·      Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased in 47 states and the District of Columbia in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.  Real GDP growth ranged from 5.2% in Texas to negative 1.3% in North Dakota. Durable goods manufacturing increased 7.2 percent nationally and contributed to growth in every state and the District of Columbia. This industry was the leading contributor to the increases in real GDP in five of the ten fastest growing states. In the year 2017, real GDP grew in 47 states and the District of Columbia.  Real GDP growth ranged from 4.4% in Washington to negative 0.2% in Louisiana.

·      Sales of merchant wholesalers in March were up 0.3% from the previous month, and were up 7.3% from a year ago. Inventories were up 0.3% from the previous month, and were up 5.5% from March 2017.  The March inventories/sales ratio was 1.26, compared with 1.28 in March of 2017.

·      The federal government budget ran a surplus of $214.3 billion in April, following a deficit of $208.7 billion in the previous month. The cumulative budget deficit for the first seven months of fiscal year 2018 was $385.4 billion, compared with a deficit of $344.4 billion for the same period of the previous fiscal year.

·      In March, consumer credit increased at an annual rate of 3.6%, according to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Revolving credit decreased at an annual rate of 3.0%, while non-revolving credit increased at an annual rate of 6.0%.

·      The import price index increased 0.3% in April, following a 0.2% decrease in the previous month. The export price index increased 0.6%, following a 0.3% increase in the previous month. The import price index increased 3.3% from April 2017, while the price index for exports increased 3.8%.

·      The producer price index for final demand (headline index) increased 0.1% in April, following a 0.3% increase in the previous month.  The index for final demand less foods, energy, and trade increased 0.1%, after an increase of 0.4% in March. The producer price index for final demand increased 2.6% for the 12 months ended in April, while the index for final demand less foods, energy, and trade increased 2.5%.

·      The consumer price index (headline index) increased 0.2% in April, following a 0.1% decrease in the previous month. The core index increased 0.1%, following a 0.2% increase in the previous month. The consumer price index increased 2.5% for the 12-month period ending in April, while the core index rose 2.1%.

·      Real average hourly earnings for all employees were virtually unchanged from March to April. This result stems from a 0.1% increase in average hourly earnings combined with a 0.2% increase in the consumer price index.

·      The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance was unchanged at 211 thousand in the week ending May 5. The 4-week moving average was 216 thousand, a decrease of 5.5 thousand from the previous week’s average. This was the lowest level for this average since December 20, 1969, when it was 214.5 thousand.

·      There were 6.6 million job openings on the last business day of March, the highest figure since the beginning of the series in December 2000. The job openings rate for March was 4.2%, compared with 3.7% a year ago. The number of hires was virtually unchanged at 5.4 million in March. There were 5.3 million total separations, little changed from February.

·      The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates were virtually unchanged over the past week. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 4.55% for the week ending May 10, unchanged from last week. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 4.05%. The 15-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 4.01%, down from last week when it averaged 4.03%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 3.29%.

·      Mortgage applications decreased 0.4% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending May 4th.

·      The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment for May, preliminary, was unchanged at 98.8. The index was 97.1 in May of 2017.

