Data Updates

Data Updates

January 2011

  • 01.31.2011
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income rose 0.4 percent (non-annualized) in December, following an upwardly revised 0.4 percent gain in November, and is up 3.4 percent over the past year. Nominal disposable income—income less current taxes—rose 0.4 percent in December. After adjusting for price changes, “real” disposable income ticked up 0.1 percent, and is up 2.1 percent over the past year. Real personal consumption expenditures posted its eighth consecutive monthly gain, jumping up 0.4 percent in December. Real consumption is now trending at 2.8 percent over the past 12 months (its highest level since February 2007), and has been heading even higher recently, increasing at an annualized pace of 4.6 percent over the past three months. Personal savings as a percent of disposable income ticked down to 0.2 percentage point to 5.3 percent in December, continuing to shy away from a recent high of 6.3 percent in June.
  • 01.31.2011
  • Personal Consumption Expenditure
  • The Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) price index rose at an annualized rate of 3.8 percent in December, largely on spiking energy prices. Excluding volatile food and energy prices (core PCE), the index rose just 0.4 percent percent during the month and is up just 0.7 percent on a year-over-year basis (its lowest growth rate on record). After excluding non-market-based items—such as financial services furnished without payment—the core PCE price index rose 0.4 percent in December, compared to a 1.1 percent increase in November, and is trending at 0.8 percent over the past 12 months.
  • 01.28.2011
  • GDP
  • Real GDP rose at an annualized rate of 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter, according to the advance estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), coming in below the median estimate from the Bloomberg survey of 3.5 percent growth. For 2010:Q4, real GDP grew 2.8 percent. The increase in output during the fourth quarter was primarily driven by gains in consumption, net exports, and business fixed investment, which were partially offset by a slowing in inventory accumulation (contributing negatively to growth). Real personal consumption expenditures rose 4.4 percent in the fourth quarter, contributing 3.0 percentage points to real GDP growth (its strongest quarter since 2006:Q1) and pulling its 4-quarter growth rate up from 1.8 percent to 2.7 percent. The fourth quarter gain came as growth in consumer durables spiked up to 21.6 percent, its highest quarterly gain since 2001:Q4. Durables growth accelerated across most major categories, but were particularly strong in autos, posting a 45.1 percent increase in the fourth quarter. Business fixed investment rose 5.8 percent in the fourth quarter, compared to a 10.0 percent gain in the third quarter. Equipment and software investment increased 5.8 percent, following four consecutive quarters of double-digit growth. Interestingly, the BEA estimated that structures investment eked out a 0.9 percent gain in the fourth quarter, following 9 quarters of declines. This isn’t the first time the BEA has expected structures to turn the corner. Their first estimate for the third quarter had structures increasing by 3.8 percent, and that was revised down to −3.6 percent. On the residential side, fixed investment increased 3.4 percent in the fourth quarter, compared to a −27.3 percent decline in the third. Private inventory accumulation slowed from $121.4 billion in the third quarter to $7.2 billion in the fourth quarter, subtracting 3.7 percentage points from output growth. As a result, final sales—GDP less inventories—jumped up 7.1 percent in the fourth quarter, compared to a paltry 0.9 percent in the third quarter. Net exports contributed 3.4 percentage points to real GDP growth in the fourth quarter, as exports increased 8.5 percent and imports fell 13.6 percent. On a year-over-year basis, exports are up 8.9 percent, while imports are up 10.6 percent (despite its fourth quarter decline. An alternative snapshot of actual demand stemming from in the U.S.—final sales to domestic purchasers (which excludes inventories and net exports)—rose 3.4 percent in the fourth quarter, and is trending at 2.9 percent over the past four quarters.
  • 01.28.2011
  • The Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
  • American International Group (AIG) executed its exit plan from Federal Reserve assistance during the previous two weeks. The $19.9 billion balance for the revolving credit facility open to AIG was completely repaid by using funds that AIG acquired in the sale of a set of its subsidiaries. Extra cash from those sales (about $6 billion) went toward repurchasing the preferred interests that the Fed held in AIA Group and American Life Insurance Company. The remaining balance of those preferred interests ($19 billion) was bought by AIG using Troubled Asset Relief Program money. The entirety of the preferred interests was transferred to the Treasury by AIG. At this point, the only aid to AIG remaining on the Fed’s balance sheet is Maiden Lane II and Maiden Lane III, both of which do not contain any direct exposure to AIG. Also, Maiden Lane III made a larger-than-usual payment on its loan from the New York Fed, dropping the balance of the loan below $13 billion. The amount of securities lent to dealers remained elevated (around $13.5 billion), nearly $10 billion above the 2010 average. This may be a new norm given the expanding balance of security holdings on the balance sheet. The Treasury announced that they are going to gradually lower the balance in the Supplemental Financing Account (SFA) because of recent estimates that show that the United States will hit its legal debt limit by the end of March. Securities issued for the SFA are 56-day securities, so to lower the balance in the account, the Treasury plans to stop rolling over the securities. Also, the Treasury General Account spiked again. This type of spike is not unfamiliar for a January, and looks similar to January 2010, but it will be interesting to see how this account reacts to the decline in the SFA. When the SFA was reduced due to an approaching debt ceiling in October 2009, the General Account experienced elevated balances.
