• Advance estimates of retail and food services sales for January were up 5.4% from the previous month and were up 7.4% from January 2020. Excluding motor vehicles and parts, retail sales increased 5.9% from the previous month, and were up 6.1% from a year ago.
  • Total manufacturing and trade sales increased 0.8% in December, while inventories increased 0.6%. Sales were up 2.5% from a year ago, and inventories were down 2.6% from December 2019. The total business inventories/sales ratio at the end of December was 1.32, compared with 1.39 in December 2019.
  • Total Industrial production increased 0.9% in January, following a 1.3% increase in the previous month. Total Industrial production was 1.8% lower in January than it was a year earlier. The rate of capacity utilization for total industry was 75.6%, a level 4.0 percentage points below its 1972-2020 average, and 1.3 percentage points below its level in January 2020.
  • Housing starts in January were 1,580 thousand, down 6.0% from the previous month and were down 2.3% from a year ago. Building permits in January were 1,881 thousand units, up 10.4% from the previous month, and up 22.5% from January 2020.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed fixed-rate mortgages moving up. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.81% for the week ending February 18th, up from last week when it averaged 2.73%. A year ago, at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.49%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.21% for the week ending February 18th, up from last week when it averaged 2.19%. A year ago, at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.99%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 5.1% from a week earlier week, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending February 12, 2021.
  • The producer price index for final demand (headline index) increased 1.3% in January, following a 0.3% increase in the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The index for final demand less foods, energy and trade increased 1.2% in January, after a 0.4% increase in the previous month. The headline index increased 1.7% from January 2020 to January 2021, while the index for final demand less foods, energy and trade increased 2.0%.
  • The import price index increased 1.4% in January, following a 1.0% increase in the previous month. Import prices increased 0.9% from January 2020 to January 2021. The export price index increased 2.5% in January, following a 1.3% increase in the previous month. Export prices increased 2.3% from January 2020 to January 2021.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 13 thousand to 861 thousand in the week ending February 13. The 4-week moving average was 833.25 thousand, a decrease of 3.5 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending February 6 was 4,494 thousand, a decrease of 64 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 4,632 thousand, a decrease of 120.25 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.2% for the week ending February 6, unchanged from the previous week’s unrevised rate.
  • There were 111,085,606 COVID-19 confirmed cases in the world, 2,460,726 deaths, and 62,622,053 recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University, Coronavirus Resource Center (access date and time: 2/21/2021, 02:24 EST). In the United States, there were 28,077,609 confirmed cases, 497,648 deaths, and no figure for recovered cases. There are recovered figures for US states, but not for the US (some states, including California, do not report it so there is no figure for the country). The real problem is that the global figure has “zero” for the US, which also makes global “recovered” figures wrong. It should be noted that there are other countries not reporting the figures for the “recovered”, the most common reason being not enough follow ups after patients are discharged from the hospital. There was a significant drop in the number of recovered for the world on 12/12/2020. It was 46,857,548 on 12/12/2020 in the World and 6,246,605 in the US. These are among the well-known data issues. The most important and pressing problem is that the world is still struggling to control the spread of the virus.

 

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