• New orders for manufactured goods increased 0.1% in January, The same increase as in the previous month. Shipments decreased 0.4%, following a 0.2% decrease in the previous month. Inventories increased 0.5%, following a 0.1% increase as in the previous month.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 9 thousand to 221 thousand in the week ending March 16. The 4-week moving average was 225 thousand, an increase of a thousand from the previous week’s average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending March 9 was 1,750 thousand, a decrease of 27 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 1,772.5 thousand, an increase of 6 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
  • Unemployment rates were lower in February in 4 states and stable in 46 states and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Seven states had jobless rate decreases from a year earlier, 2 states had increases, and 41 states and the District had little or no change. Nonfarm payroll employment increased in 2 states in February 2019 and was essentially unchanged in 48 states and the District of Columbia. Over the year, 22 states added nonfarm payroll jobs. Job growth in 28 states and the District of Columbia were essentially unchanged.
  • Private nonfarm business sector multifactor productivity increased 1.0% in 2018, following a 0.4% decrease in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This 2018 increase reflected a 3.5% increase in output and a 2.6% increase in the combined inputs of capital and labor. Capital services grew by 2.9% and labor input grew by 2.4%.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates dropped with the beginning of spring homebuying season. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.28% for the week ending March 21, down from last week when it averaged 4.31%. A year-ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 4.45%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.71%, unchanged from last week. A year-ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 3.91%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 1.6% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending March 15th.
  • The Conference Board index of leading economic indicators increased 0.2% in February, after holding steady in the previous month. In the six-month period ending February 2019, the leading economic index increased 0.5% (about a 1.1% annual rate). The coincident index increased 0.2% in February, following a 0.1% increase in January. The coincident economic index rose 1.1% (about a 2.3% annual rate) for the six-month period ending February 2019.
  • Advance estimates of retail and food services sales for January were up 0.2% from December and were up 2.3% from Januaary 2018. Excluding motor vehicle & parts, sales were up 0.9% from the previous month, and were up 2.8% from a year ago.
  • Total manufacturing and trade sales for December were down 1.0% from the previous month but were up 2.1% from December 2017. Total business inventories were up 0.6% from the previous month and were up 4.8% from a year ago. The inventories/sales ratio was 1.47, compared with 1.43 in December of 2017.
  • New orders for manufactured durable goods in January increased 0.4%, while shipments decreased 0.5%. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 0.1%.  Excluding defense, new orders increased 0.7%.
  • Total Industrial production edged up 0.1% in February, after a decrease of 0.4% in the previous month. Total Industrial production was up 3.5% from February 2018. The capacity utilization rate was 78.2 in February, 1.6 percentage points below the average for the 1972-2018 period, but a percentage point above a year ago.
  • Sales of new single‐family houses in January 2019 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 607thousand, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.   This is 6.9% below the revised December rate of 652 thousand and is 4.1% below the January 2018 estimate of 633 thousand.  The median sales price of new houses sold in January 2019 was $317.2 thousand.   The seasonally‐adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of January was 336 thousand.  This represents a supply of 6.6 months at the current sales rate.
  • Construction spending increased 1.3% in January. The January figure is 0.3% above the January 2018 figure. Total private construction increased 0.2% in January, while total public construction increased 4.9%.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates dropping. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.31% for the week ending March 14, down from last week when it averaged 4.41%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 4.44%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.76%, down from last week when it averaged 3.83%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 3.90%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 2.3% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending March 8th.
  • The federal budget had a surplus of $8.7 billion in January, compared with a deficit of $13.5 billion in December and a surplus of $49.2 billion in January of 2018. The cumulative deficit for the first four months of the fiscal year 2019 was $310.3 billion, compared with a deficit of $175.7 billion during the same period of the previous fiscal year.
  • The import price index increased 0.6% in February, following a 0.1% increase in the previous month. The export price index increased 0.6% in February, following a 0.5% decrease in the previous month. The import price index decreased 1.3% from February 2018, while export prices increased 0.3%.
  • The producer price index for final demand (headline index) increased 0.1% in February, following a decrease of 0.1% in the previous month. The index for final demand less foods, energy, and trade increased 0.1%, following an increase 0.2% as in the previous month. The producer price index for final demand (headline index) was up 1.9% from February 2018 to February 2019, while the index for final demand less foods, energy, and trade was up 2.3%.
