Data Updates

Data Updates

December 2011

  • 12.27.2011
  • Home Price Indexes
  • According to today’s report, the fourth quarter started with broad-based declines in home prices. From September to October, the 10- and 20-city composites declined by 1.1 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively. Nineteen of the 20 cities covered by the indexes saw home prices decrease over the month. On an annual basis, the 10-city composite is down 3 percent and the 20-city composite is down 3.4 percent, and eighteen of the 20 MSAs are also in negative territory. Detroit (up 2.5 percent) and Washington D.C. (up 1.3 percent) were the only two cities to post positive annual gains, while Atlanta fared the worst, declining 11.7 percent from last year. Locally, home prices here in Cleveland dropped 1 percent in October and 2.4 percent from October 2010. The average price of homes here in Cleveland is now below January 2000 levels.
  • 12.23.2011
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family home sales rose for the third consecutive month to a seasonally adjusted rate of 315,000 units being sold. After an upward revision of Octobers’ figures, this represents a 1.6 percent in November. Compared to November 2010, this is a 9.8 percent overall increase in sales. Regionally sales ranged from a 30 percent decline in the Northeast to a 62.9 percent increase in the Midwest on a year-over-year basis. The median sales price of new houses sold in November 2011 was $214,100; the average sales price was $242,900. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of November was 158,000. This represents a 6 month supply of new single-family housing at the current sales rate.
  • 12.23.2011
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income rose 0.1 percent (non-annualized) in November, compared to a 0.4 percent increase in October, and has risen 3.9 percent over the past year. Disposable personal income—personal income less current taxes—was flat in November following a 0.2 percent gain in October. However, increased 0.3 percent in October, after a slight 0.1 percent increase in September. Real (inflation-adjusted) disposable income was also flat in November, given an unchanged reading on PCE inflation. Still, the trend in real disposable income is not a positive one (down 0.1 percent on a year-over-year basis), as nominal gains have failed to keep pace with inflation over the past year. Despite the lack of real income growth, consumption continues to trudge higher, as real personal consumption expenditures rose 0.2 percent in November. Real consumption is trending at an annualized rate of 3.5 percent over the past 3 months, well above its 12-month growth rate of 1.7 percent, due in large part to rising goods purchases (up 8.1 percent over the past 3 months). On the other hand, services consumption has started to decelerate. Its near-term (3 month) growth rate stands at 1.7 percent as of November, a sharp fall-off from its year-over-year trend of 3.1 percent. As consumption growth has recently outpaced disposable income gains, the savings rate has dipped, falling from 5.0 percent to 3.5 percent over the past six months.
  • 12.23.2011
  • PCE Price Index
  • The Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) price index was virtually unchanged in November, edging down at an annualized rate of 0.5 percent. On a year-over-year basis, PCE inflation has started to decelerate—largely on decreasing energy prices—and stands at 2.5 percent as of November (down 0.4 percentage points from its recent high of 2.9 percent in September). Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” PCE price index rose 1.0 percent in November, following a 0.8 percent increase in October. Upward pressure on the core PCE price index seen over the middle-months of the year appears to have dissipated, as the near-term (3 month) growth rate in the series has fallen from a recent cyclical high of 2.5 percent in July down to just 0.6 percent as of November. Over the past year, the index is up 1.7 percent. The market-based core PCE—a subgroup of the core index that only excludes most imputed prices—increased 1.6 percent in November, after an upwardly revised (but still subdued) 0.6 percent increase in October. The 12-month growth rate in the market-based core index remained at 1.7 percent in November.
  • 12.23.2011
  • Durable Goods
  • New orders for durable goods jumped up 3.8 percent (nonannualized rate) in November, though that was almost entire due to a sharp spike in orders of transportation equipment—which rose 14.7 percent during the month. Excluding transportation, new durables orders increased 0.3 percent in November, following an upwardly revised 1.5 percent gain in October, and is up 7.2 percent over the past year. An important signal of future equipment and software investment—new orders of nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft—slipped down 1.2 percent in November and after a 0.9 percent decline in October, makes its third monthly decrease in the past five months. Despite some near-term softness, the series is still up 6.5 percent over the past year. Shipments of durables fell 0.4 percent in November, following a 1.5 percent jump in October. Durables shipments excluding transportation equipment rose 0.2 percent during the months and are up 9.1 percent over the past year. After a brief pause in September, manufacturers? resumed stocking inventories of durables, adding 0.4 percent in October and 0.6 percent in November. The nominal value of inventories relative to the pace of shipments edged up from 1.8 months to 1.82 months in November, continuing its steady northward climb. And, while it is still down from its recent peak of 1.9 months in May 2009, the I/S ratio is well above its level of 1.5 months at the start of the previous recession.
  • 12.22.2011
  • GDP
  • Real GDP in the third quarter was knocked down again, slipping down to an annualized growth rate of 1.8 percent, according to the third estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). This is 0.2 percentage points (pp) below the second estimate. On a year-over-year basis, real GDP is up 1.5 percent, continuing to retreat from its recent high of 3.5 percent in 2010:Q3. Perhaps the most important aspect of today’s release is that personal consumption expenditures were revised down from a 2.3 percent gain to 1.7 percent in the third quarter. Yesterday’s Quarterly Services Survey tipped us off to the possibility of a sharp downward revision in hospital services consumption that could effect the BEA’s estimate for services growth, and that’s pretty much what happened. Services consumption was revised down a full percentage point to 1.9 percent, causing much of the overall downward revision.