  • Total non-farm payroll employment rose 164 thousand in April, following an increase of 135 thousand in the previous month.   Private-sector payrolls increased by 168 thousand in the month, while government employment decreased by 4 thousand. In April, job gains occurred in professional and business services, manufacturing, health care, and mining.
  • The unemployment rate decreased to 3.9% in April, from 4.1% in March. The unemployment rate was 4.4% in April of 2017.
  • The average workweek of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls held steady at 34.5 hours. Average hourly earnings increased by 4 cents to $26.84. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 2.6%.
  • The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 1.3 million in April and accounted for 20.0% of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long term unemployed was down by 340 thousand.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 2 thousand to 211 thousand in the week ending April 28. The 4-week moving average was 221.5 thousand, a decrease of 7.75 thousand from the previous week’s average. This was the lowest level for this average since March 3, 1973 when it was 221.25 thousand.
  • First quarter productivity increased 0.7% (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the non-farm business sector, following a 0.3% increase in the final quarter of 2017. From the first quarter of 2017 to the first quarter of 2018, productivity increased 1.3%, as output increased 3.6%, and hours worked increased 2.2%. Unit labor costs increased 2.7% in the first quarter of 2018, reflecting a 3.4% increase in hourly compensation and a 0.7% increase in productivity.
  • Unemployment rates were lower in March than a year earlier in 302 of the 388 metropolitan areas, higher in 64 areas, and unchanged in 22 areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Forty areas had jobless rates of less than 3.0% and five areas had rates of at least 10.0%. Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 308 metropolitan areas, decreased in 72 areas, and was unchanged in 8 areas.
  • Personal income increased 0.3% in March, while personal consumption expenditures increased 0.4%. Real disposable personal income increased 0.2% in March, while real personal consumption expenditures increased 0.4%. The personal saving rate – personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income – was 3.1% in March, compared with 3.3% in February.
  • The price index for personal consumption expenditures held steady in March, following a 0.2% increase in the previous month. The core index increased 0.2%, the same increase as in the previous month. The price index (headline index) was up 2.0% from March 2017, while the core index was up 1.9%.
  • Sales of domestic cars decreased 4.7% in April, while total light vehicle (cars and light trucks) sales decreased 1.7%. Total vehicle light sales were 17.1 million units in April, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, compared with 17.0 million in April of 2017, and 17.5 million in April of 2016.
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased 1.6% in March, while shipments increased 0.4%. Excluding transportation, new orders were up 0.3% in March, while shipments were up 0.2%. Year-to-date new orders for manufactured goods were up 7.7% from the same period in 2017, while shipments were up 6.8%.
  • In March international trade deficit was $49.0 billion, $8.8 billion less than the revised February figure. March exports were $208.5 billion, $4.2 billion more than February exports. March imports were $257.5 billion, $4.6 billion less than February imports. Year-to-date the goods and services deficit was $163.4 billion, an increase of $25.5 billion, or 18.5%, from the same period in 2017.
  • March construction spending was down 1.7% from the previous month, but was up 3.6% from March 2017, according to U.S. Census Bureau. Private construction decreased 2.1% in March, while public construction held steady.
  • The Pending Home Sales Index inched up 0.4% to a reading of 107.6 in March, according to the National Association of Realtors. The index was 3.0% below March 2017 level.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving slightly lower. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.55% for the week ending May 3rd, down from last week when it averaged 4.58%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.02%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.03%, up slightly from last week when it averaged 4.02%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.27%.
  • 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 April 27.
  • The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing survey indicated that the manufacturing sector expanded in April, and the overall economy grew for the 108th consecutive month.
  • In April, the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) non-manufacturing survey results indicated growth in the non-manufacturing business activity for the 99th consecutive month. All 18 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in April.
  • The Federal Open Market Committee decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 1.50% to 1.75%. The Committee indicated that the stance of monetary policy remains accommodative, thereby supporting strong labor market conditions and a sustained return to 2% inflation.  “The Committee expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant further 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.”

·      Real GDP increased at an annual rate of 2.3% in the first quarter of 2018, according to the “advance” estimate by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter of 2017, real GDP increased 2.9%.

·      The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.8% in the first quarter of 2018, compared with an increase of 2.5% in the previous quarter. The personal consumption expenditures price index increased 2.7%, the same increase as in the fourth quarter. Excluding food and energy prices, the personal consumption expenditures price index increased 2.5%, compared with an increase of 1.9%.

·      Real final sales of domestic product (GDP less change in private inventories) increased 1.9% in the first quarter, in contrast to an increase of 3.4% in the final quarter of 2017.

·      Average expenditures per consumer unit for July 2016 through June 2017 were up 3.9% compared with the July 2015 through June 2016 midyear average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. During the same period, the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) rose 1.9% and average pretax incomes increased 0.3%. Most major components of household spending increased over the 12 months ending June 2017. The 15.2% rise in cash contributions spending was the largest percentage increase among all major components, followed by a 10.6% rise in education expenditures. Expenditures on personal insurance and pensions were up 5.9%, and expenditures on healthcare were up 5.4%. Expenditures on housing increased 4.5%, while expenditures on food increased 2.9%.  

·      New orders for manufactured durable goods increased 2.6% in March, while shipments increased 0.3%. Excluding transportation, new were virtually unchanged, while shipments decreased 0.4%. Year-to-date new orders were up 8.7% from the same period a year ago, while shipments were up 6.8%.

·      Retail inventories for March were down 0.4% from the previous month, but were up 1.6% from March 2017.

·      Wholesale inventories for March, were up 0.5% from February, and were up 5.8% from a year ago.

