Data Updates

Data Updates

December 2010

  • 12.28.2010
  • House Price Indexes
  • Today’s release of the monthly S&P/Case-Shiller House Price Index shows that home prices continue to fall across the country. In the three months ending in October, the 10-city composite index dropped 0.9 percent, and the 20-city composite fell 1.0 percent, marking a fourth consecutive decline for both measures. Year-over-year growth in the 10-city index slowed to a mere 0.2 percent, its lowest since January, while year-over-year growth in the 20-city index slumped even further, returning to negative territory at −0.8 percent. Of the twenty major markets tracked by S&P/Case-Shiller, eleven hit fresh lows since prices began to dip in 2006 and 2007 (Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, New York City, Atlanta, Charlotte, Detroit, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle, and Tampa).

    The Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) purchase-only index managed a 0.7 percent increase in October following four uninterrupted declines. However, September’s 0.7 percent decline reported last month was revised downward to a 1.2 percent drop, leaving year-over-year growth little changed, at −3.4 percent. All nine Census divisions tracked by the FHFA House Price Index still fall below their year-ago levels, led by East South Central, Mountain, and Pacific. Six of those nine divisions showed mild price increases in October, resulting in the overall monthly gain.

  • 12.23.2010
  • Durable Goods
  • New orders for durable goods slipped down 1.3 percent in November, though that was largely due to continued volatility in aircraft orders. Excluding transportation equipment, new orders rose 2.4 percent and are up 10.6 percent over the past year. New orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft rose 2.6 percent in November, not quite reversing an upwardly revised 3.6 percent decrease in October. On a year-over-year basis, the series is up 14.4 percent through November, though is only trending at an annualized growth rate of 2.8 percent over the past three months. Shipments of durables ticked down 0.3 percent during the month, its third decrease in the past four month. Shipments are, however, still up 4.3 percent over the past year. Inventories continued to expand in November, rising 0.6 percent and matching its increase in October.
  • 12.23.2010
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income rose 0.3 percent (non-annualized) in November, following a downwardly revised (but still relatively strong) 0.4 percent gain in October. Nominal disposable income—income less current taxes—rose 0.3 percent in November. After adjusting for price changes, “real” disposable income increased 0.2 percent, and is up 2.4 percent over the past year. Real personal consumption expenditures, which were revised down from a 2.8 percent annualized gain in the third quarter to 2.4 percent, rose 3.9 percent in November and are trending at an annualized 5.0 percent through the first two months of the fourth quarter. Personal savings as a percent of disposable income ticked down to 0.1 percentage point to 5.3 percent in November, continuing to shy away from a recent high of 6.3 percent in June.
  • 12.23.2010
  • PCE Prices
  • The Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) price index rose at an annualized rate of 1.1 percent in November, compared to a 2.0 percent increase in October. Excluding food and energy prices (core PCE), the index rose 1.0 percent during the month and is up just 0.8 percent on a year-over-year basis. After excluding non-market-based items—such as financial services furnished without payment—the core PCE price index rose 1.1 percent in November, offsetting a 1.1 percent decline in October, and is up 0.8 percent over the past year.
  • 12.23.2010
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment rose to an index value of 74.5 in late December, its highest level since June and second highest sentiment reading on the year. The current conditions component improved to 85.3, 3.1 points above November’s reading. The expectations component also increased, from 64.8 in November to 67.5 in December. The release suggested that some of the increase in sentiment was due to news on the tax cuts. One-year-ahead average inflation expectations ticked up 0.2 percentage point to 3.9 percent in December (though the median expectation was unchanged at 3.0 percent). Longer-term (five-to-10 year-ahead) average expectations edged up from 3.2 percent to 3.3 percent, though the median expectation remained at 2.8 percent.
  • 12.23.2010
  • New Home Sales
  • Home sales turned out a decent report card in November, with new single-family home sales rising 5.5 percent, following yesterday’s report of a 6.7 percent gain in existing single-family home sales. November’s increase in new home sales is consistent with a stable but still-depressed market, as the annual sales pace of 290,000 units still sits roughly level with all-time lows held since May. The sales pace has yet to recover from its dive back in May, which is evident by current year-over-year growth of −21.2 percent. There was quite a bit of regional disparity in November sales performance. The West’s sizeable increase (37.3 percent) pulled the most weight, while the South showed a more moderate increase, and activity in the Northeast and Midwest declined. Meanwhile, the inventory of new single-family homes on the market continued to drop. Inventory fell an additional 2.0 percent in November to 197,000 units. Inventory this low has not been seen since 1968. Months’ supply eased from 8.8 to 8.2 months at the current sales pace, aided by the rise in sales and concurrent drop in inventory. Months’ supply remains elevated compared to the golden years of 2000-2005, when the average was 4.1 months. However, significant easing has occurred since highs around 12.0 months were reached in early 2009.