    On a brighter note, goods consumption (both durables and nondurables) was nudged up slightly and is now estimated to have increased 1.4 percent in the third quarter, compared to a 1.6 percent decline in the second quarter. Still, overall consumption is now trending at a 4-quarter growth rate of 2.0 percent, below its recent high of 3.0 percent at the end of 2010. Revisions to other broad expenditure categories were modest at best. The largest revision outside consumption was to the change in private inventories, which was revised up and is now estimated to have subtracted roughly 1.4 percentage points from real GDP growth in the third quarter, compared to a 1.6 percentage point take-away according to the second estimate. Due to the downward revision to consumption, real final sales (GDP less the change in private inventories) were revised down from a 3.6 percent increase to a 3.2 percent gain in the third quarter. This is still its largest quarterly gain of the year, and marked acceleration from a 1.6 percent increase in the second quarter. However, another alternative measure of output growth—real Gross Domestic Income (GDI), which is calculated from the income-side of the NIPAs—belies the relative (though downwardly revised) strength in final sales. Real GDI rose just 0.3 percent in the third quarter and is up just 1.1 percent over the past year.

  • 12.22.2011
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales rose 4.5 percent to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 3.95 million units in November from 3.78 million units in October, and are 12.9 percent above the 3.50 million-unit level in November 2010. The median existing single-family home price was $164,100 in November, down 4.0 percent from a year ago. The monthly supply of single-family homes is now only 7 months, a decline of 7.9 percent from last month and 25.5 percent from last year. This is the lowest monthly supply of single-family housing since December 2009. With this latest report the NAR released periodic benchmark revisions with downward adjustments to sales and inventory data since 2007. Led by a decline in homes that were for-sale-by-owner, overall there was a 14 percent downward revision to sales and inventory for the four year period since 2007.
  • 12.22.2011
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment was revised up in late December by a little over 2 index points to a level of 69.9—its highest since June—and has now well above its recent low of 55.7 reached in August. The overall increase was driven in large part by the expectations component, which was revised up from 61.1 to 63.6 in December, compared to a level of just 55.4 in November. The release noted that respondents judged that prospects for the national economy had improved during the month, though the data was collected before the debate over the payroll tax cut extension grid locked. The current conditions component was also revised up during the month, from 77.9 to 79.6, compared to a level of 77.6 in November. Median inflation expectations for both the shorter-run (one-year ahead) and longer-term (five-to-ten years ahead) were unrevised in late December, at 3.1 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively.
  • 12.20.2011
  • Housing Starts
  • New privately-owned housing starts improved significantly in November, increasing 9.3 percent to 685,000 seasonally-adjusted annualized units. The improvement was driven by increases in both single-family and multifamily housing starts. In November, single-family housing starts increased for the second consecutive month, improving 2.3 percent to 447,000 seasonally-adjusted annualized units. November’s improvement follows an upwardly revised increase of 3.6 percent; however, compared to November 2010, single-family housing starts are down 1.5 percent. Comparatively, multifamily housing starts improved 25.3 percent to 238,000 seasonally-adjusted annualized units. November’s performance marks the highest level of multifamily starts since September 2008 (283,000 seasonally-adjusted annualized units). On a year-over-year basis, multifamily housing starts are up 145.4 percent.