·      The international trade deficit was $68.0 billion in March, down $7.8 billion from $75.9 billion in February, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  Exports of goods for March were $140.1 billion, $3.4 billion more than February exports. Imports of goods for March were $208.1 billion, $4.4 billion less than February imports.

·      March existing home sales increased 1.1% to an annualized rate of 5,600 thousand units. The March figure was 1.2% below the March 2017 figure. The median sales price of existing houses sold was $250.4 thousand, 5.8% above March 2017. There were 1,670 thousand homes for sale at the end of the month. This represents a supply of 3.6 months at the current sales rate, compared to 3.8 in March of 2017.

·      March new home sales were up 4.0% from the previous month, and were up 8.8% from March 2017. The median sales price of new houses sold was $337.2 thousand, 4.8% above a year ago.

·      The S & P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National U.S. Home Price Index for February indicated that home prices continued their rise across the country over the last 12 months. The U.S. National Index recorded a 6.3% annual gain in February, up from 6.1% last month. The 10-City Composite annual increase came in at 6.5%, up from 6.0% in the previous month. The 20-City Composite posted a 6.8% year-over-year gain, up from 6.4% in the previous month.

·      The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index increased 0.6% in February.  From February 2017 to February 2018, house prices were up 7.2%.  The 12-month changes ranged from 4.8% in the Middle Atlantic division to 10.3% in the Pacific division.

·      The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving higher and reaching their highest level since the week of August 22, 2013. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.58% for the week ending April 26, up from last week when it averaged 4.47%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year rate was 4.03%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.02%, up from last week when it averaged 3.94%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year rate was 3.27%.

·      Mortgage applications decreased 0.2% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending April 20th.

·      The Employment Cost Index for total compensation rose 0.8%, seasonally adjusted, for the 3-month period ending March 2018, following a 0.6% increase for the 3-month period ending December 2017. Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 2.7% for the 12-month period ending in March 2018, following a 2.6% increase for the 12-month period ending December 2017. Compensation costs for private industry workers increased 2.8% for the 12-month period ending March 2018, while compensation costs for state and local government workers increased 2.2%.

·      The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 24 thousand to 209 thousand in the week ending April 21. This is the lowest level for initial claims since December 6, 1969 when it was 202 thousand. The 4-week moving average was 229.25 thousand, a decrease of 2.25 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.

·      The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index, which had decreased in March, increased in April. The index now stands at 128.7 (1985=100), up from 127.0 in March. The present situation index increased to 159.6, while the expectations index increased to 108.1 in April.

·      The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment for April was 98.8, compared with 101.4 in March and 97.0 in April of last year. The Index of Consumer Expectations edged down to 88.4 in April, from 88.8 in March, while the Index for Current Economic Conditions decreased to 114.9, from 121.2.

·      The Chicago FED National Activity Index decreased to 0.10 in March, from 0.98 in February. The index’s 3-month moving average decreased to 0.27 in March from 0.31 in February.

 

·      Advance estimates of retail and food services sales for March were up 0.6% from February, and were up 4.5% from March 2017. Excluding motor vehicle & parts, retail sales in March were up 0.2% from the previous month, and were up 4.5% from a year ago. Year-to-date, retail sales were up 4.8% from the same period a year ago.

·      Total manufacturing and trade sales for February were up 0.4% from January, and were up 5.8% from February 2017.  Total business inventories for February were up 0.6% from the previous month, and were up 4.0% from a year ago.

·      Total Industrial production increased 0.5% in March following a 1.0% increase in the previous month. The index was 4.3% above its March 2017 level. For the first quarter of 2018, industrial production increased at an annual rate of 4.5%.

·      Capacity utilization for the industrial sector increased 0.3 percentage point in March to 78.0, a rate that is 1.8 percentage points below its long-run (1972-2017) average.

·      Durable goods manufacturing, construction, and professional, scientific, and technical services were the leading contributors to the increase in U.S. economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. 16 of 22 industry groups contributed to the overall 2.9% increase in real GDP in the fourth quarter.

·      Real GDP increased 2.3% in the year 2017. The private as well as the government sector contributed to the increase. Growth was widespread, with 20 of 22 industry groups contributing to the increase. Real estate and rental and leasing, health care and social assistance, and durable goods manufacturing were the leading contributors to the increase in real GDP.

