 2019.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed mortgage rates hit another record low. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 2.67% for the week ending December 17, down from last week when it averaged 2.71%. This was the lowest rate in the survey’s history which dates to 1971. A year ago, at this time, the 30-year fixed rate averaged 3.73%. The 15-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 2.21%, down from last week when it averaged 2.26%. A year ago, at this time, the 15-year fixed rate averaged 3.19%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 1.1% from one week earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending December 11, 2020.
  • There were 75,802,551 COVID-19 confirmed cases in the world, 1,677,706 deaths, and 42,797,202 recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University, Coronavirus Resource Center (access date and time: 12/19/2020, 9:00 EST). In the United States, there are 17,466,837 confirmed cases, 313,672 deaths, and no figure for recovered cases. There is something wrong with “recovered” figures. There is a significant drop in the number of recovered. It was 46,857,548 a week ago in the World and 6,246,605 in the US. The world is struggling to control the spread of the virus.

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