  • 12.22.2010
  • GDP
  • Third quarter real GDP was revised up during the third estimate, from 2.5 percent to 2.6 percent, though rounding somewhat overstates the actual change, which was from 2.53 percent to 2.56 percent. While real was largely unchanged in aggregate, the details were a little more pessimistic. The current revision was largely due to a higher estimate for the change in private inventories which was almost completely offset by a relatively large downward revision to consumption. Private inventories added 1.6 percentage points to real GDP growth in the third quarter, revised up by 0.3 percentage point over the second estimate. Real personal consumption was revised down from 2.8 percent to a gain of 2.4 percent in the third quarter, though is still slightly higher than a 2.2 percent increase in the second quarter. All of the knockdown to consumption came from service (revised down from an increase of 2.5 percent to 1.6 percent), as durable and nondurable spending was actually revised up slightly. Real consumption’s contribution to output growth in the third quarter slipped down 0.3 percentage point to 1.7 percentage points during the revision. With the downward revision in consumption, final sales of real GDP (GDP less the change in private inventories), were adjusted down from 1.2 percent to 0.9 percent, equal to its second quarter gain. Outside of consumption and inventories, little else was effected by the revision. Taking a quick peek at revisions to prices reveals that the PCE price index excluding food and energy was revised down from an annualized rate of 0.8 percent to 0.5 percent in the third quarter, with the majority of the downward revision coming from services prices—which were revised down from 1.1 percent to 0.7 percent.
  • 12.22.2010
  • Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales took a step in the right direction in November, increasing a sizeable 6.7 percent following a 2.0 percent retreat in October. The sales pace continued to recover from July’s plunge, climbing to 4.2 million annual units, its highest since June. However, year-over-year growth sank to its lowest since the 1981–1982 downturn, dropping from −25.6 percent to −27.3 percent in November. Inventory of existing single-family homes for sale declined 1.8 percent, representing 9.3 months’ supply at the current sales rate, still elevated but down from 10.1 months in October. The national median sales price was virtually unchanged over the month, dropping a slight 0.1 percent due to a lone mild drop in the South. The median price is up 1.2 percent on a year-over-year basis, with the Northeast leading all four regions (up 10.7 percent).
  • 12.16.2010
  • Housing Starts
  • Single-family housing starts rebounded 6.9 percent in November after retreating 2.7 percent in October. November’s increase brings the current pace of starts to 465,000 annual units, its highest since April and roughly in-line with the average held since May 2009, when the pace climbed its way back above the 400,000 mark. A sobering perspective, though, shows that while the pace has improved since the 360,000-unit trough set back in January 2009, it remains depressed below levels in all previous post-war downturns. And in fact, when multi-family units starts are also taken into account for November, total housing starts actually increased by a much more modest 3.9 percent. All four regions of the U.S. shared in November’s increase except for the Northeast, which slipped 2.5 percent in total starts. The Midwest saw the largest gain of 15.8 percent. On a year-over-year basis, single-family housing starts are down 7.7 percent.
  • 12.15.2010
  • CPI
  • The CPI rose at an annualized rate of 1.5 percent in November and is up 1.1 percent over the past 12 months. Energy prices rose in November, at 2.7 percent though, its smallest increase over the past five months. Food prices also rose modestly during the month, up 2.4 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” CPI rose 1.2 percent in November, somewhat higher than its annualized growth rate of 0.2 percent over the previous three months and slightly higher than its 12-month growth rate of 0.8 percent. November’s increase in the core CPI was driven largely by increases in shelter and airline fares, up 1.3 percent and 42.2 percent, respectively. That increase in airfares is its largest since mid-2008, though that series is relatively volatile so its hard to make too much of that. On the other hand, the increases in shelter were driven by a 2.6 percent rise in rent and 1.4 percent increase in OER (Owners Equivalent Rents), the largest monthly gains in both of these relatively stable series since early 