  • 01.28.2011
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment was revised up from 72.7 to 74.2 in late January, roughly unchanged from its level in December (74.5) and, unfortunately, from its level in January 2010 (74.4). The current conditions component slipped from 85.3 in December to 81.8 currently, while the expectations component improved slightly—from 67.5 to 69.3 in January. Still, expectations are well below its series average of roughly 80. Median one-year-ahead inflation expectations jumped up from 3.0 percent to 3.4 percent in January, largely on rising oil prices (average one-year-ahead inflation expectations rose from 3.9 percent to 4.2 percent). Longer-term expectations remained anchored, with average expectations at 3.2 percent and the median expectation ticking up 0.1 percentage point to 2.9 percent.
  • 01.27.2011
  • Durable Goods
  • New orders for durables slipped 2.5 percent in December, but that was due largely to a dramatic drop in aircraft orders (down 54.9 percent). Excluding transportation, durables rose 0.5 percent during the month, following a 4.5 percent gain in November. On the year, durable goods orders excluding transportation rose 11.5 percent. An important signal of future equipment and software investment—new orders of nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft—rose 1.4 percent in December, bringing its fourth quarter annualized gain to 9.0 percent (still relatively strong but slightly below its year-over-year growth rate of 15.5 percent). Shipments of durables excluding transportation increased 1.1 percent in December, and are now up five out of the last six months, bringing its annualized 6-month growth rate up to 7.8 percent, just below its 12-month trend of 8.6 percent. 2010 was a restocking year for manufacturers: after including a 0.7 percent increase in December, inventories grew every month, bringing its 12-month growth rate to 9.0 percent (its highest growth rate since May 2007).
  • 01.26.2011
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family homes sold at an annual rate of 329,000 units in December, representing a 17.5 percent increase over November’s downwardly revised pace of 280,000 units and the strongest monthly increase since the early ’90's. Despite the large gain, new home sales are still down 7.6 percent on a year-ago basis. Additionally, most of December’s gain was attributable to activity in the West, as sales in other U.S. regions either increased or decreased by very small amounts. When the West is excluded, sales only increased 1.1 percent. The months’ supply of new single-family homes for sale dropped from 8.4 to 6.9 months at the current sales pace in December, as the inventory of homes for sale fell another 2.6 percent to 190,000 annual units, the lowest since 1968. Months’ supply has calmed down roughly to where it stood in April and is down from a record high of 12.1 months in January 2009. While December’s report was a positive one, overall, the big picture remains that sales are still near record lows, leaving vast room for improvement in 2011.
  • 01.25.2011
  • House Price Indexes
  • The S&P/Case-Shiller Monthly House Price Index took a step backward in the three months ending in November, with the 10-city and 20-city composite indexes falling 0.4 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively. November’s report marks the indexes’ fifth consecutive decline, pushing year-over-year growth in the 10-city index negative for the first time since January, to −0.4 percent. The 20-city index fared even worse, slipping 1.6 percent below its year-ago level. Declines were geographically broad-based, with only four metro areas showing year-over-year price growth—Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

    The monthly FHFA house price index was flat from October to November after having declined four months in-a-row. This recent activity, of course, has not helped bolster year-over-year growth, which dropped another 0.3 percentage point to −4.3 percent in November. Deterioration in the FHFA index since April 2007 has essentially set home prices back to where they were in early 2004.

  • 01.20.2011
  • Existing Home Sales
  • The December report for existing single-family home sales was very positive, for the most part, with sales jumping up 11.8 percent to an annualized pace of 4.64 million units and beating the upper limit of analysts’ consensus range. Strength was shared across all four regions of the U.S., and year-over-year sales growth climbed all the way up from −27.3 percent to −2.5 percent. Months’ supply of existing homes at the current sales pace is its lowest since May, easing down from 9.3 months to 7.8 in December and further off July’s high of 11.9 months. Although sales ended the year on a high note, the average sales pace held for 2010 was the poorest since 1997. The median home price slipped down 0.9 percent over the month to $169,300 but was virtually flat with the year-ago median price in December 2009.
