• Real GDP increased at an annual rate of 1.4% in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to the “third” estimate by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the “second” estimate, released a month ago, the increase in real GDP was 1.0%. The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 0.4% in the fourth quarter, following a 1.3% increase in the third quarter.
  • Real GDP increased 2.4% in the year 2015, the same increase as in 2014. The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 0.4% in 2015, compared with an increase of 1.5% in 2014.
  • Corporate profits from current production decreased $159.6 billion in the fourth quarter, after a decrease of $33.0 billion in the previous quarter. For the year 2015, profits from current production decreased $64.0 billion, in contrast to an increase of $35.6 billion in 2014.
  • State personal income grew on average 4.4% in 2015, the same increase as in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Growth of state personal income ranged from negative 0.2% in North Dakota to 6.3% in California.
  • New orders for manufactured durable goods decreased 2.8% in February, following a 4.2% increase in the previous month. Shipments decreased 0.9%, following a 1.5% increase in January. Excluding transportation, new orders were down 1.0% from the previous month, while shipments were down 0.7%.
  • February existing home sales decreased 7.1% to an annualized rate of 5,080 thousand units, according to the National Association of Realtors. The February figure was 2.2% above the February 2015 figure. There were 1,880 thousand homes for sale at the end of the month. This represents a supply of 4.4 months at the current sales rate, compared to 4.6 in February of 2015. The median sales price of existing homes sold was $210.8 thousand, 4.4% above February 2015.
  • February new home sales increased 2.0% to an annualized rate of 512 thousand units. The February figure was 6.1% below the February 2015 figure. The median sales price of new houses sold was $301.4 thousand, 2.6% above February 2015.
  • U.S. House prices rose 0.5% on a seasonally adjusted basis from December to January, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA). For the 12 months ending in January, U.S. prices rose 6.0%.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving lower for the first time in four weeks. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.71% for the week ending March 24, down from last week when it averaged 3.73%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 3.69%.
  • 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 March 18th.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 6 thousand to 265 thousand in the week ending March 19. The 4-week moving average was 259.75 thousand, an increase of 0.25 thousand from the previous week’s average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending March 12 was 2,179 thousand, a decrease of 36 thousand from the previous week’s revised level.
  • The Chicago FED National Activity Index decreased to negative 0.29 in February, from positive 0.41 in January. The index’s three-month moving average edged up to negative 0.07 in February, from negative 0.12 in January.
  • Fifth District manufacturing activity expanded in March, according to the survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Activity in the service sector improved in March, following a weak February performance.
  • Tenth District manufacturing activity remained negative, according to the survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

Now-Cast® Nails the Numbers!   February 2016 Scorecard

Release Date       Indicator                                                                Now-Cast® Prediction       Actual
Feb. 1, 2016        December PCE Price Index                                     0.70% YOY                  0.70% YOY
Feb. 1, 2016        December Core PCE Price Index                           0.10% MOM                 0.10% MOM
Feb. 1, 2016        December Real Consumer Spending                     2.5% YOY                     2.5% YOY
Feb. 1, 2016        December Real Consumer Spending                     0.20% MOM                 0.20% MOM
Feb. 1, 2016        December Disposable Personal Income                0.30% MOM                 0.30% MOM
Feb. 1, 2016        December Personal Income                                   0.30% MOM                 0.30% MOM
Feb. 1, 2016        December Consumer Spending – Services           1.90% YOY                  1.90% YOY
Feb. 1, 2016        December Consumer Spending – Services           0.10% MOM                 0.10% MOM
Feb. 5, 2016        January Civilian Unemployment Rate                    4.90%                           4.90%
Feb. 5, 2016        January Avg. Hrly Earnings: Manufacturing           0.0% MOM                    0.0% MOM
