Data Updates

Data Updates

February 2011

  • 02.28.2011
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income jumped up 1.0 percent (non-annualized) in January, largely as tax changes boosted disposable personal income by 0.7 percent. Still, employee compensation rose 0.4 percent during the month. Had the tax changes not occurred, the release noted that disposable personal income would have just edged up 0.1 percent in January, following a 0.4 percent gain in December. Nominal personal consumption expenditures increased 0.2 percent in January, though after adjusting for price effects, slipped down 0.1 percent during the month (its first monthly decline in nine months). Still, real consumption is up 2.8 percent over the past year, in line with its 20-year average. As a result of the large jump in disposable income outpacing consumption growth, the personal savings rate increased by 0.4 percentage point to 5.8 percent in January (its first increase since last June).
  • 02.28.2011
  • Personal Consumption Expenditure
  • The Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) price index rose at an annualized rate of 3.5 percent in January, largely on spiking energy prices. Excluding volatile food and energy prices (core PCE), the index rose 1.5 percent during the month and is up just 0.8 percent on a year-over-year basis (0.1 percentage point above 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 1.0 percent in January, compared to a 0.2 percent increase in December, and is trending at 0.8 percent over the past 12 months.
  • 02.25.2011
  • GDP
  • Real GDP in the fourth quarter of 2010 was revised down from an annualized gain of 3.2 percent to 2.8 percent, surprising expectations of a slight upward revision. Despite the 0.4 percentage point knock-down, the level of GDP (as of the fourth quarter) is still slightly above its pre-recession (2007:Q4) level. The downward adjustment to fourth quarter growth primarily reflected an upward revision to imports (which enter in as a subtraction in GDP accounting), a somewhat sharp downward revision to state and local government expenditures, and a downward adjustment to personal consumption expenditures. Real imports fell 12.4 percent in the fourth quarter, revised up from a 13.6 percent decline, which subtracted 0.2 percentage point from real GDP growth. On the other hand, exports were revised up from 8.5 percent to 9.6 percent in the second estimate, adding a little over 0.1 percentage point to growth. State and local government expenditures were revised down from a 0.9 percent decrease to a 2.4 percent decrease (now matching its decline in the fourth quarter of 2008) in the fourth quarter. Personal consumption expenditures in the fourth quarter were knocked down by 0.3 percentage point to 4.1 percent during the revision, thought that is still its strongest quarterly growth since the fourth quarter of 2006. Interestingly, business fixed investment was revised up in the fourth quarter from 4.4 percent to 5.3 percent, largely on an upward boost to structures investment (from 0.9 percent to 4.5 percent). An alternative snapshot of actual demand stemming from in the U.S.—final sales to domestic purchasers (which excludes inventories and net exports)—was knocked down slightly due to revisions, edging down from 3.4 percent to 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter, though that is still slightly above its long-term (25 year) average of 2.7 percent.
  • 02.25.2011
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment was revised up from an index level of 75.1 to 77.5 in February, as the release noted for the first time in six years respondents reported hearing more positive than negative economic news during the month. The current conditions component was relatively unchanged during the February revision, but at 86.9, it is roughly five index points higher than in January. Most of the movement during the February revision came from the expectations component, which was revised up from 67.6 to 71.6, its highest level since September 2009. Inflation expectations were largely unchanged in late February. Median one-year-ahead inflation expectations remained at 3.4 percent in February (the average expectation was 4.4 percent). Longer-term expectations remained anchored, with average expectations at 3.2 percent and the median expectation remaining at 2.9 percent.
  • 02.25.2011
  • The Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
  • There were a few minor moves over the previous two weeks that continued recent trends. Maiden Lane I and Maiden Lane III each made a payment on their outstanding loan from the New York Fed. Currently, the balance on the loan to Maiden Lane I is just over $24 billion and the balance for Maiden Lane III is down to $12.4 billion. The Supplemental Financing Account fell another $50 billion, leaving the account near $125 billion. The Treasury General Account has fallen from its year-end peak, down about $41 billion in the past two weeks. Also, a total of $5.07 billion of Term Deposits are on the balance sheet this week after the auction on February 3. Overall, there has been a downward trend in the factors that absorb reserves. Asset purchases have also continued, adding an additional $48 billion to the balance sheet over recent weeks. Excess reserves have grown as a result of the decline in factors that absorb reserves and the increase in purchases, leaving the balance of excess reserves at nearly $1.2 trillion.
  • 02.24.2011
  • Housing Price Indexes
  • The S&P/Case-Shiller monthly house price indexes continued to fall, with the 10-city and 20-city composite indexes declining 0.85 percent and 0.96 percent, respectively. December’s report marks the indexes’ fifth consecutive decline, with the 10-city and 20-city year-over-year growth rates falling deeper into negative territory and down 1.2 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively. There were only two metro areas in December’s report that showed year-over-year price growth—San Diego and Washington. The weakness in the indexes was attributed to the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit and the exhaustion of the positive momentum that the incentive had generated.