  • 01.19.2011
  • Housing Starts
  • Single-family housing starts took a substantial dip in December, falling 9.0 percent and taking back all of November’s downwardly revised 5.8 percent gain. The pace of starts is currently 417,000 annualized units, the slowest since May 2009 and 14.2 percent below last December’s pace. Weather likely had a heavy hand in the setback, as last month ranked seventh largest snow cover recorded in December in forty-five years, according to the National Climatic Data Center. All four regions of the U.S. contributed to the drop in starts except for the West, where starts jumped 23.1 percent. On a positive note, building permits for single-family homes increased for a third consecutive month. Permits rose 5.5 percent in December but remain 14.9 percent below the year-ago pace.
  • 01.18.2011
  • The Employment Situation
  • Nonfarm payrolls rose by 103,000 in December, following upwardly revised increases of 71,000 in November and 210,000 in October (on net adding 70,000 to the previous estimates). Payrolls expanded by a little over 1.1 million in 2010 (an average monthly gain of 94,000), but still remain well below pre-recession levels (to the tune of 7.2 million). Over the past three months, payrolls have increased, on average, by 128,000 a month. However, most of those gains have come from temporary help services, health care, and (to a lesser extent) leisure and hospitality sectors. Goods-producing payrolls were virtually flat in December, falling 2,000, and are up just 135,000 over the past 12 months. Construction employment decreased by 16,000 during the month, with a large portion of that stemming from job losses in heavy and civil engineering (down 13,000). Retail trade payrolls rose 12,000 in December, partially offsetting a 19,400 decrease in November, and edging out its average monthly gain of 10,000 in 2010. Temporary help services continued its string of gains, increasing by 16,000 in December, bringing its total gain for 2010 to a little over 300,000. Health care employment rose by 36,000 in December, slightly above its average gain of 22,000 over the past 12 months. Other measures we've been tracking for signs of improvement on the establishment side of the report—average hours and earnings—were little changed in December. The average workweek for all private employees remained at 34.3 hours, though the manufacturing workweek declined by 0.1 hours to 40.2 hours (factory overtime stayed at 3.1 hours). Also, average hourly earnings for all employees ticked up by 0.1 percent (3 cents) to $22.78. On the household side, the number of unemployed persons fell by 556,000, its largest monthly decrease since July 1983. However, that decrease came as the number of employed rose by 297,000 and 260,000 people exited the labor force. The labor force participation rate slipped down 0.2 percentage point to 64.3 percent, down 1.7 percentage points since the beginning of the recession to its lowest level since the mid '80s. While the surprise drop in the unemployment rate will likely garner most of the attention, the employment-to-population ratio—a somewhat less noisy barometer of the labor market—edged up 0.1 percentage point to 58.3 percent in December. Compared to its level in December 2009, the employment-to-population ratio has only improved by 0.1 percentage point.
  • 01.14.2011
  • CPI
  • The headline CPI jumped up at an annualized rate of 6.2 percent in December, though the release noted that spiking gasoline prices accounted for roughly 80 percent of it. Food prices also rose in December—up 1.5 percent—largely on a 28.2 percent increase in fresh fruits and vegetables prices (which was likely weather-induced). On a year-over-year basis, the CPI is up 1.5 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the index rose 1.1 percent during the month, outpacing its short-to-medium-term trends. Over the past three months, the core CPI is up 0.7 percent, compared to its 12-month growth rate of 0.8 percent. Shelter prices increased 1.6 percent in December, its largest increase since April 2009, driving most of the gain in core prices. Within shelter, rent of primary residence rose 2.7 percent, while OER was up 1.1 percent. Airfares and medical care prices also increased in December, though they were partially offset by declines in communication (down 6.6 percent), recreation (down 2.2 percent), and household operations and furnishings (down 0.7 percent). The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland's measures of underlying inflation trends—the median and 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI—also firmed up a little in December, rising 1.7 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively. Over the past three months, both series are outpacing their respective 12-month growth rates which stand at 0.6 percent for the median CPI and 0.8 percent for the trimmed-mean measure. The distribution of price-changes underlying these measures has also firmed up a little and is continuing to pull mass toward the 0 percent to 2 percent range. In November and December just 23 percent over the consumers’ marketbasket (by expenditure weight) exhibited outright price declines, compared to an average of nearly half of the index over the first six months of the 2010. That difference in weight is showing up as price increases between 0 percent and 2 percent, which have averaged 44 percent over the past two months, compared to 27 percent over the first six months of the year. The upper end of the price-change distribution hasn't moved much, as 22 percent of the overall index is rising at rates exceeding 3.0 percent, compared to a 23 percent average during the first six months of 2010.