Feb. 5, 2016        January Avg. Wkly Hours:  Goods Producing       -0.10% MOM                -0.10% MOM
Feb. 5, 2016        January Avg. Wkly Hours:  Mining & Logging       -0.60% MOM               – 0.60% MOM
Feb. 5, 2016        January Avg. Wkly Hours:  Utilities                        0.10% MOM                  0.10% MOM
Feb. 5, 2016        January Avg. Wkly Hours:  Manufacturing             0.10% MOM                 0.10% MOM
Feb. 5, 2016        January Civilian Employment                                 1.6% YOY                    1.6% YOY
Feb. 5, 2016        January Avg. Hourly Earnings: Total Private          0.10% MOM                 0.10% MOM
Feb. 5, 2016        January Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate   62.70%                         62.70%
Feb. 5, 2016        January Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate    0.10% MOM                 0.10% MOM
Feb. 17, 2016      January PPI-Final Demand                                   -0.30% YOY                 -0.30% YOY
Feb. 19, 2016      January Consumer Price Index                              1.30% YOY                  1.30% YOY
Feb. 19, 2016      January Consumer Price Index                              0.0% MOM                   0.0% MOM
Feb. 19, 2016      January CPI – Apparel                                          -0.60% YOY                  -0.60% YOY
Feb. 19, 2016      January CPI – Apparel                                          -0.70% MOM                -0.70% MOM
Feb. 19, 2016      January CPI – Fuels and Utilities                          -3.20% YOY                 -3.20% YOY
Feb. 19, 2016      January CPI – Fuels and Utilities                           0.50% MOM                  0.50% MOM
Feb. 19, 2016      January CPI – Household Energy                         -5.30% YOY                 -5.30% YOY
Feb. 19, 2016      January CPI – Household Energy                          0.50% MOM                 0.50% MOM
Feb. 19, 2016      January CPI – Nonalcoholic Beverages                 0.20% YOY                   0.20% YOY
Feb. 19, 2016      January CPI – Nonalcoholic Beverages                 0.70% MOM                  0.70% MOM
Feb. 19, 2016      January CPI – Recreation                                      0.50% YOY                   0.50% YOY
Feb. 19, 2016      January CPI – Recreation                                      0.40% MOM                 0.40% MOM
Feb. 19, 2016      January CPI – Shelter                                            3.20% YOY                  3.20% YOY
Feb. 19, 2016      January CPI – Shelter                                            0.30% MOM                 0.30% MOM
Feb. 19, 2016      January CPI – Transportation Services                 3.40% YOY                  3.40% YOY
Feb. 19, 2016      January CPI – Transportation Services                 0.20% MOM                 0.20% MOM
Feb. 19, 2016      January CPI – Services less Medical Care            2.40% YOY                  2.40% YOY
Feb. 19, 2016      January CPI – Services less Medical Care            0.30% MOM                0.30% MOM
Feb. 19, 2016      January CPI – Services less Energy                     3.00% YOY                  3.00% YOY
Feb. 19, 2016      January CPI – Information Technology                 0.10% MOM                0.10% MOM
Feb. 19, 2016      January CPI – Used Cars and Trucks                   0.90% YOY                 0.90% YOY
Feb. 26, 2016      January PCE Price Index                                      0.10% MOM                0.10% MOM

… And many, many more!

Note:  YOY = year-over-year percent change; MOM = month-over-month percent change.

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  • Advance estimates of retail and food services sales for February were down 0.1% from January, but were up 3.1% from February 2015. Excluding motor vehicle & parts, sales were down 0.1% from the previous month, but were up 2.1% from a year ago. Year-to-date, retail sales and food services were up 3.5% from the same period of 2015.
  • Total manufacturing and trade sales for January were down 0.4% from the previous month, and were down 1.1% from January 2015. Total business inventories were up 0.1% from the previous month, and were up 1.8% from a year ago. The inventories/sales ratio was 1.40, compared to 1.36 in January of 2015.
  • Total Industrial production decreased 0.5% in February, after increasing 0.8% in the previous month. Total Industrial production was down 1.0% from February 2015. The capacity utilization rate was 76.7 in February, 3.3 percentage points below the average for the 1972-2015 period.
  • Housing starts in February were 1,178 thousand, up 5.3% from the previous month and were up 30.9% from a year ago. Building permits in February were 1,167 thousand units, down 3.1% from January, but were up 6.3% from February 2015.