    New privately-owned housing units authorized improved for the second consecutive month, increasing 5.7 percent to 681,000 seasonally-adjusted annualized units. Single-family housing permits increased 1.6 percent 435,000 seasonally-adjusted annualized units. While multifamily housing permits rose even more, increasing 13.9 percent to 246,000 seasonally-adjusted annualized units. On a year-over-year basis, total housing units authorized are up 20.7 percent, with single-family housing permits up 3.6 percent and multifamily housing permits, which tend to be more volatile, up 70.8 percent.

  • 12.16.2011
  • CPI
  • The headline CPI was virtually flat (edging down just 0.2 percent at an annualized rate) in November. Excluding food and energy components, the price index rose 2.1 percent in November, compared to a 1.6 percent increase in October. Over the past year, the core CPI has risen 2.2 percent, though it has decelerated lately, as its near-term (3-month) growth rate stands at just 1.5 percent through November. Interestingly, measures of underlying inflation produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland—the median CPI and 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI—came in roughly 1 percentage point lower than the core CPI in November. The median rose 1.1 percent, while the trim was up 1.0 percent. The discrepancy between the core and trimmed-mean measures appears to stem from apparel prices (particularly men’s and boy’s apparel, which jumped up 15 percent in November) putting upward pressure on the core CPI. Traditionally, apparel prices have been a relatively noisy influence on the price change indicators and recently the volatility in this series has grown markedly, so there is little reason to think upward pressure from this component is providing any meaningful signal of future inflation. For example, the variance in men’s and boy’s apparel has more than doubled in the wake of the recession, compared its average over the previous five years. If the idea of a “core” inflation measure is to amplify the signal-to-noise ratio than inclusion of this component isn’t helping.

    Aside for the jump in apparel prices, there were a couple of other notable core component price increases to mention. Rent of primary residence and owners’ equivalent rent (OER) continued on their recent upward trek, rising 2.6 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively in November. Over the past 3 months, rent is up 3.4 percent and OER has increased 1.9 percent, both exceeding their respective 12-month growth rates of 2.4 percent and 1.7 percent. Also, medical care services prices followed up a 6.6 percent spike up in October by jumping up 6.0 percent in November, pushing its 3-month growth rate to its highest level (5.0 percent) since the onset of the recession. Despite a few notable increases, the price change distribution continued to point toward a weaker trajectory than the second and (most of) the third quarter. Over the last 3 months, nearly 40 percent of the overall index posted price gains of less than 1 percent or decreased outright, compared to just 25 percent over the previous three month span. Also, just 30 percent of the index rose at rates greater than 3 percent, compared to nearly half of the index from June to August.