  • The consumer price index (headline index) increased 0.2% in February, after holding steady in January. The core index increased 0.1%, following a 0.2% increase as in the previous month. The consumer price index increased 1.5% for the 12-month period ending in February, while the core index rose 2.1%.
  • Real average hourly earnings for all employees increased 0.3% from January to February. This result stems from a 0.4% increase in average hourly earnings offset by a 0.2% increase in the consumer price index for all urban consumers.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 6 thousand to 229 thousand in the week ending March 9. The 4-week moving average was 223.75 thousand, a decrease of 2.5 thousand from the previous week’s average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending March 2 was 1,776 thousand, an increase of 18 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 1,766.25 thousand, a decrease of a thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
  • The number of job openings reached a series high of 7.335 million on the last business day of December, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the month, hires and separations little changed at 5.907 million and 5.545 million, respectively.
  • Unemployment rates were lower in January in 3 states, higher in 3 states, and stable in 44 states and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nine states had jobless rate decreases from a year earlier, 1 state had an increase, and 40 states and the District of Columbia had little or no change. Over the year, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 26 states, and essentially unchanged in 24 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Unemployment rates were lower in January than a year earlier in 199 of the 389 metropolitan areas, higher in 150 areas, and unchanged in 40 areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 53 metropolitan areas, and virtually unchanged in 336 areas.
  • The March Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicated that business activity grew only slightly. The general business conditions index was 3.7 in March, compared with 8.8 in February.
  • The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment, preliminary, for March increased to 97.8, from 93.8 in February. The index was 101.4 a year ago. The Current Economic Conditions Index increased from 108.5 in February to 111.2 in March, and the Index of Consumer Expectations rose from 84.4 to 89.2.
  • Total non-farm payroll employment rose 20 thousand in February, following an increase of 311 thousand in the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private-sector payrolls increased by 25 thousand in the month, while government employment decreased by 5 thousand.  In February, employment continued to trend up in professional and business services, health care, and wholesale trade, while construction employment declined.
  • In February, the unemployment rate decreased by 0.2 percentage point to 3.8%, and the number of unemployed persons decreased by 300 thousand to at 6.2 million.
  • The labor force participation rate held at 63.2% and has little changed over the year.
  • The average workweek decreased by 0.1 hour to 34.4 hours, and average hourly earnings increased by 11 cents to $27.6.  Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 3.4%.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 3 thousand to 223 thousand in the week ending March 2. The 4-week moving average was 226.25 thousand, a decrease of 3 thousand from the previous week’s average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending February 23 was 1,755 thousand, a decrease of 50 thousand from the previous week’s unrevised level of 1,805 thousand. The 4-week moving average was 1,766.5 thousand, an increase of 4.75 thousand from the previous week’s unrevised average of 1,761.75 thousand.
  • Fourth quarter productivity increased 1.9% in the non-farm business sector, following a 1.8% increase in the previous period. Hourly compensation increased 3.9%, while unit labor costs increased 2.0%. From the fourth quarter of 2017 to the fourth quarter of 2018, productivity increased 1.8%, reflecting increases in output and hours worked of 3.7% and 1.9%, respectively.
  • In December international trade deficit was $59.8 billion, $9.5 billion more than the revised November figure. December exports were $205.1 billion, $3.9 billion less than November exports. December imports were $264.9 billion, $5.5 billion more than November imports. For 2018, the goods and services deficit was $621.0 billion, up $68.8 billion from $552.3 billion in 2017. Exports were $2,500.0 billion in 2018, up $148.9 billion, or 6.3%, from 2017. Imports were $3,121.0 billion, up $217.7 billion, or 7.5%, from 2017. As a percentage of U.S. gross domestic product, the goods and services deficit was 3.0% in 2018, up from 2.8% in 2017.
  • The net worth of households and nonprofits decreased to $104.3 trillion during the fourth quarter of 2018, according to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
  • Domestic nonfinancial debt outstanding was $51.8 trillion at the end of the fourth quarter of 2018, of which household debt was $15.6 trillion, nonfinancial business debt was $15.2 trillion, and total government debt was $20.9 trillion.
  • Household debt increased at an annual rate of 2.9% in the fourth quarter of 2018, while nonfinancial business debt rose at an annual rate of 3.8%. Federal government debt increased 2.5% at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2018, while state and local government debt contracted at an annual rate of 2.2%.