  • The housing market index of National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Wells Fargo was unchanged at 58 in March. The index was 52 in March of 2015, and 61 in January 2016.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving higher. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.73% for the week ending March 17, up from last week when it averaged 3.68%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 3.78%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.99% for the week ending March 17, up from last week when it averaged 2.96%.
  • 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 March 11th.
  • The current account deficit decreased to $125.3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2015, from $129.9 billion in the previous quarter. The deficit decreased to 2.8% of GDP, from 2.9% of GDP in the previous quarter. The current account deficit in the year 2015 was $484.1 billion, up from $389.5 billion in 2014.
  • The producer price index for final demand (headline index) decreased 0.2% in February, following an increase of 0.1% in the previous month. The index for final demand less foods, energy, and trade increased 0.1%, following an increase of 0.2% in the previous month. The producer price index for final demand (headline index) was unchanged from February 2015 to February 2016, while the index for final demand less foods, energy, and trade was up 0.9%. The index for processed goods for intermediate demand fell 0.7% in February, while the index for unprocessed goods for intermediate demand fell 2.1%. The index for services for intermediate demand increased 0.3%, following a 1.1% increase in the previous month.
  • The consumer price index (headline index), which was unchanged in January, decreased 0.2% in February. The core index increased 0.3%, the same increase as in the previous month. The consumer price index increased 1.0% for the 12-month period ending in February, while the core index rose 2.3%.
  • Real average hourly earnings for all employees were virtually unchanged from January to February. This result stems from a 0.1% decrease in average hourly earnings combined with a 0.2% decrease in the consumer price index for all urban consumers.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 7 thousand to 265 thousand in the week ending March 12. The 4-week moving average was 268 thousand, an increase of 0.75 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending March 5 was 2,235 thousand, an increase of 8 thousand from the previous week’s revised level.
  • There were 5.5 million job openings on the last business day of January, an increase of 260 thousand from December, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Hires declined to 5.0 million, while separations edged down to 4.9 million.
  • Unemployment rates were lower in January than a year earlier in 333 of the 387 metropolitan areas, higher in 43 areas and unchanged in 11 areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 325 metropolitan areas, decreased in 55 areas, and was unchanged in 7 areas.
  • The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment, preliminary, for March decreased to 90.0, from 91.7 in February. The index was 93.0 a year ago.
  • The March Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicated that business activity steadied for New York manufacturers. The current business conditions index climbed seventeen points to its first positive reading since July of last year.  
  • The Philadelphia FED manufacturing business outlook survey for March reported an improvement in business conditions. The indicator for general activity rose to its first positive reading in seven months.
  • The Conference Board index of leading economic indicators increased 0.1% in February, following a 0.2% decrease in January. The coincident index increased 0.1% in February, following a 0.3% increase in January.
  • The Federal Open Market Committee decided to keep its target for the federal funds rate at 0.25% to 0.50%. The Committee “expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant only gradual increases in the federal funds rate; the federal funds rate is likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run.”
  • Sales of merchant wholesalers in January were down 1.3%, while inventories were up 0.3%.  The inventories/sales ratio was 1.35, compared with 1.33 in the previous month and 1.28 in January of 2015.
  • The federal government budget ran a deficit of $192.6 billion in February, after a surplus of $55.2 billion in the previous month. The cumulative deficit for the first five months of fiscal year 2016 was $353.0 billion, compared with a deficit of $386.6 billion for the same period of the previous fiscal year.
  • Domestic non-financial debt rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 8.6% in the fourth quarter of 2015, following an increase of 2.1% in the previous quarter.  Domestic non-financial debt outstanding was $45.1 trillion at the end of 2015, of which household debt was $14.2 trillion, nonfinancial business debt was $12.8 trillion, and total government debt was $17.1 trillion.
  • In January, consumer credit increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.6%. Revolving credit decreased 1.3%, while non-revolving credit increased 5.4%.