·      Housing starts in March were up 1.9% from the previous month, and were up 10.9% from a year ago. Building permits were up 2.5% from the previous month, and were up 7.5% from a year ago.

·      The housing market index of National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Wells Fargo decreased to 69 in April, from 70 in March. The index was 72 in January of 2018, and 68 in April of 2017.

·      The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average mortgage rates “jumping across the board”. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.47% for the week ending April 19, up from last week when it averaged 4.42%. A year ago this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 3.97%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.94%, up from last week when it averaged 3.87%. A year ago this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 3.23%.

·      Mortgage applications increased 4.9% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending April 13th.

·      The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased a thousand to 232 thousand in the week ending April 14. The 4-week moving average was 231.25 thousand, an increase of 1.25 thousand from the previous week’s average.

·      Unemployment rates were lower in March in 4 states, higher in one state, and stable in 33 states and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Seventeen states had jobless rate decreases from a year earlier, and 33 states and the District of Columbia had little or no change. Over the year, 24 states added nonfarm payroll jobs, and 26 states and the District of Colombia were essentially unchanged.

·      Labor productivity declines were widespread among manufacturing industries in 2017, with decreases in 54 of the 86 four-digit industries, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of the 51 industries in durable manufacturing, 34 experienced productivity decreases in 2017. Nondurable manufacturing also experienced widespread declines in 2017 with productivity falling in 20 of 35 industries. Of the 4 industries in the mining sector, 3 had productivity gains in 2017.

·      The Conference Board index of leading economic indicators increased 0.3% in March, following an increase of 0.7% in the previous month. Over the six-month span through March, the leading index increased 4.3% (about an 8.8% annual rate). The Conference Board coincident economic index increased 0.2% in March, following a 0.4% increase as in the previous month. Over the six-month span through March, the coincident index increased 1.4% (about a 2.8% annual rate).

·      The FED’s “Beige Book” indicated that overall economic activity continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace across the 12 Federal Reserve Districts in March and early April.

·      The April Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicated that business activity grew at a solid pace in New York. The general business conditions index was 15.8 in April, compared with 22.5 in March. The prices paid index decreased 1.1 points, while the prices received index rose 3.1 points.

·      The Philadelphia FED business outlook survey for April reported continued growth in manufacturing activity in the region. The indicator for general activity, edged up to 23.2 in April, from 22.3 in March.

·      The federal government budget ran a deficit of $208.7 billion in March, following a deficit of $215.2 billion in the previous month. The cumulative budget deficit for the first six months of fiscal year 2018 was $599.7 billion, compared with a deficit of $526.9.4 billion for the same period of the previous fiscal year.

·      The import price index held steady in March, following a 0.3% increase in the previous month.  The export price index increased 0.3%, following a 0.2% increase in the previous month. Import prices increased 3.6% from March 2017 to March 2018, while export prices increased 3.4%.

·      The producer price index for final demand increased 0.3% in March, following an increase of 0.2% in the previous month. The core index – the producer price index for final demand less foods and energy – also increased 0.3% in March, following an increase of 0.2% in the previous month.  The producer price index for final demand increased 3.0% from March 2017 to March 2018, while the core index increased 2.7%.

·      The consumer price index (headline index) decreased 0.1% in March, following a 0.2% increase in the previous month. The core index increased 0.2%, the same increase as in the previous month. The consumer price index increased 2.4% for the 12-month period ending in March, while the core index rose 2.1%.

·      Real average hourly earnings for all employees increased 0.4% from February to March.This result stems from a 0.3% increase in average hourly earnings combined with a 0.1% decrease in the consumer price index.

·      The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 9 thousand to 242 thousand in the week ending April 7. The 4-week moving average was 230 thousand, an increase of 1.75 thousand from the previous week’s average.

·      The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average mortgage rates were virtually unchanged. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.42% for the week ending April 12, up from last week when it averaged 4.40%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.08%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.87% for the week ending April 12, the same as last week. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.34%.

·      Mortgage applications decreased 1.9% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending April 6th.