  • January consumer credit outstanding increased at an annual rate of 5.1% to $4,034.9 billion. Revolving credits decreased at an annual rate of 2.9%, while non-revolving credits increased 5.9%.
  • Housing starts in January were 1,230 thousand, up 18.6% from the previous month but were down 7.8% from a year ago. Building permits in January were 1,345 thousand units, up 1.4% from the previous month, but were down 1.5% from January 2018.
  • December new home sales increased 3.7% to an annualized rate of 621 thousand units. The December figure was 2.4% below the December 2017 figure. There were 344 thousand homes for sale at the end of the month. This represents a supply of 6.6 months at the current sales rate, compared to 5.5 in December of 2017. The median sales price of new houses sold was $318.6 thousand, 7.2% below December 2017.
  • Construction spending during December 2018 was 0.6% below the November figure. The December figure was 1.6% above the December 2017 level. Residential construction was down 1.4% from the previous month, and nonresidential construction was virtually unchanged. Both total private construction and total public construction were down 0.6% in December.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed mortgage rates moving higher after weeks of moderating. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.41% for the week ending March 7, up from last week when it averaged 4.35%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.46%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.83%, up from last week when it averaged 3.77%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.94%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 2.5% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending March 1st.
  • In February, the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) non-manufacturing survey results indicated growth in the non-manufacturing business activity (exceeded 50.0%) for the 109th consecutive month. All eighteen non-manufacturing industries reported growth.
  • The FED’s “Beige Book” indicated that economic activity continued expand in late January and February, with ten Districts reporting slight-to-moderate growth, and Philadelphia and St. Louis reporting flat economic conditions. About half of the Districts noted that the government shutdown had led to slower economic activity in some sectors including retail, auto sales, tourism, real estate, restaurants, manufacturing, and staffing services.
  • Real GDP increased at an annual rate of 2.6% in the fourth quarter of 2018, after increasing 3.4% in the previous quarter, according to the “initial” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  • Real final sales of domestic product increased 2.5%, following a 1.0% increase in the previous quarter.
  • The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 1.6% in the fourth quarter, compared to an increase of 1.8% in the previous quarter.  The price index for personal consumption expenditures increased 1.5%, compared with an increase of 1.6%. Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for personal consumption expenditures increased 1.7%, following an increase of 1.6% in the previous quarter.
  • Real GDP increased 2.9% in 2018, compared with an increase of 2.2% in 2017. Current-dollar GDP increased 5.2%, or $1.02 trillion, in 2018 to a level of $20.5 trillion, compared with an increase of 4.2 percent, or $778.2 billion, in 2017.
  • The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.2% in 2018, compared with an increase of 1.9% in 2017. The price index for personal consumption expenditures increased 2.0%, compared with an increase of 1.8%. Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for personal consumption expenditures increased 1.9%, compared with an increase of 1.6% in 2017.
  • Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased in 49 states and the District of Columbia in the third quarter of 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.  The percent change in real GDP in the third quarter ranged from 5.8% in Washington to 0.0% in West Virginia.
  • Personal income decreased 0.1% in January, following a 1.0% increase in the previous month. Disposable personal income decreased 0.2%, following a 1.1% increase in the previous month.  In December, personal disposable income increased 1.1%, and personal consumption expenditures decreased 0.5%. The price index for personal consumption expenditures increased 0.1% in December, while the core index increased 0.2%. The price index (headline index) was up 1.7% from December 2017 to December 2018, while the core index was up 1.9%. BEA stated that “Due to the recent partial government shutdown, this report combines estimates for December 2018 and January 2019. December estimates include both income and outlays measures, while January estimates are limited to personal income. Estimates of outlays for January are unavailable due to a delay in the release of the Census Bureau’s Advance Monthly Retail Sales.”
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased 0.1% in December while shipments decreased 0.1%. New orders increased 7.4% in the year 2018, while shipments increased 7.0%. Inventories increased 3.5% in 2018, and unfilled orders increased 3.8%.
  • Retail inventories for December were up 0.9% from November 2018, and were up 3.9% from December 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Wholesale inventories for December were up 1.1% from November 2018, and were up 7.3% from December 2017.
  • The international trade deficit of goods was $79.5 billion in December, up $9.0 billion from $70.5 billion in November. Exports of goods for December decreased $4.0 billion to $135.7 billion, and imports of goods increased $5.0 billion to $215.2 billion.
  • Privately-owned housing starts in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,078 thousand, 11.2% below the November figure, and 10.9% below the December 2017 level.