    The monthly FHFA house price index declined for the second consecutive month in December, falling 0.3 percent from its November level. On a year-over-year basis, the index declined 3.4 in December, which was an improvement over November’s year-over-year decline of 4.6 percent. The decline in the index was attributed to lingering unemployment and large inventories of for-sale homes.

  • 02.24.2011
  • New Home Sales
  • In January, sales of new single-family homes slowed to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 284,000, representing a 12.6 percent decrease over the month and a 18.6 percent decrease over the year. January’s decline represents the ninth straight month of slowing home sales, on an annual basis. The South and West were responsible for the monthly decrease, as they registered declines large enough to offset moderate increases in sales in the Northeast and Midwest. At the same time, the median sales price ticked down slightly from December’s level, but it is up 5.68 percent since January 2010. The number of single-family homes for sale at the end of January stood at 187,000, essentially unchanged from December’s level, representing a 7.9 months’ supply at the current sales pace. During the recession, the supply of homes on the market peaked at a 12.1 months’ supply. While the supply has been somewhat depleted, it still stands at about double its pre-recession norm of a 3 to 4 months’ supply.
  • 02.24.2011
  • Durable Goods
  • New orders for durables rose 2.7 percent (nonannualized rate) in January, following a slight decrease in December that was revised up sharply from −2.5 percent to −0.4 percent. However, much of the headline movements lately have been influenced by volatile aircraft orders which fell 54 percent in December, but surged 176 percent in January. Excluding transportation, durables orders plummeted 3.6 percent in January, its largest monthly decline in two years. That said, the near-term trend is still strongly positive. The 3-month annualized growth rate in durables new orders stands at 16.4 percent, continuing to outpace its 12-month growth rate (currently 10.9 percent). An important signal of future equipment and software investment—new orders of nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft—fell 6.9 percent in January, more than reversing an upwardly revised 4.3 percent gain in December. Its 12-month growth rate slipped to a still strong 14.1 percent in January (down from 19.0 percent in December) and its 3-month annualized growth rate dwindled down to 1.1 percent during the month. Shipments of durables excluding transportation increased 0.5 percent in December and are up 9.9 percent over the past year. Also, durables inventories continued to swell, rising 0.7 percent in January (its 13 consecutive monthly gain).
  • 02.23.2011
  • Existing Home Sales
  • The January report for existing single-family home sales showed continued improvement with sales increasing 2.4 percent to an annualized pace of 4.69 million units. Strength was seen in the Midwest, West, and South regions, where existing single-family home sales rose 1.0 percent 2.9 percent and 6.9 percent, respectively. January existing single family home sales fell 4.6 percent in the Northeast after increasing 16.0 percent in December. Year-over-year sales growth improved in January to 4.9 percent,up from −3.2 percent in December. Months’ supply of existing homes at the current sales pace continued to improve, declining 5.1 percent to 7.5 months and is at its lowest level since January 2010. Despite the improvement in sales of existing single-family homes, prices continued to fall. The median home price slipped 5.8 percent over the month to $159,400 and is down 2.7 percent year-over-year. January’s report noted that all cash sales, commonly associated with distressed home sales, rose to 32.0 percent, up from 26.0 percent a year ago. The increase in cash sales could explain the decline in the median existing single-family home price despite the pickup in sales.
  • 02.17.2011
  • CPI
  • The headline CPI jumped up at an annualized rate of 4.9 percent in January, following a 5.3 percent increase in December. Over the past 12-months the CPI is up 1.6 percent, but its near-term (3-month annualized) trend somewhat more elevated, at 3.9 percent. Energy commodity and food prices are exerting significant upward price pressure lately, and accounted for roughly two thirds of the overall increase in January (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). Food prices spiked in January, with the food at home index jumping up 9.3 percent (its largest increase since July 2008), as all six major food groupings posted increases. Excluding food and energy prices, the CPI rose 2.1 percent during the month, pulling up its near-term (3-month) annualized growth rate to 1.4 percent and its 12-month trend to 1.0 percent (from 0.8 percent). Price increases in apparel, airline fares, and medical care commodities were all particularly pronounced. The relatively volatile apparel index increased 13.3 percent in January (perhaps some pass-through from spiking cotton prices), posting only its third double-digit monthly increase since 2000. Airfares rose 29.6 percent in January, and have risen 33 percent over the past three months.