  • Total non-farm payroll employment edged up 103 thousand in March, following an increase of 326 thousand in the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private-sector payrolls increased by 102 thousand in the month, while government employment increased by a thousand. In March, employment grew in manufacturing, health care, and mining.
  • The unemployment rate held steady at 4.1% in March. The unemployment rate was 4.5% in March of 2017.
  • The average workweek of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls held steady at 34.5 hours. Average hourly earnings increased by 8 cents to $26.82. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 2.7%.
  • The labor force participation rate, at 62.9%, changed little in March, and the employment population ratio held at 60.4%.
  • the number of unemployed persons decreased by 121 thousand to 6.585 million. At 1.3 million, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed in March and accounted for 20.3% of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed was down by 338 thousand.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 24 thousand to 242 thousand in the week ending March 31. The 4-week moving average was 228.25 thousand, an increase of 3 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending March 24 was 1,808 thousand, a decrease of 64 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. This is the lowest level for insured unemployment since December 29, 1973 when it was 1,805 thousand. The 4-week moving average was 1,848.250 thousand a decrease of 13.5 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since January 5, 1974 when it was 1,838.5 thousand.
  • Unemployment rates were lower in February than a year earlier in 319 of the 388 metropolitan areas, higher in 48 areas, and unchanged in 21 areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In February, 313 metropolitan areas had year-over-year increases in nonfarm payroll employment, 69 had decreases, and 6 had no change.
  • Sales of domestic cars decreased 0.4% in March, while total light vehicle (cars and light trucks) sales increased 2.5%. Total light vehicle sales were 17.4 million units, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, compared to 17.1 million in January, and 16.7 million in March of 2017.
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased 1.2% in February, while shipments increased 0.2%. Unfilled orders increased 0.2% in February, while inventories increased 0.3%. Year-to-date new orders for manufactured goods were up 7.9%, and shipments were up 7.4% from the same period in 2017.
  • In February, international trade deficit was $57.6 billion, up $0.9 billion from $56.7 billion in January.  February exports were $204.4 billion, $3.5 billion more than January exports. February imports were $262.0 billion, $4.4 billion more than January imports. Year-to-date trade deficit increased $21.1 billion, or 22.7%, to $114.3 billion from the same period in 2017.
  • February construction spending was up 0.1% from the previous month, and was up 3.0% from February 2017, according to U.S. Census Bureau. Private construction increased 0.7% in February, while public construction decreased 2.1%.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving lower for the second consecutive week. 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.40% for the week ending April 5, down from a week earlier when it averaged 4.44%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.10%. 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.87%, down from last week when it averaged 3.90%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.36%.
  • 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 30th.
  • The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing survey indicated that the manufacturing sector expanded in March, and the overall economy grew for the 107th consecutive month.
  • In March, the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) non-manufacturing survey results indicated growth in the non-manufacturing business activity for the 98th consecutive month. Fifteen non-manufacturing industries reported growth, while two industries reported contraction in March.
  • Real GDP increased at an annual rate of 2.9% in the fourth quarter of 2017, following a 3.2% increase in the previous quarter, 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 2.5%.
  • Real gross domestic income (GDI) increased 0.9% in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of 2.4% in the third quarter.
  • The average of real GDP and real GDI, a supplemental measure of U.S. economic activity that equally weights GDP and GDI, increased 1.9% in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of 2.8% in the third quarter
  • The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.5% in the fourth quarter, following a 1.7% increase in the third quarter. The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index increased 2.7%, compared with an increase of 1.5%. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index increased 1.9%, compared with an increase of 1.3%.
  • Real GDP increased 2.3% in the year 2017, following an increase of 1.5% in 2016. The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 1.8% in 2017, compared with an increase of 1.0% in 2016. The PCE price index increased 1.7%, compared with an increase of 1.2%. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index increased 1.5%, compared with an increase of 1.8%.
  • Current-dollar GDP increased 4.1%, or $766.1 billion, in 2017 to a level of $19,390.6 billion, compared with an increase of 2.8%, or $503.8 billion, in 2016
  • Corporate profits from current production decreased $1.1 billion in the fourth quarter, after an increase of $90.2 billion in the previous quarter. For the year 2017, profits from current production increased $91.2 billion, in contrast to a decrease of $44.0 billion in 2016.
  • Personal income increased 0.4%, in February, the same increase as in the previous month. Personal consumption expenditures increased 0.2% in February, the same increase as in the previous month. The price index for personal consumption expenditures increased 0.2% in February, following an increase of 0.4% in the previous month. The price index excluding food and energy increased 0.2% in February, after a 0.3% increase in the previous month. The price index increased 1.8% from February 2017, while the price index excluding food and energy increased 1.6%.
  • Retail inventories for February were up 0.4% from January 2018, and were up 2.5% from February 2017.
  • Wholesale inventories for February were up 1.1% from January 2018, and were up 5.7% from February 2017.
  • In February international trade deficit was $75.4 billion, $0.1 billion more than the January figure. February exports were $136.5 billion, $2.9 billion more than January exports. January imports were $211.9 billion, $3.0 billion more than January imports.
  • The Pending Home Sales Index increased 3.1% to a reading of 107.5 in February, according to the National Association of Realtors. The index was 4.1% below February 2017 level.
  • The S & P Corelogic Case-Shiller National U.S. Home Price Index for January indicates that home prices continued their rise across the country over the last 12 months. The National index, seasonally adjusted, was up less than 0.1% in January, following a 0.3% increase in the previous month. The National index, not seasonally adjusted, and was up 6.2% from January 2017. As of January 2018, average home prices were 6.3% above their June/July 2006 peaks.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates holding largely steady for the week. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.44% for the week ending March 29, down from last week when it averaged 4.45%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 4.14%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.90%, down from last week when it averaged 3.91%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 3.39%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 4.8% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending March 23rd.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 12 thousand to 215 thousand in the week ending March 24. This is the lowest level for initial claims since January 27, 1973 when it was 214 thousand. The 4-week moving average was 224.5 thousand, a decrease of 0.5 thousand from the previous week’s average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending March 17 was 1,871 thousand, an increase of 35 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 1,861.5 thousand, a decrease of 12.75 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since January 5, 1974 when it was 1,838.5 thousand.
  • The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index, which had increased in February, decreased March. The Index decreased to 127.7 in March, from 130.0 in February. The expectations index decreased from 109.2 to 106.2, while the present situation index decreased from 161.2 to 159.9.
  • The Chicago FED National Activity Index rose to 0.88 in February, from 0.02 in January. All four broad categories of indicators that make up the index increased from January. The index’s three-month moving average increased to 0.37 in February, from 0.16 in January.
  • The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment increased to 101.4 in March, from 99.7 in February. This was the highest level since 2004. The Current Conditions Index rose from 114.9 to 121.2, and set a new all-time peak. The Index of Consumer Expectations decreased to 88.8 in March, from 90.0 in February.