  • The S & P Corelogic Case-Shiller National U.S. Home Price Index posted a 4.7% annual gain in December, down from 5.1% in the previous month. The 10-city Composite index increased 3.8% from a year ago, while the 20-city composite index increased 4.2%.
  • U.S. house prices rose 1.1% in the fourth quarter of 2018 according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index (HPI). House prices rose 5.7% from the fourth quarter of 2017 to the fourth quarter of 2018. FHFA’s seasonally adjusted monthly index for December was up 0.3%from November.
  • The Pending Home Sales Index, a leading indicator for the housing sector, increased 4.6% to a reading of 103.2 in January, according to the National Association of Realtors. The index was down 2.3% from January 2018.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed mortgage rates remained mostly unchanged this week. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.35% for the week ending February 28, unchanged from last week. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.43%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.77%, down from last week when it averaged 3.78%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.90%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 5.3% from a week earlier week, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending February 22nd.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 8 thousand to 225 thousand in the week ending February 23. The 4-week moving average was 229 thousand, a decrease of 7 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending February 16 was 1,805 thousand, an increase of 79 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 1,761.75 thousand, an increase of 6.750 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
  • In 2018, annual average unemployment rates decreased in 25 states, increased in one state and were little changed or unchanged in 24 states and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment-population ratios increased in 9 states, decreased in 1 state, and little changed or unchanged in 40 states and the District of Columbia.
  • The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had decreased in January, increased in February. The Index now stands at 131.4 (1985=100), up from 121.7 in January. The Present Situation Index rose from 170.2 to 173.5, and the Expectations Index increased from 89.4 to 103.4.
  • The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment for February was 93.8, down from 91.2 in January. The Index was 99.7 in February 2018. The Current Economic Conditions Index decreased from 108.8 in January to 108.5 in February, while the Index of Consumer Expectations increased from 79.9 to 84.4.
  • The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing survey indicated that the manufacturing sector expanded in February, and the overall economy grew for the 118th consecutive month.
  • The Chicago Fed’s National Activity Index decreased to negative 0.43 in January, from positive 0.05 in December. The index’s three-month moving average decreased to a neutral reading in January from positive 0.16 in December. The Diffusion Index, which is also a three-month moving average, decreased slightly to 0.09 in January from 0.18 in December. Thirty-five of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the Diffusion index in January, while 50 made negative contributions.
  • The Chicago Fed’s National Financial Conditions Index ticked down to negative 0.87 in the week ending February 22. Risk indicators contributed negative 0.37, credit indicators contributed negative 0.34, and leverage indicators contributed negative 0.15 to the index in the latest week.
  • New orders for manufactured durable goods in December increased 1.2%, following a 1.0% increase in the previous month. Shipments increased 0.8%, following a 1.0% increase in November. New orders increased 8.1% in the year 2018, and shipments increased 7.3%.
  • Wholesale trade, information, and finance and insurance were the leading contributors to the increase in U.S. economic growth in the third quarter of 2019, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Nineteen of 22 industry groups contributed to the overall 3.4% increase in real GDP in the third quarter.
  • January existing home sales were down 1.2% from the previous month, and were down 8.5% from January 2018, according to the National Association of Realtors. The median sales price of existing houses sold was $247.5 thousand, 2.8% above January 2018. There were 1.59 million existing homes for sale at the end of the month.  This represents a supply of 3.9 months at the current sales rate, compared to 3.4 in January of 2018.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed fixed mortgage rates continued on their downward pattern. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.35% for the week ending February 21, down from last week when it averaged 4.37%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.40%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.78%, down from last week when it averaged 3.81%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.85%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 3.6% from a week earlier week, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending February 15th.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 23 thousand to 216 thousand in the week ending February 16. The 4-week moving average was 235.75 thousand, an increase of 4 thousand from the previous week’s average.
  • The Conference Board index of leading economic indicators decreased 0.1% in January, after holding steady in the previous month. Over the six-month span through January, the leading index increased 0.8% (about a 1.6% annual rate). The Conference Board coincident economic index increased 0.1% in January, following a 0.2% increase in the previous month. Over the six-month span through January, the coincident index increased 1.2% (about a 2.3% annual rate).