2009. The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s measures of underlying inflation, the median CPI and 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI, were in agreement with the core CPI, rising 1.0 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively in November. Both the median and the trim outpaced their 3-month growth rates in November and were above their longer-term (12-month) trends which are ranging between 0.5 percent and 0.8 percent. Interestingly, it appeared that the underlying component price-change distribution, while centered between 0 percent and 1 percent, tightened up a bit in November. Compared to its year-to-date average of roughly 40 percent, just 23 percent of the consumers’ marketbasket (by expenditure weight) exhibited outright price declines. Instead, it seems that much of that weight shifted up a bin, as roughly 30 percent of the index rose above zero but below 1.0 percent in November (compared to its year-to-date average of 16 percent). The upper-end of the price-change distribution (price increases above 3.0 percent) was fairly similar to its 2010 average of 23 percent, holding nearly 20 percent of the consumers’ marketbasket. Confirming some of the slight firming in November relative to the past three months; the sticky price CPI—an index of those items that change price infrequently—rose 1.7 percent during the month, outpacing its annualized growth rate of 0.8 percent over the prior three months and posting its largest annualized monthly increase since April 2009, though that is still below its long-term (5-year average) of 2.2 percent.
  • 12.15.2010
  • Industrial Production
  • Industrial production rose 0.4 percent (nonannualized) in November, more than rebounding from a downwardly revised −0.2 percent in October (though on net prior revisions left the level of industrial production in October largely unchanged). The annualized growth rate in industrial production over the past six months is 2.9 percent, a little below its longer-term (12-month) trend of 5.4 percent. Manufacturing output rose 0.3 percent in November, though that was partially depressed by a relatively large 6.0 percent decline in motor vehicles and parts production. Excluding the auto sector, manufacturing output jumped up 0.7 percent during the month, and is up 5.4 percent over the past year. Mining output 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 rose 1.9 percent during the month, its first increase in four months. Overall capacity utilization firmed up a little, rising from 74.9 percent in October to 75.2 percent in November, October; and the factory operating rate increased 0.2 percentage point to 72.8 percent in November.
  • 12.14.2010
  • PPI
  • The Producer Price Index (PPI) for finished goods jumped up at an annualized rate of 9.7 percent in November, largely due to an increase in energy prices (up 27.7 percent). On a year-over-year basis, the PPI is up 3.5 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the (“core”) PPI rebounded somewhat from a 6.7 percent decrease in October, rising 3.5 percent in November (providing further evidence that October’s decline was noise). Still, the core PPI trending at an annualized growth rate of −0.7 percent over the past three months and is up just 1.3 percent over the past year. Further back on the line of production pricing pressure was to the upside in November, as core intermediate goods rose 8.2 percent and core crude goods spiked up 44.6 percent.
  • 12.14.2010
  • Retail Sales
  • Retail sales rose 0.8 percent in November, following an upwardly revised 1.7 percent jump in October (revised up from a 1.2 percent gain). On a year-over-year basis retail sales are now up 7.7 percent. Across broad categories, sales were mostly to the upside; though autos, furniture stores, electronics and appliance stores, and miscellaneous retailers experienced decreases. Sales at gasoline stations aside (up 4.0 percent in November), the largest gains were at department stores (up 2.8 percent), clothing stores (up 2.7 percent), and sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores (up 2.3 percent). A somewhat cleaner measure of the trend in retail sales—sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations—rose 0.9 percent in November. On a year-over-year basis,“core” retail sales are up 5.9 percent (a fresh cyclical high); and are trending even higher over the near term, rising at an annualized rate of 8.4 percent over the past 3 months.
  • 12.10.2010
  • International Trade
  • The nominal trade deficit narrowed a substantial $5.9 billion in October, as exports jumped 3.2 percent while imports retreated 0.5 percent. The deficit currently stands at $38.7 billion, down from a revised $44.6 billion in September, and in its best shape since January. Goods exports were responsible for much of October’s narrowing, rising 4.2 percent as services exports inched up 0.9 percent. The increase in goods exports was broad-based but particularly pronounced in industrial supplies, automotive, capital goods, and consumer goods. October’s decline in imports was due to a 0.7 percent drop in goods, as services imports increased 0.6 percent. Over the course of the past 12 months, the trade deficit has widened by $6.4 billion, with exports up 14.9 percent and imports up 15.9 percent.