·      New orders for manufactured durable goods increased 3.1% in February, following a 3.5% decrease in the previous month. Shipments increased 0.9%, following a 0.5% increase in the previous month. Inventories increased 0.4%, the same increase as in the previous month. Year-to-date, new orders increased 9.1% from the same period a year ago, while shipments increased 7.8%.

·      The U.S. current account deficit increased to $128.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017 from $101.5 billion in the third quarter, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The deficit increased to 2.5% of GDP in the final quarter of 2017, from 2.1% of GDP in the previous quarter. For the year 2017, the current account deficit was $466.2 billion, compared with $451.7 billion in 2016. The deficit was 2.4% of GDP in both 2017 and 2016.

·      State personal income grew on average 3.1% in 2017, after increasing 2.3% in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Growth of state personal income ranged from negative 0.3% in North Dakota to positive 4.8% in Washington.

·      Private nonfarm business sector multifactor productivity increased 0.9% in 2017, following a 0.6% decrease in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This 2017 increase reflected a 2.9% increase in output and a 2.0% increase in the combined inputs of capital and labor. Capital services grew by 2.2% and labor input grew by 1.9%.

·      February existing home sales increased 3.0% to an annualized rate of 5,540 thousand units, according to the National Association of Realtors. The February figure was 1.1% above the February 2017 figure. There were 1,590 thousand homes for sale at the end of the month. This represents a supply of 3.4 months at the current sales rate, compared to 3.8 in February of 2017. The median sales price of existing homes sold was $241.7 thousand, 5.9% above February 2017.

·      February new home sales decreased 0.6% to an annualized rate of 618 thousand units. The February figure was 0.5% above the February 2017 figure. There were 305 thousand homes for sale at the end of the month. This represents a supply of 5.9 months at the current sales rate, compared to 5.1 in February of 2017. The median sales price of new houses sold was $326.8 thousand, 9.7% above February 2017.

·      U.S. House prices rose 0.8% in January, following a 0.4% increase in the previous month, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA). For the 12 months ending in January, U.S. prices rose 7.3%.