·       Advance estimates of retail and food services sales for December were down 1.2% from the previous month, but were up 2.3% from December 2017. Excluding motor vehicles and parts, retail sales decreased 1.4% from the previous month, but were up 2.2% from a year ago. Total sales for the 12 months of 2018 were up 5.0% from 2017.

·       Total manufacturing and trade sales decreased 0.3% in November, while inventories decreased 0.1%. Sales were up 4.2% from a year ago, and inventories were up 4.6% from November 2017. The total business inventories/sales ratio at the end of November was 1.35. The November 2017 ratio was also 1.35.

·       Total Industrial production decreased 0.6% in January, following a 0.1% increase in the previous month. The rate of capacity utilization for total industry was 78.2%, a level 1.6 percentage points below its 1972-2018 average, but 1.2 percentage points above its level in January 2018.

  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed fixed-rate mortgages fell to the lowest levels since early 2018. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.37% for the week ending February 14th, down from last week when it averaged 4.41%. A year ago, at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.38%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.81% for the week ending February 14th, down from last week when it averaged 3.84%. A year ago, at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.84%.

·       Mortgage applications decreased 3.7% from a week earlier week, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending February 8, 2019.

  • The import price index decreased 0.5% in January, following a 1.0% decrease in the previous month. Import prices decreased 1.7% from January 2018 to January 2019. The export price index decreased 0.6% in January, the same decrease as in December. Export prices decreased 0.2% from January 2018 to January 2019.
  • The producer price index for final demand (headline index) decreased 0.1% in January, the same decline as in the previous month. The index for final demand less foods, energy and trade increased 0.2%, after holding steady in the previous month. The producer price index for final demand increased 2.0% from January 2018, while the index for final demand less foods, energy, and trade increased 2.5%.
  • The consumer price index (headline index) in January was unchanged for the third consecutive month. The core index, all items less food and energy, increased 0.2% in January for the fifth consecutive month. The consumer price index increased 1.6% for the 12-month period ending in January, while the core index rose 2.2%.
  • Real average hourly earnings for all employees increased 0.2% from December to January. This result stems from a 0.1% increase in average hourly earnings combined with no change in the consumer price index for all urban consumers.
  • The number of job openings reached a series high of 7.3 million on the last business day of December, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the month, hires and separations were little changed at 5.9 million and 5.5 million, respectively.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 4 thousand to 239 thousand in the week ending February 9. The 4-week moving average was 231.75 thousand, an increase of 6.75 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. This is the highest level for this average since January 27, 2018 when it was 234 thousand. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending February 2 was 1,773 thousand, an increase of 37 thousand from the previous week’s level of 1,736 thousand. The 4-week moving average was 1,750.25 thousand, an increase of 9 thousand from the previous week’s average of 1,741.25 thousand.

·       The February Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicated that business activity grew modestly in New York. The general business conditions index was 8.8 in February, compared with 3.9 in January.