  • 12.15.2011
  • Industrial Production
  • Industrial production edged down 0.2 percent (nonannualized) in November, after jumping up 0.7 percent in October. On a year-over-year basis, overall production is up 3.7 percent. Manufacturing production fell 0.4 percent in November, almost completely reversing its 0.5 percent gain in October. Some of the manufacturing weakness was tied to auto production—which plummeted 3.4 percent during the month. However, even after excluding the auto sector, manufacturing production still fell 0.2 percent. Both durable and nondurable manufacturing output slipped in November. The manufacturing sector as a whole is up 3.8 percent over the past year. Outside manufacturing, mining production posted its ninth straight monthly gain, ticking up 0.1 percent in November, helping to push its 12-month growth rate up to 6.7 percent. Electric and gas utilities output slipped down 0.7 percent in November, nearly reversing an upwardly revised 0.8 percent increase in October. Capacity utilization declined by 0.2 percentage points to 77.8 percent in November but is still more than 10 percentage points above its recent cyclical low of 67.3 percent in June 2009.
  • 12.15.2011
  • Producer Price Index
  • The Producer Price Index (PPI) for finished goods rebounded from an annualized decrease of 3.7 percent in October, rising 3.2 percent in November. The rebound was due in large part to a 12.9 percent spike up in finished consumer foods. Energy prices were relatively flat in November, rising a muted 1.2 percent, compared to their year-over-year growth rate of 12.2 percent. The 12-month growth rate in the overall PPI continued to edge away from its recent high of 7.1 percent in July, and, as of November, stands at 5.9 percent (which is still elevated relative to its 20-year trend growth rate of 2.3 percent). Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” PPI rose 1.3 percent in November, following a flat reading in October. Over the past three months, the annualized growth rate in the core PPI is just 1.3 percent, compared to its longer-term (12-month) growth rate of 2.9 percent. Further back on the production line, pricing pressure continued to ebb, as core intermediate goods prices fell 4.9 percent and core crude goods—which are up 11.8 percent over the past year—followed up October’s 40.8 percent plunge by diving down 26.3 percent in November.
  • 12.15.2011
  • Current Account
  • In the third quarter of 2011, the U.S. current account deficit narrowed to −$110.3 billion, a $14.4 billion contraction from the second quarter’s upwardly revised −$124.7 billion deficit (−$118 billion previously). As a percentage of GDP, the third quarter’s 2.9 percent marks the lowest percentage since late 2009. Additionally, the third quarter contraction represents the most pronounced decline since early 2009 and more than reverses the widening of the current account deficit that occurred in the first half of 2011. A contraction in the trade deficit, falling $12 billion to −$135.6 billion (−$146.2 billion previously), contributed to the narrowing of the overall current account deficit. The narrowing of the trade deficit was in turn driven by a decrease in the goods deficit to $181.8 billion from $190.6 billion as well as an increase in surplus on income to $58.3 billion from $56.9 billion.
  • 12.14.2011
  • Import and Export Prices
  • U.S. import prices edged up 0.7 percent in November after falling 0.5 percent in October. November thus marks the first increase since July of this year. The gain was mainly driven by a 3.6 percent jump in petroleum import prices (−1.1 percent previously) which also increased for the first time since July. Partially offsetting rising petroleum prices, non-petroleum import prices fell 0.2 percent for the second consecutive month. On a year-over-year basis, import prices were up 9.9 percent, decelerating from October’s 10.9 percent yearly gain. Non-petroleum import prices were also up on a yearly basis with gains of 3.7 percent and slowed as well compared to October’s 4.9 percent year-over-year gains.

    U.S. export prices increased 0.1 percent in November after falling 2.1 percent in October. Agricultural and food prices posted gains of 1.5 percent while nonagricultural prices marked losses of 0.1 percent. Year-over-year export prices posted gains of 4.7, but decelerated from October’s 6.3 percent pace.