  • 01.14.2011
  • Retail Sales
  • Retail sales undershot expectations, rising 0.6 percent in December, following an upwardly revised 0.8 percent gain in November. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales are now up 7.9 percent. Across broad categories, sales were mixed: autos, gasoline stations, furniture and home furnishing stores, health and personal care, and nonstore retailers all posted gains. However, sales at electronics and appliance stores, food and beverage stores, clothing stores, department stores, and miscellaneous store retailers decreased. A somewhat cleaner measure of the trend in retail sales—sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations—increased 0.2 percent in December and are trending at an annualized rate of 5.9 percent over the past three months, in line with its 12-month growth rate of 5.6 percent.
  • 01.14.2011
  • Industrial Production
  • Industrial production rose 0.8 percent (nonannualized) in December, following a downwardly revised 0.3 percent increase in November, though October’s increase was revised and on net, prior revisions left the level of industrial production up slightly. The annualized growth rate in industrial production over the past three months is 4.0 percent, a little below its longer-term (12-month) trend of 5.9 percent. Manufacturing output rose 0.4 percent in December and is up 5.8 percent over the past year. On the durables side, production rose 0.4 percent, though that was largely driven by a 3.7 percent increase in primary metals output. The output of most other durables industries decreased in December. Nondurables output rose 0.5 percent in December, though across nondurable industries, gains were mixed. Mining output partially rebounded from a 0.7 percent decrease in November, rising 0.4 percent in December, and is up a whopping 10.1 percent over the past year (its strongest growth rate since October 2006). ticked down 0.1 percent in November, following a 0.2 percent decline in October, but those decreases came on the heels of a nearly 20 percent annualized growth rate over the previous three months. Utilities output jumped up 4.3 percent in December as colder-than-usual weather increased demand for heating. Overall capacity utilization rose from 75.4 to 76.0 in December and the factory operating rate improved by 0.3 percentage point to 73.2 percent (though is still 5.9 percentage points below its level at the start of the recession).
  • 01.14.2011
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment slipped from an index value of 74.5 December to 72.7 in January, but remained just above its 2010 average level of 72.0. The decline came as the current conditions component fell from 85.3 to 79.8 in January, while the consumer expectations component continued to improve, rising 0.7 point to 68.2 (its highest level since June 2010). The release noted that January’s decline was, in large part, tied to increasing gas prices, as most respondents do not expect increases in their income, though they pushed up their near-term inflation expectations. One-year-ahead average inflation expectations ticked up 0.1 percentage point to 4.0 percent in January, while the median expectation jumped up 0.3 percentage point to 3.3 percent. That said, longer-term expectations remained anchored; with average expectations at 3.2 percent and the median expectation remaining at 2.8 percent.
  • 01.14.2011
  • Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
  • There were seasonal jumps and subsequent declines in several categories over the past two weeks. Most notably, securities lent to dealers doubled its total from about $10 million to $20 million, and fell back to $12 million this past week. Also, the value of the Treasury General Account rose to help cope with end-of-year tax activity, growing from $30 billion to top $100 billion before starting to ebb this week. The total holdings of Treasury securities topped $1 trillion recently, while the total holdings of agency mortgage-backed securities dropped under $1 trillion for the first time since February 2010. The Treasury purchase schedule for mid-January to mid-February was released this week, with $112 billion of purchases expected to be made. Purchases will be split into $32 billion of reinvestment of matured agency debt and mortgage-backed securities and $80 billion of large-scale asset purchases. Maiden Lane II made a payment on the outstanding balance of its loan this week. The balance of the loan now stands at just under $12.8 billion. This is the first time since early 2009 that Maiden Lane III and Maiden Lane II did not make payments on their loans in the same week. Maiden Lane III has not made a payment on its loan in over a month and a half.
  • 01.13.2011
  • Producer Price Index
  • The Producer Price Index (PPI) for finished goods jumped up at an annualized rate of 14.0 percent in December, following a 9.7 percent increase in November, and leaving the series up 4.0 percent on the year. The release noted that about 75 percent of the overall increase in December came from energy prices (which spiked up 55 percent). Excluding volatile food and energy prices, the (“core”) PPI rose 2.1 percent in December, compared to a 3.5 percent increase in November. Still, the core PPI trending at an annualized growth rate of −0.5 percent over the past three months and is up just 1.4 percent over the past year. Further back on the line of production pricing pressure remains on the upside, as core intermediate goods and core crude goods prices are trending at 12-month growth rates of 4.6 percent and 28.1 percent, respectively.