  • 12.10.2010
  • Import and Export Prices
  • Import prices jumped 1.3 percent in November, marking a fourth consecutive increase and the largest since November 2009. Petroleum imports rose in excess of 4.0 percent for a second straight month, and nonfuel import prices advanced 0.8 percent. Although growth in import prices has picked up pace recently and prices are up 3.7 percent on a year-over-year basis, the index is still considerably below its July 2008 peak (by roughly 13 percent).

    Export prices also took off in November, jumping 1.5 percent and lifting year-over-year growth from 5.8 percent to 6.5 percent. The most notable increases occurred in foods, feeds and beverages, which rose a steep 6.6 percent in November and have climbed nearly 16 percent in just the past six months. Additionally, agricultural exports saw their largest price increase on record, soaring 8.0 percent over the month.

  • 12.09.2010
  • The Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
  • Borrowing at the discount window has now jumped up to $218 million. While still an insignificant amount, this is the most discount window lending seen since June. Unofficial counts for the two Treasury purchasing programs, the reinvestment program for maturing agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities and the second round of large-scale purchases, are climbing after November’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Current estimates have the total amount of reinvestment since August at around $135 billion and the total amount of large-scale purchases at around $44 billion. There was also another $5 billion Term Deposit auction that settled after the data were released. The bid-to-cover ratio was nearly 3 and the stop-out rate was 26 basis points. In accordance with the Dodd-Frank Act, data for several emergency lending and purchasing programs were released on December 1. The data cover transactions from December 1, 2007, to July 21, 2010.
  • 12.03.2010
  • The Employment Situation
  • Nonfarm payrolls disappointed expectations (+150,000), rising just 39,000 in November. While revisions to the previous two months added 38,000 in sum, just 6,000 of that gain was from private payrolls. Over the past three months, nonfarm payrolls are averaging a gain of 62,000 a month, which isn't much of an improvement compared to its 12-month average of 70,000. The trend in private payrolls is faring a little better, averaging 107,000 over the past three months compared to its average monthly gain over the past 12 months of 91,000. Goods-producing payrolls slipped 15,000, largely on a 13,000 decrease in manufacturing payrolls, which, when compared with its December 2009 level, are up only 114,000. The service sector added 65,000 in November, but that was off its pace of 135,000 over the previous three months. Accounting for some of the drop-off in service-sector payrolls was a 28,100 decline in retail trade employment (its largest monthly decline since October 2009). Given the time of year (and the relative size of the decrease), it’s possible that the seasonal adjustment factors may be taking a little too much off the top. Still, even if employment in the retail trade was flat, it doesn't make up for the total miss in payrolls relative to expectations. The bright spots on the establishment side continue to be health care and temporary help services, up 19,200 and 39,500, respectively, in November. Temporary help services have now added nearly a half million to payrolls since September 2009, while health care employment is up roughly 300,000 over that time period. On the household side, the unemployment rate rose 0.2 percentage points to 9.8 percent in November, as the number of unemployed persons rose 273,000. Moreover, the employment-to-population ratio, which had been as high as 58.8 percent in recent months, ticked down 0.1 percentage point to 58.2 percent, back down to its current cyclical low (matching its level from last December).

  • 12.01.2010
  • Productivity and Costs
  • Nonfarm business sector productivity—real output per hour of all persons—was revised up from 1.9 percent to 2.3 percent in the third quarter, rebounding from a 1.8 percent decrease in the second quarter. The upward revision in productivity came as output was revised up by 0.7 percentage points to 3.7 percent, while hours worked were adjusted up from 1.1 percent to 1.4 percent. Real (inflation-adjusted) hourly compensation was revised up from 0.4 percent to 0.8 percent in the third quarter, but the most interesting revision was to compensation. Real hourly compensation was revised up sharply in the second quarter—from 0.1 percent to 3.7 percent. The revision appears to be tied to a benchmark revision to the manufacturing series that bumped up real hourly compensation for the manufacturing sector from −0.6 percent to 5.5 percent in the second quarter and from −1.4 percent to 0.1 percent in the third quarter. As a result of the stronger compensation profile, unit labor costs, while still solidly negative, were revised up on a year-over-year basis—from −1.9 percent to −1.1 percent.

  • 12.01.2010
  • ISM Manufacturing
  • The ISM's Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) edged down slightly in November, from an index value of 56.9 to 56.6, yet it is still above the ISM's manufacturing sector growth threshold of 50.0. While the headline index was relatively unchanged, the components showed a little more movement. Notably, the production index slipped down 7.7 points to 55.0, and the new orders index fell 2.3 points to a level of 56.6. These decreases were roughly balanced by gains in supplier deliveries (up 6.0 points) and inventories (up 2.8 points). The employment index was little changed during the month.

  • 12.01.2010
  • Constuction Spending
  • Total construction spending surprised expectations for a mild decline in October, instead turning out a 0.7 percent gain on solid performance in private residential outlays. The increase follows an identical and upwardly-revised gain in September, although total spending still falls 9.3 percent short of its year-ago level. Total private outlays rose 0.8 percent over the month, as a 2.5 percent increase in residential spending was countered by a 0.7 percent drop in nonresidential spending. Private nonresidential spending saw broad declines in all areas except for transportation and power. On a year-over-year basis, private residential spending is off 9.2 percent, while private nonresidential spending is down an even more substantial 20.7 percent. Public spending, meanwhile, rose 0.4 percent in October on increases in the majority of nonresidential categories, particularly in power and highway spending. Year-over-year growth in public spending currently sits at 2.2 percent, up from 1.2 percent in September.