  • 12.13.2011
  • Retail Sales
  • Retail sales edged up 0.2 percent in November following an upwardly revised 0.6 percent gain in October, and are up 6.8 percent on a year-over-year basis. While auto sales posted another fairly strong gain (up 0.7 percent in November) retail sales excluding that sector were still up 0.2 percent during the month. However, cross-category performance was mixed. The strongest gains were seen at electronics and appliance stores (up 2.1 percent) and nonstore retailers (up 1.5 percent) perhaps offering evidence of swifter-than-usual holiday sales. Those gains were partially offset by sales decreases in miscellaneous store retailers, building material and supplies dealers, and food and beverage stores.“Core” retail sales (sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations)—a less noisy indicator of the trend in consumption growth—rose 0.2 percent in November, echoing the top-line figure. The 3-month annualized growth rate in core retail sales stands at 6.2 percent, continuing to hover just above its 12-month growth rate of 5.5 percent, which may be a tentative sign of continued strength.
  • 12.09.2011
  • U.S. Trade
  • The U.S. trade deficit narrowed in October by $0.7 billion to −$43.5 billion, down from September’s upwardly revised −$44.2 billion (previously −$43.1 billion). For the first time since June, imports and exports both fell in the same month. Imports declined by $2.2 billion to $222.6 billion, marking the fourth decrease in the past five months. Declining for the first time in four months, exports slid $1.4 billion to $179.2 billion. October’s 1.0 percent drop in imports was driven by decreases in industrial supplies (down 3.1 percent) and automotive vehicles and parts (down 2.8 percent). Partially offsetting the pronounced declines were large gains in food and beverages (up 3.7 percent), capital goods (up 3.0 percent) and consumer goods (up 1.1 percent). On a year-over-year basis imports continue to post double-digit gains, coming in at 11.9 percent (previously 12.6 percent). Large movements drove the decline in exports with automotive vehicles dropping 0.5 percent and consumer goods falling 3.2 percent. Jumps in the categories of food and beverages (up 5.5 percent), industrial supplies (up 1.7 percent), and capital goods (up 1.1) helped offset the large declines. Although October’s exports posted double-digit gains of 12.3 percent on a year-over-year basis, they declined from September’s yearly pace of 16.1 percent.
  • 12.09.2011
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment improved in December, rising 3.6 points to an index level of 67.7. It now sits 12 points above its recent low of 55.7, which it hit in August. The overall increase was driven in large part by the expectations component, which jumped up from 55.4 in November to 61.1 in December. The current conditions component edged up 0.3 points to 77.9 during the month. Headline sentiment and its components have steadily improved from their respective lows in August, but still remain well below levels attained early in 2011. The release did note one significant downside aspect to the month’s report: Only 8 percent of consumers expect an inflation-adjusted (real) income gain in 2012, matching the all-time low set in March 1980 (an important difference being that inflation and inflation expectations were running above 10 percent at the time).This dour assessment of income growth meshes with data on wages and compensation, which have been flat-to-down in recent quarters. Shorter-run (one-year ahead) median inflation expectations ticked down 0.1 percentage point to 3.1 percent during the month, while longer-term (five-to-ten years ahead) expectations remained unchanged at 2.7 percent (at the lower end of their “normal” range).
  • 12.07.2011
  • Consumer Credit
  • Total consumer credit outstanding rose 0.31 percent in October. Moreover, in 2011, total consumer credit outstanding has risen in nine out of the last ten months and is up 2.42 percent on a year-over-year basis. Growth in consumer credit outstanding continues to be driven by nonrevolving credit, which was up 0.44 percent in October. On a year-over-year basis, nonrevolving consumer credit outstanding rose 4.21 percent. Comparatively, revolving consumer credit outstanding increased slightly, improving 0.04 percent in October but was down 1.15 percent compared to October 2010.
  • 12.06.2011
  • Factory Orders