  • 01.13.2011
  • International Trade
  • The nominal trade deficit in November was little changed, narrowing a minute $111 million after a very substantial $6.2 billion narrowing in October. Currently at $38.3 billion, the deficit is still $3.0 billion wider than it was last November, despite the fact that it has diminished in each of the past three months. November’s narrowing resulted from a 0.8 percent increase in exports, which exceeded a 0.6 percent rise in imports. Exports amounted to $159.6 billion, the highest since August 2008, and are up 14.9 percent on a year-ago basis. Imports came in at $198.0 billion, up 13.6 percent year-over-year. Although international trade activity has improved in the sense that overall U.S. trade volume is at its highest level since October 2008, imports have persistently outpaced exports, and the deficit has put a drag on gross domestic product growth in the past three quarters reported.The deficit subtracted 1.7 percentage points from real GDP growth in the third quarter of 2010, leaving annualized growth at 2.6 percent.
  • 01.12.2011
  • Import and Export Prices
  • Import prices advanced 1.1 percent last month, making December the third consecutive increase exceeding 1.0 percent and bumping year-over-year growth up nearly a full percentage point, to 4.8 percent. December’s increase was largely driven by petroleum prices, which rose 3.9 percent and have gained an average 4.3 percent per month in the fourth quarter of 2010. The most pronounced increases over the past twelve months have come from petroleum and prices for foods, feeds and beverages, up 13.7 percent and 13.1 percent, respectively. Excluding petroleum, import prices increased 0.4 percent in December and have grown 2.7 percent since December 2009.

    Export prices also continued to rise, climbing at a slower 0.7 percent pace in December after a 1.5 percent gain in November. Year-over-year growth remained at 6.5 percent, its highest since September 2008 before prices began their precipitous decline.

  • 01.04.2011
  • Factory Orders
  • New orders for manufactured goods jumped up 0.7 percent (nonannualized) in November, reversing a 0.7 decline in October. Excluding transportation, new orders rose 2.4 percent in November, and are up 8.9 percent over the past year. Nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders rose 2.6 percent in November after a 3.2 percent drop in October. The series is trending at an annualized rate of 4.9 percent over the past three months, below its 12-month growth rate of 15.0 percent. Shipments of manufactured goods increased 0.8 percent in November and is up 5.9 percent over the past year. Inventories continued to accumulate during the month, rising 0.8 percent, and are back up to its level reached in February 2009.
  • 01.03.2011
  • ISM Manufacturing
  • The ISM’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) improved to an index value of 57.0 in December (its highest level since May) after a slight (0.3 point) dip in November to 56.6. The overall improvement was driven by increases in the new orders and production components, each jumping up by more than 4 points to levels above 60 in December. Partially offsetting these gains were decreases in the employment component, from 57.5 to 55.7 in December, and a relatively large 4.9 point drop in the inventories index (its largest monthly decline since April 2010).
  • 01.03.2011
  • Construction Spending
  • Total construction spending rose 0.4 percent in November on gains to both residential and nonresidential outlays, as well as total private and public spending. November marked the smallest of three consecutive advances, landing year-over-year growth in its best shape since April 2008, from −8.8 percent up to −6.0 percent. Total private construction managed a paltry 0.3 percent gain over the month, due to a 0.7 percent increase in residential spending, as nonresidential spending slipped down 0.1 percent on declines in manufacturing, communication, and office outlays. Private nonresidential spending continues to be the main setback in overall construction expansion. Private spending still falls below year-ago levels (−11.5 percent), but has improved from a trough of −23.8 percent in July 2009. Private residential has made the most progress on a year-over-year basis, with growth currently at −5.3 percent, compared to −16.5 percent for private nonresidential spending. Public outlays rose 0.7 percent in November, boosting 12-month growth to 4.2 percent. The gain in public spending was driven by office, educational, water supply, and conservation and development outlays.
  • 01.03.2011
  • The Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
  • There was very little balance sheet activity leading into the holidays. Of note, the European Central Bank increased its drawings on its currency swap line, drawing $75 million in each of the past two weeks. This was a $15 million increase from the previous four weeks. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York extended the ECB’s currency swap line, along with those for the Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, and the Swiss National Bank, through August 1, 2011. All five swap lines were set to expire February 1, 2011. According to our calculations, another milestone was reached in the second round of large-scale asset purchases. After purchases this week, the total amount purchased for the program rose over $100 billion. Also, the value of the Treasury General Account has been rising over the past two weeks to help cope with end-of-year tax activity. That account has grown from $30 billion to $90 billion.