  • The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment, preliminary, for February was 95.5, up from 91.2 in January. The index was 99.7 in February of 2018. The current economic conditions component was 110.0 in early February, compared with 108.8 in January. The index of consumer expectations increased to 86.2 in February, from 79.9 in January.
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased 0.6% in November, following a 2.1% decrease in October. Shipments decreased 0.6%, following a 0.1% decrease in October. Inventories, down following twenty‐four consecutive monthly increases, decreased 0.1%.This followed a 0.2% October increase.  The inventories‐to‐shipments ratio was 1.35, up from 1.34 in October. Year-to-date, new orders for manufactured goods increased 7.9% and shipments increased 7.3% from the same period in 2017.
  • Sales of domestic cars increased 0.8% in January, while total light vehicle (cars and light trucks) sales decreased 5.1%. Total vehicle sales were 16.6 million units in January, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, compared to 17.1 million in January 2018.
  • In November international trade deficit was $49.3 billion, $6.4 billion less than the revised October figure. November exports were $209.9 billion, $1.3 billion less than October exports. November imports were $259.2 billion, $7.7 billion less than October imports. For Year-to-date, the goods and services deficit increased $51.9 billion, or 10.4%, from the same period in 2017. Exports increased $157.1 billion or 7.3%. Imports increased $208.9 billion or 7.9%.
  • December consumer credit outstanding increased at an annual rate of 5.0%. Revolving credits increased 2.0%, while non-revolving credits increased 6.0%. The increase in consumer credit was 4.9% in the year 2018.
  • Manufacturing sector labor productivity increased 1.3% during the fourth quarter of 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as output increased 2.3% and hours worked increased 1.0%.  From the fourth quarter of 2017 to the fourth quarter of 2018, manufacturing productivity increased 0.7%, reflecting a 2.8% increase in output and a 2.1% increase in hours worked. Annual average productivity increased 0.6% from 2017 to 2018.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted: “Due to the lapse in appropriations for some federal agencies providing source data, nonfarm business productivity and all unit labor costs data are not available for fourth quarter and annual average 2018. These data will be released in the future.”
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 19 thousand to 234 thousand in the week ending February 2. The 4-week moving average was 224.75 thousand, an increase of 4.5 thousand from the previous week’s average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending January 26 was 1,736 thousand, a decrease of 42 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 1,741.25 thousand, an increase of 4.25 thousand from the previous week’s average.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell to a 10-month low. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.41% for the week ending February 7th, down from last week when it averaged 4.46%. A year ago, at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.32%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.84%, down from last week when it averaged 3.89%. A year ago, at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.77%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 2.5% from a week earlier week, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending February 1.
  • In January, the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) non-manufacturing survey results indicated growth in the non-manufacturing business activity for the 108th consecutive month. In January, eleven non-manufacturing industries reported growth and seven industries reported contraction.

·      Total non-farm payroll employment increased 304 thousand in January, following an increase of 222 thousand in the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private-sector payrolls increased by 296 thousand in January, while government employment increased by 8 thousand. Job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, construction, health care, and transportation and warehousing.

·      The unemployment rate rose by 0.1 percentage point to 4.0% in January, and the number of unemployed persons increased by 241 thousand to 6.535 million. A year earlier, the jobless rate was 4.1%, and the number of unemployed persons was 6.641 million

·      The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) decreased by 54 thousand to 1.252 million and accounted for 19.3% of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed declined by 176 thousand.

·      The labor force participation rate remained at 63.2% in January, up 0.5 percentage point over the year.

·      The average workweek of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.5 hours in January.

·      In January, average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 3 cents to $27.56. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 3.2%.

·      The Employment Cost Index for total compensation rose 0.7%, seasonally adjusted, for the 3-month period ending December 2018, following a 0.8% increase for the 3–month period ending September 2018. Compensation costs increased 2.9% for the 12-month period ending December 2018. Wages and salaries increased 3.1% for the 12-month period ending in December 2018 and increased 2.5% for the 12-month period ending in December 2017. Benefit costs increased 2.8% for the 12-month period ending in December 2018. In December 2017, the increase was 2.5%. Compensation costs for state and local government workers increased 2.6% for the 12-month period ending in December 2018, while compensation costs for private industry workers increased 3.0%.

·      Unemployment rates were lower in December than a year earlier in 250 of the 388 metropolitan areas, higher in 116 areas, and unchanged in 22 areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. A total of 89 areas had jobless rates of less than 3.0% and 3 areas had rates of at least 10.0%. Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 61 metropolitan areas and was essentially unchanged in 327 areas.

·      From March 2018 to June 2018, gross job gains from opening and expanding private-sector establishments were 7.6 million, an increase of 233 thousand jobs from the previous quarter, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over this period, gross job losses from closing and contracting private-sector establishments were 7.2 million, an increase of 536 thousand 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 437 thousand jobs in the private sector during the second quarter of 2018.