·      The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates inched up after falling for the first time in 2018 last week. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.45% for the week ending March 22, up from last week when it averaged 4.44%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 4.23%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.91%, up from last week when it averaged 3.90%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 3.44%.

·      Mortgage applications decreased 1.1% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending March 16th.

·      The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 3 thousand to 229 thousand in the week ending March 17. The 4-week moving average was 223.75 thousand, an increase of 2.25 thousand from the previous week’s average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending March 10 was 1,828 thousand, a decrease of 57 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. This is the lowest level for insured unemployment since December 29, 1973 when it was 1,805 thousand. The 4-week moving average was 1,880.5 thousand, a decrease of 11.75 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since January 5, 1974 when it was 1,838.5 thousand.

·      Employer costs for employee compensation averaged $35.87 per hour worked in December 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wages and salaries averaged $24.49 per hour worked and accounted for 68.3% of these costs, while benefit costs averaged $11.38 and accounted for 31.7%. Total employer compensation costs for private industry workers averaged $33.72 per hour worked in December 2017. Total employer compensation costs for state and local government workers averaged $49.19 per hour worked. 

·       The Conference Board index of leading economic indicators increased 0.6% in February, following a 0.8% increase in the previous month. In the six-month period ending February 2018, the leading economic index increased 4.0% (about an 8.2% annual rate), faster than the growth of 2.4% during the previous six months. Furthermore, the strengths among the leading indicators remained very widespread. The coincident index increased 0.3% in February, following a 0.1% increase in January. The coincident economic index rose 1.5% (about a 3.0% annual rate) for the six-month period ending February 2018, almost twice the growth of 0.8% for the previous six months.

·      The Federal Open Market Committee decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 1.50% to 1.75%. “The Committee expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant 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.”

  • Advance estimates of retail and food services sales for February were down 0.1% from January, but were up 4.0% from February 2017. Excluding motor vehicle & parts, sales were up 0.2% from the previous month, and were up 4.4% from a year ago. Year-to-date, retail sales and food services were up 4.7% from the same period of 2017.
  • Total manufacturing and trade sales for January were down 0.2% from the previous month, but were up 5.7% from January 2017. Total business inventories were up 0.6% from the previous month, and were up 3.7% from a year ago. The inventories/sales ratio was 1.34, compared with 1.37 in January of 2017.
  • Total Industrial production increased 1.1% in February, after decreasing 0.3% in the previous month. Total Industrial production was up 4.4% from February 2017. The capacity utilization rate was 78.1 in February, 1.7 percentage points below the average for the 1972-2017 period.
  • Housing starts in February were 1,236 thousand, down 7.0% from the previous month and were down 4.0% from a year ago. Building permits in February were 1,298 thousand units, down 5.7% from January, but were up 6.5% from February 2017.
  • The housing market index of National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Wells Fargo decreased to 70 in March, from 71 in February. The index was 71 in March of 2017, and 72 in January 2018.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates dropping after nine consecutive weeks of increases. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.44% for the week ending March 15, down from last week when it averaged 4.46%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 4.30%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.90%, down from last week when it averaged 3.94%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 3.50%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 0.9% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending March 9th.
  • The federal budget had a deficit of $215.2 billion in February, compared with a surplus of $49.2 billion in January and a deficit of $192.0 billion in February of 2017. The cumulative deficit for the first five months of the fiscal year 2018 was $391.0 billion, compared with a deficit of $350.6 billion during the same period of the previous fiscal year.
  • The import price index increased 0.4% in February, following a 0.8% increase in the previous month. The export price index increased 0.2% in February, following a 0.8% increase in the previous month. The import price index increased 2.5% from February 2017, while export prices increased 3.3%.
  • The producer price index for final demand (headline index) increased 0.2% in February, following an increase of 0.4% in the previous month. The index for final demand less foods, energy, and trade increased 0.4%, the same increase as in the previous month. The producer price index for final demand (headline index) was up 2.8% from February 2017 to February 2018, while the index for final demand less foods, energy, and trade was up 2.7%. The index for processed goods for intermediate demand increased 0.7% in February, while the index for unprocessed goods for intermediate demand decreased 2.8%. The index for services for intermediate demand increased 0.5%, following a 0.1% increase in the previous month.
  • The consumer price index (headline index) increased 0.2% in February, following a 0.5% increase in January. The core index increased 0.2%, following a 0.3% increase as in the previous month. The consumer price index increased 2.2% for the 12-month period ending in February, while the core index rose 1.8%.
  • Real average hourly earnings for all employees were unchanged from January to February. This result stems from a 0.1% 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 decreased 4 thousand to 226 thousand in the week ending March 10. The 4-week moving average was 221.5 thousand, a decrease of 0.75 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending March 3 was 1,879 thousand, an increase of 4 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 1890.75 thousand, a decrease of 17.25 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
  • There were 6.3 million job openings on the last business day of January, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the month, hires and separations little changed at 5.6 million and 5.4 million, respectively.
  • Unemployment rates were lower in January in six states and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Sixteen states had jobless rate decreases from a year earlier and 34 states and the District of Columbia had little or no change. Over the year, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 3 states, decreased in 1 state, and essentially unchanged in 46 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Unemployment rates were lower in January than a year earlier in 337 of the 388 metropolitan areas, higher in 39 areas, and unchanged in 12 areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 295 metropolitan areas, decreased in 78 areas, and was unchanged in 15 areas.
  • The March Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicated that business activity continued to grow at a solid pace in New York. The general business conditions index was 22.5 in March, compared with 13.1 in February.
  • The Philadelphia FED manufacturing business outlook survey for March reported that business activity continued to expand. The indicator for general activity was 22.3 in March, compared with 25.8 in February.
  • The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment, preliminary, for March increased to 102.0, from 99.7 in February. The index was 96.9 a year ago.