  • New orders for manufactured goods fell 0.4 percent (nonannualized) in October after posting a 0.1 percent revised decline in September (which had marked a 0.3 percent increase before revisions). On a year-over-year basis, new orders continued to post double-digit gains of 10.8 percent in October, up slightly from September’s 10.1 percent yearly gain, but down from the 12.7 percent average yearly growth seen through August. Although factory orders marked a headline decrease, several categories showed strength including shipments (up 0.6 percent) and inventories (up 0.9 percent) with the nondurable inventory sub-category climbing 1.7 percent. Offsetting the increases were weakness in the categories of transportation goods (down 5.1 percent), durable goods (down 0.5 percent), nondurables (down 0.3 percent), and non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft (down 0.8 percent). Looking at the 3-month annualized growth rate, capital goods orders are up 6.1 percent and core capital goods rose at a 10.4 percent pace.
  • 12.02.2011
  • Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
  • The biggest balance sheet news of the month came on the last day of November. The Fed, along with five other central banks, announced changes to its liquidity swap arrangements. On the dollar liquidity that the Fed provides, the rate charged to other central banks is now 50 basis points over the overnight index swap rate instead of 100 basis points. For liquidity in the other currencies, the arrangements were reactivated through February 1, 2013, but the terms will only be determined if the need for those swaps arises. The change occurred after a month of elevated financial stress in Europe, and after the level of dollar liquidity swaps drawn by foreign central banks hovered around $2 billion throughout November. On the last day of November, the New York Fed added 8 banks to its reverse repurchase agreement counterparty list, including Bank of New York Mellon, Barclays, Citibank, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo. Also, as part of the Maturity Extension Program, the New York Fed announced its plans to buy $45 billion in long-term Treasury securities and sell $52 billion in short-term Treasury securities. On the balance sheet, the balance of TALF loans has fallen below $10 billion for the first time since May 2009. The balance of agency mortgage-backed securities has fallen from $879 billion to $829 billion since the September Federal Open Market Committee meeting.
  • 12.02.2011
  • The Employment Situation
  • Overall, November’s report was positive. Importantly, nonfarm payrolls rose by 120,000 in November (consistent with expectations), following upward revisions to the previous two months that added an additional 72,000 jobs to earlier estimates. Government payrolls continued to shrink (falling 20,000 in November), partially masking some of the strength from private payrolls (which rose 140,000). Importantly, the average gain in private payrolls over the last three months (at 160,000) is roughly on par with the longer (12-month) trend in the series of 157,000. Gains were seen across most broad categories in November. Construction was the only category with a significant decrease (down 12,000), while manufacturing employment, as hinted at by yesterday’s ISM survey, was roughly flat during the month. Retail trade employment posted the most robust gain, rising 50,000, its largest gain since April (though it is not clear whether the estimate was affected by a disproportionately large hiring of seasonal workers). Perhaps the most surprising number from this morning’s report was the relatively large tick down in the unemployment rate—from 9.0 percent to 8.6 percent. This is the largest monthly decrease in the unemployment rate since January. Partially accounting for the outsized decline, the labor force participation rate did tick down 0.2 percentage points to 64 percent; but the employment-to-population ratio improved to 58.5 percent—its highest level since March. Other evidence of labor market improvement is that the number of employed persons (according to the household survey) has increased lately. Over the last three months, the average monthly increase in employed persons was 318,000, compared to an average loss of 51,000 over the three months prior.
  • 12.01.2011
  • ISM Manufacturing
  • The ISM’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) came in above consensus expectations, jumping from 50.8 to 52.7 in November to the diffusion index’s highest level since June 2011. November’s gain was driven largely by substantial gains in the production and new orders components. The production component jumped up a whopping 6.5 percent to an index level of 56.6 in November, its strongest monthly gain since July 2009. New orders also posted a sizeable gain in November, increased 4.3 points. This comes on the heels of a 2.8 point improvement in the series in October, and now the series has risen 7.5 points from a recent index low of 49.2 in July. Gains in production and new orders were partly offset by moderate declines in the employment and supplier deliveries components. The index for manufacturing employment fell 1.7 points to 51.8 in November, following a slight 0.3 point decrease in October; while the supplier deliveries index edged just south of its growth threshold of 50 for the first time since May 2009.