·      The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased by 53 thousand to 253 thousand in the week ending January 26. This is the highest level for initial claims since September 30, 2017 when it was 254 thousand. The 4-week moving average was 220.25 thousand, an increase of 5 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending January 19 was 1,782 thousand, an increase of 69 thousand from the previous week’s unrevised level of 1,713 thousand. This is the highest level for insured unemployment since April 28, 2018 when it was 1,794 thousand. The 4-week moving average was 1,737.75 thousand, an increase of 8 thousand from the previous week’s unrevised average of 1,729.75 thousand. This is the highest level for this average since August 4, 2018 when it was 1,729 thousand. 

·      November 2018 sales of merchant wholesalers were down 0.6% from the previous month, but were up 4.0% from the November 2017 level. Inventories of merchant wholesalers were up 0.3% from the previous month, and were up 6.5% from a year ago. The November inventories/sales ratio for merchant wholesalers was 1.29, compared with 1.26 in November 2017.

·      Construction spending during November 2018 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,299.9 billion, 0.8% above the revised October estimate. The November figure is 3.4% above the November 2017 figure. During the first eleven months of this year, construction spending was 4.5% above the spending during the same period in 2017.  Private Construction increased 1.3% in November, while public construction decreased 0.9%.  

·      November new home sales increased 16.9% to an annualized rate of 657 thousand units. The November figure was 7.7% below the November 2017 figure.  The median sales price of new houses sold was $302.4 thousand, 11.9% below November 2017.  

·      The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed fixed mortgage rates moving slightly higher after weeks of moderating. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 4.46% for the week ending January 31, up from last week when it averaged 4.45%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 4.22%. The 15-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.89% for the week ending January 31, up from last week when it averaged 3.88%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 3.68%.

·      Mortgage applications decreased 3.0% from a week earlier week, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending January 25, 2019.

·      The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing survey indicated that the manufacturing sector expanded in January, and the overall economy grew for the 117th consecutive month.

·      The Chicago FED National Activity Index increased to 0.27 in December, from 0.21 in November. The index’s three-month moving average was 0.16, compared with 0.12 in November.

·      The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index decreased in January. The Index now stands at 120.2 (1985=100), down from 126.6 in December. The Present Situation Index declined slightly, from 169.9 to 169.6. The Expectations Index decreased from 97.7 last month to 87.3 this month.

·      The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment for January was 91.2, down from 98.3 in December. The Current Economic Conditions Index decreased from 116.1 in December to 108.8 in January, while the Index of Consumer Expectations decreased from 87.0 to 79.9.

·      The Federal Open Market Committee decided to keep its target for the federal funds rate at 2.25% to 2.50%. The Committee indicated that labor market conditions continued to strengthen and economic activity continued to expand at a solid rate. The Committee stated that “In light of global economic and financial developments and muted inflation pressures, the Committee will be patient as it determines what future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate may be appropriate to support these outcomes.

 

·      December existing home sales decreased 4.6% to an annualized rate of 4.99 million units, according to the National Association of Realtors. The December figure was 10.3 % below the December 2017 figure. The median sales price of existing houses sold was $253.6 thousand, 2.9% above December 2017. This marks the 82nd straight month of year-over-year gains in prices. The housing inventory at the end of December dropped to 1.55 million from 1.74 million existing homes for sale in November. Unsold inventory is at a 3.7-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 3.9 last month and up from 3.2 months a year ago.

·      U.S. House prices rose 0.4% on a seasonally adjusted basis from October to November, the same increase as in the previous period, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) monthly House Price Index. For the 12 months ending in November, U.S. prices rose 5.8%. The annual increases ranged from 4.5% in the West South Central division to 7.4% in the Mountain division.

·      The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed 30-year fixed mortgage rates remained unchanged for the third consecutive week. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 4.45% for the week ending January 24, unchanged from last week. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 4.15%. The 15-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.88%, unchanged from last week. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 3.62%.

·      Mortgage applications decreased 2.7% from a week earlier week, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending January 18, 2019.

·      The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased by 13 thousand to 199 thousand in the week ending January 19. This is the lowest level for initial claims since November 15, 1969 when it was 197 thousand. The 4-week moving average was 215 thousand, a decrease of 5.5 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending January 12 was 1,713 thousand, a decrease of 24 thousand from the previous week’s unrevised level of 1,737 thousand. The 4-week moving average was 1,729.750 thousand, an increase of 1.25 thousand from the previous week’s unrevised average of 1,728.5 thousand. 