    Measures of underlying inflation produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland also picked up a bit in January, with the median CPI rising 2.0 percent and the 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI increasing 2.7 percent. Still, over the past 12 months, the median and trimmed-mean measures are up just 0.8 percent and 1.0 percent, respectively. A little more weight in the relative price-change distribution pushed out to the upper tail in January, with roughly 20 percent of the index (by expenditure weight) exhibiting price increases in excess of 5.0 percent, compared to an average of 12 percent in 2010. Roughly 20 percent of the overall index was also in the lower tail in January, shy of its 2010 average of 39 percent and its average over the previous three months (31 percent). Confirming the recent tick up in our other measures of underlying inflation (perhaps back to more “normal” growth rates), the sticky price CPI rose 2.0 percent in January and is trending at a rate of 1.5 percent over the past three months, compared to its year-over-year growth rate of 1.0 percent. That tick up in the trend is not just shelter components (which have risen modestly lately), as the sticky price CPI ex shelter rose 2.4 percent in January and is up 1.6 percent over the past three months.

  • 02.16.2011
  • Housing Starts
  • Single-family housing starts continued to decline in January, falling 1.0 percent. The decrease follows an 8.4 percent decline in December. The pace of starts is currently 413,000 annualized units, 19.2 percent below January 2010’s pace. Single-Family housing starts improved in the Midwest and West, increasing 25.5 percent and 5.4 percent respectively. However, single-family housing starts declined in the Northeast and the South, falling 12.8 percent and 7.7 percent. Single-family housing permits declined 4.8 percent, falling to 421,000 annualized units and are 17.3 percent below January 2010’s pace.
  • 02.16.2011
  • Producer Price Index
  • The Producer Price Index (PPI) for finished goods increased at an annualized rate of 9.6 percent in January, largely due to an increase in energy prices (up 21.0 percent). The series is now up 3.6 percent on a year-over-year basis. Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” PPI jumped 6.4 percent in January, compared to just a 2.8 percent increase in December. Over the past three months, the core PPI is now trending at a 3.5 percent annualized growth rate, and it is up 1.6 percent over the last year. Further back on the line of production, pricing pressure remains on the upside as core intermediate goods rose 5.0 percent and core crude goods spiked up 25.7 percent.
  • 02.15.2011
  • Industrial Production
  • Industrial production slipped down 0.1 percent in January, following an upwardly revised 1.2 percent jump up in December. However much of the headline movements in production came as colder-than-usual temperatures in December abated in January, contributing to a 4.1 percent spike up in utilities output in December that was somewhat reversed in January (down 1.6 percent). Manufacturing production increased 0.3 percent in January after a 0.8 percent gain in December, and is up 5.6 percent over the past year. Looking at market groups, production of business equipment continued to increase, rising by 0.9 percent over the month. Transit, information processing, industrial and other all posted monthly increases. Consumer goods production increased 0.1 percent with durable goods increasing production by 1.4 percent and nondurables decreasing by 0.3 percent over the month. Automotive goods accounted for most of the increase in durable goods, increasing by 3.0 percent over the month. Miscellaneous goods ticked up by 0.6 percent while home electronics and appliances, furniture, and carpeting both decreased. Elsewhere, mining output fell 0.7 percent in January, but is still up 7.5 percent over the past year. Total Industry Capacity utilization fell 0.1 percentage point to 76.1 percent, though that was largely due a 0.1 percentage point increase in industrial capacity, its first monthly gain since May 2009.
  • 02.15.2011
  • Retail Sales
  • Retail sales rose 0.3 percent in January, slightly below expectations of a 0.5 percent gain. The modest increase in January follows a slight downward revision to December’s increase—from 0.6 percent to 0.5 percent. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales are up 7.8 percent. Across broad categories, sales were mixed, with the largest gains coming from gas stations (up 1.4 percent), food and beverage stores (up 1.3 percent), and nonstore retailers (up 1.2 percent). On the downside, building material and supply store sales slipped down 2.9 percent during the month, more than reversing a 1.8 percent gain in December. Also, sporting goods, hobby, book, and music store sales decreased 1.3 percent during the month, though the series is still up 3.0 percent on the year. A somewhat cleaner measure of the trend in retail sales—sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations—rose 0.4 percent in January, though revisions knocked December’s 0.2 percent gain down to −0.1 percent. Over the past three months, this “core” measure of retail sales is trending at an annualized rate of 4.1 percent, a shade below its 12-month growth rate of 5.1 percent.
  • 02.15.2011
  • Import and Export Prices
  • January marked the fourth consecutive rise in import prices, all exceeding 1.0 percent. Import prices advanced 1.5 percent over the month, strengthening year-over-year growth to 5.3 percent. Petroleum prices started off the year with a 3.4 percent increase following strong gains averaging 4.6 percent in the last three months of 2010. However, even when petroleum is removed from the picture, nonpetroleum import prices still managed a sizeable 1.1 percent increase, the largest advance since April 2008, landing year-over-year growth at 3.2 percent. Imported food and beverage prices jumped 2.6 percent in January and gains have surpassed 2.0 percent in four of the past six months. Consequently, the series has charted double-digit 12-month growth for the past four months (currently at 14.8 percent).