 

  • Total non-farm payroll employment rose 313 thousand in February, following an increase of 239 thousand in the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private-sector payrolls increased by 287 thousand in the month, while government employment increased by 26 thousand.  Job gains occurred in construction, retail trade, professional and business services, manufacturing, financial activities, and mining.
  • In February, the unemployment rate was 4.1% for the fifth consecutive month, and the number of unemployed persons was essentially unchanged at 6.7 million.
  • The labor force participation rate increased by 0.3 percentage point over the month to 63.0%, but changed little over the year.
  • The average workweek increased by 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours, and average hourly earnings increased by 4 cents to $26.75.  Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 2.6%.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 21 thousand to 231 thousand in the week ending March 3. The 4-week moving average was 222.5 thousand, an increase of 2 thousand from the previous week’s average.
  • Fourth quarter productivity held steady in the non-farm business sector, following a 2.6% increase in the previous period. Hourly compensation increased 2.4%, while unit labor costs increased 2.5%. From the fourth quarter of 2016 to the fourth quarter of 2017, productivity increased 1.1%, reflecting increases in output and hours worked of 3.2% and 2.1%, respectively.
  • New orders for manufactured goods decreased 1.4% in January, while shipments increased 0.6%. Year-to-date, New orders were up 8.4%, and shipments were up 8.0%.
  • Sales of merchant wholesalers in January decreased 1.1% from December, while inventories increased 0.8%.  The January inventories/sales ratio was 1.26, compared with 1.28 in January 2017.
  • In January international trade deficit was $56.6 billion, $2.7 billion more than the revised December figure. January exports were $200.9 billion, $2.7 billion less than December exports. January imports were $257.5 billion, down less than $0.1 billion from December imports.
  • The net worth of households and nonprofits rose to $98.7 trillion during the fourth quarter of 2017, according to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
  • Domestic nonfinancial debt outstanding was $49.1 trillion at the end of the fourth quarter of 2017, of which household debt was $15.3 trillion, nonfinancial business debt was $14.3 trillion, and total government debt was $19.5 trillion.
  • Household debt increased at an annual rate of 5.2% in the fourth quarter of 2017, while nonfinancial business debt rose at an annual rate of 3.7%. Federal government debt decreased 0.2% at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2017, while state and local government debt expanded at an annual rate of 4.2%.
  • January consumer credit outstanding increased at an annual rate of 4.25% to $3,855.0 billion. Revolving credits decreased at an annual rate of 0.8%, while non-revolving credits increased 5.6%.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving higher. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.46% for the week ending March 8, up from last week when it averaged 4.43%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.21%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.94%, up from last week when it averaged 3.90%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.42%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 0.3% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending March 2nd.
  • 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 97th consecutive month. Sixteen non-manufacturing industries reported growth, and two industries reported contraction.
  • The FED’s “Beige Book” indicated that economic activity expanded at a modest to moderate pace across all Districts in January and February.