·      The Conference Board index of leading economic indicators decreased 0.1% in December, following a 0.2% increase in the previous month. Over the last six months of 2018, the index grew 1.5% (about 3.1% annual rate), slower than the growth of 2.7% (about 5.5% annual rate) over the first half of the year.The Conference Board coincident economic index increased 0.2% in December, the same increase as in November. The coincident index rose 1.2% (about 2.3% annual rate) during the last six months of 2018, slower than the growth of 1.0% (about 2.0% annual rate) over the first half of the year.

 

  • Total Industrial production increased 0.3% in December, following a 0.4% increase in the previous month. The index was 4.0% above the level in December 2017. The manufacturing index was up 1.1% in December, while the index for utilities was down 6.3%. The index for mining was up 1.5% in December. Total Industrial production for the year 2018 was up 4.1% from the previous year.
  • The rate of capacity utilization for total industry was 78.7% in December, compared with 78.6 in November, and 79.8 as the average of the 1972-2017 period.
  • Unemployment rates were higher in December in 4 states, lower in 3 states, and stable in 43 states and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fourteen states had jobless rate decreases from a year earlier and 36 states and the District had little or no change. Nonfarm payroll employment increased in 8 states in December 2018 and was essentially unchanged in 42 states and the District of Columbia. Over the year, 40 states added nonfarm payroll jobs and 10 states and the District were essentially unchanged.
  • Median weekly earnings of the nation’s 115.9 million full-time wage and salary workers were $900 in the fourth quarter of 2018 (not seasonally adjusted), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This was 5.0% higher than a year earlier, compared with a gain of 2.2% in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers over the same period.  Women had median weekly earnings of $794, or 80.0 percent of the $993 median for men.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 3 thousand to 213 thousand in the week ending January 12. The 4-week moving average was 220.75 thousand, a decrease of a thousand from the previous week’s average.
  • The producer price index for final demand (headline index) decreased 0.2% in December, following a 0.1% increase in the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The index for final demand less foods, energy and trade held steady in December, after a 0.3% increase in the previous month. The headline index increased 2.5% from December 2017 to December 2018, while the index for final demand less foods, energy and trade increased 2.8%.
  • The import price index in December was down 1.0% from November, and was down 0.6% from December of 2017. The export price index was down 0.6% from November, but was up 1.1% from December of 2017.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey of January 17th showed average fixed mortgage rates remained flat after dropping for six consecutive weeks. 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.45% for the week ending January 17th, unchanged from last week. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed rate averaged 4.04%. 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.88%, down slightly from last week when it averaged 3.89%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed rate averaged 3.49%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 13.5% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending January 11th.
  • The January 2019 Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicated that business activity grew slightly in New York State. The headline general business conditions index fell eight points to 3.9, its lowest level in well over a year. The prices paid index decreased 3.8 points, while the prices received index inched up 0.3 point. Looking ahead, firms were less optimistic about the six-month outlook than they were last month.
  • The Philadelphia FED’s manufacturing business outlook survey for January 2019 reported that economic growth continued in the region. The index for current manufacturing activity increased from 9.1 in December to 17.0 in January. The prices paid index decreased 6 points, while the prices received index decreased 4 points in January.
  • The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment, preliminary, decreased to 90.7 in January, from 98.3 in December. The Index was 95.7 a year ago. The Current Economic Conditions Index decreased from 116.1 to 110.0, while the Index of Consumer Expectations decreased from 87.0 to 78.3.
  • The FED’s “Beige Book” indicated that economic activity increased in most of the Districts. The majority of Districts indicated that manufacturing activity slowed down, while new home construction, existing home sales, and commercial real estate activity were little changed. Many Districts were less optimistic in response to increased financial market volatility, rising short-term interest rates, falling energy prices, and elevated trade and political uncertainty. Districts highlighted rising entry-level wages as firms sought to attract and retain workers and as new minimum wage laws came into effect. Most Districts indicated that firms’ input costs had risen, but reports were mixed on whether they could pass the higher costs on to customers.