· Advance estimates of retail and food services sales for September were up 0.1% from the previous month, and were up 4.7% from a year ago, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Excluding motor vehicle & parts, retail sales were down 0.1% from the previous month, but were up 5.7% from a year ago. Year-to-date, retail sales were up 5.4% from the first nine months of 2017.
· Total manufacturing and trade sales for August increased 0.5% from July, following a 0.2% increase as in the previous month, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Inventories increased 0.5%, following a 0.7% increase in the previous month. The total business inventories/sales ratio was 1.34 in August, compared with 1.39 a year ago.
· Total Industrial production increased 0.3% in September, following a 0.4% increase in the previous month. Total industrial production in September was 5.1% above its level a year earlier. The rate of capacity utilization held steady at 78.1%, 1.8 percentage points below its 1972-2017 average, but 2.4 percentage points above September 2017.
· The federal government budget ran a surplus of $119.1 billion in September, following a deficit of $214.1 billion in the previous month. The cumulative budget deficit for the fiscal year 2018 was $779.0, compared with the deficit of $665.8 billion in the fiscal year 2017.
· The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance was 210 thousand in the week ending October 13, a decrease of 5 thousand from the previous week. The 4-week moving average was 211.75 thousand, an increase of 2 thousand from the previous week’s average.
· The number of jobs openings reached a series high of 7.1 million on the last business day of August, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of hires and separations were little changed at 5.8 million and 5.7 million, respectively.
· Median weekly earnings of the nation’s 117.2 million full-time wage and salary workers were $887 in the third quarter of 2018 (not seasonally adjusted), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This was 3.3% higher than a year earlier, compared with a gain of 2.6% in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers over the same period.
· Housing starts in September were down 5.3% from the previous month, but were up 3.7% from a year ago. Building permits were down 0.6% from the previous month, and were down 1.0% from September 2017.
· The housing market index of National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Wells Fargo increased a point to 68 in October. The Index was 72 in January, and 68 in October of 2017.
· The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates dropped slightly after weeks of steady increases. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 4.85% for the week ending October 18, down from last week when it averaged 4.90%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 3.88%. The 15-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 4.26%, down from last week when it averaged 4.29%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 3.19%.
· Mortgage applications decreased 7.1% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending October 12th.
· The October 2018 Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicated that business activity continued to grow strongly in New York State, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The headline, general business conditions, index increased two points to 21.1, pointing to a slightly faster pace of growth than in September.
· The Philadelphia FED business outlook survey for October indicated continued growth in regional manufacturing. The index for current manufacturing activity in the region decreased 0.7 point to 22.2.
· The Conference Board index of leading economic indicators increased 0.5% in September, following a 0.4% increase in the previous month. In the six-month period ending September 2018, the leading economic index increased 2.8% (about a 5.6% annual rate), much slower than the growth of 4.1% (about 8.4% annual rate) during the previous six months. The coincident index increased 0.1% in September, following a 0.3% increase in the previous month. The coincident economic index grew by 1.1% (about a 2.2% annual rate) in the six-month period ending in September, slightly slower than the growth of 1.3% (about 2.6% annual rate) over the previous six months.