  • The import price index decreased 0.3% in February, following a 1.0% decrease in the previous month. The export price index decreased 0.4% in February, following a 0.8% decrease in the previous month. The import price index decreased 6.1% from February 2015, while export prices decreased 6.0%.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 18 thousand to 259 thousand in the week ending March 5. The 4-week moving average was 267.5 thousand, a decrease of 2.5 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending February 27 was 2,225 thousand, a decrease of 32 thousand from the previous week.
  • Employer costs for employee compensation for civilian workers averaged $33.58 per hour worked in December 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wages and salaries averaged $23.06 per hour worked and benefits averaged $10.52.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving higher for the second week in a row. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.68% for the week ending March 10, up from last week when it averaged 3.64%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 3.86%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.96%, up from last week when it averaged 2.94%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 0.2% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending March 4th.
  • U.S. commercial crude oil inventories increased 3.9 million barrels to 521.9 million barrels for the week ending March 4, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 4.5 million barrels from the previous week, while distillate fuel inventories decreased by 1.1 million barrels.
  • Total non-farm payroll employment rose 242 thousand in February, following an increase of 172 thousand in the previous month. Private-sector payrolls increased by 230 thousand in the month, while government employment increased by 12 thousand. 
  • The number of unemployed persons decreased by 24 thousand to 7,815 thousand in February. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.9%.
  • The average workweek decreased from 34.6 hours in January to 34.4 hours in February, while average hourly earnings decreased by 3 cents to $25.35.  Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 2.2%, and average weekly earnings were up 1.6%.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 6 thousand to 278 thousand in the week ending February 27. The 4-week moving average was 270.25 thousand, a decrease of 1.75 thousand from the previous week’s average.
  • Fourth quarter productivity decreased 2.2% (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the non-farm business sector, following a 2.0% increase in the previous period. Hourly compensation increased 1.1%, while unit labor costs increased 3.3%. From the fourth quarter of 2014 to the fourth quarter of 2015, productivity increased 0.5%. In the year 2015, productivity was up 0.7% from 2014. Unit labor costs increased 2.1% in 2015, following a 2.0% increase in the previous year.
  • In 2015, annual average unemployment rates declined in 47 states and the District of Columbia, increased in 2 states, and were unchanged in 1 state, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment-population ratios increased in 35 states and the District of Columbia, and decreased in 15 states. The U.S. jobless rate decreased by 0.9 percentage point to 5.3% in 2015, while the national employment-population ratio increased by 0.3 point to 59.3%.
  • Sales of domestic cars decreased 0.7% in February, while total light vehicle (cars and light trucks) sales decreased 0.1%. Total light vehicle sales were 17.4 million units in February, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, compared with 17.5 million in the previous month, and 16.3 million in February of 2015.
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased 1.6% in January, while shipments increased 0.3%. Excluding transportation, new orders were down 0.2%, while shipments were down 0.7%. New orders for January were down 3.3% from January 2015, while shipments were down 4.0%.
  • January construction spending was up 1.5% from the previous month, and was up 10.4% from January 2015. Private construction increased 0.5% in January, while public construction increased 4.5%.
  • ·The Pending Home Sales Index, a leading indicator of housing activity, for January was down 2.5% from the previous month, but was up 1.4% from a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving higher for the first time in two months. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.64% for the week ending March 6, up from last week when it averaged 3.62%. A year ago, the 30-year rate averaged 3.75%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.94%, up from last week when it averaged 2.93%. A year ago, the 15-year rate averaged 3.03%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 4.8% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending February 26th.
  • In January international trade deficit was $45.7 billion, $1.0 billion less than the revised December figure. January exports were down $3.8 billion from December, while imports were down $2.8 billion.
  • The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing survey indicated that the manufacturing sector contracted in February for the fifth consecutive month, while the overall economy grew for the 81st consecutive month.
  • In February, the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) non-manufacturing survey results indicated growth in the non-manufacturing business activity for the 73rd consecutive month.
  • The FED’s “Beige Book” indicated that overall economic activity expanded in most Districts from early January through mid-February.