    Export prices climbed 1.2 percent in January, doubling December’s 0.6 percent gain and lifting year-over-year growth up to 6.8 percent, its highest since late 2008. Gains were broad-based, pervading all major categories except consumer goods excluding autos, where prices slipped 0.4 percent.

  • 02.11.2011
  • The Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
  • The New York Fed added another 32 money market funds to the counterparty list for reverse repurchase agreement operations. The new additions come from 19 different investment managers, some of whom already had money market funds on the list. No operations were conducted. The Term Deposit Facility conducted a $5 billion auction of 28-day deposits. The values are not in this week’s numbers, but results have been posted showing a stop-out rate of 0.26 percent and a bid-to-cover ratio of 2.52. A total of $5.01 billion of deposits were issued. Quarterly revaluations of the three Maiden Lanes were estimated since the last balance sheet update. All three portfolios saw modest increases, with the largest jump being a $500 million addition to Maiden Lane III. After the Treasury announcement about the need to reduce the balance of the Supplemental Financing Account, the amount held at the Fed has fallen $25 billion. As a result of the SFA decline and the additional asset purchases, the balance of excess reserves has climbed $50 billion over the past two weeks. Also, the balance of securities lent to dealers and the Treasury’s General Account remained at above normal levels.
  • 02.11.2011
  • International Trade
  • The nominal trade deficit grew by $2.27 billion in December to $40.58 billion, and the initially reported decrease of $111 million in November was instead revised to a small $38 million widening. Exports rose $2.8 billion in December to $163 billion (1.8 percent), but imports rose nearly twice that much (by $5.1 billion, or 2.6 percent) to $203.5 billion, resulting in the widened deficit over the month. Both exports and imports are at their highest levels in over two years, indicating continued healing in U.S. economic activity and improvement in global economies as well. Since December 2009, U.S. exports have grown 13.7 percent, while imports have expanded 12.8 percent. Although net exports negatively contributed to gross domestic product growth in each of the first three quarters of 2010, it closed the year by adding 3.4 percentage points to real GDP growth in the fourth quarter.
  • 02.04.2011
  • Employment Situation
  • Nonfarm payrolls ticked up just 36,000 in January. Still, even after factoring the upward revisions, January’s payroll gain fell shy of the Bloomberg survey’s median forecast of 150,000. There were a couple of technical factors contributing to the poor estimate. First, annual revisions derived from unemployment insurance tax records (as well as updated birth/death model adjustments and new seasonal factors) knocked down the trajectory of the recovery a little, as the level of nonfarm payrolls in December 2010 was adjusted down by 483,000. Also, severe winter weather in January contributed to a decline in construction employment (down 32,000) and may have affected temporary help services (THS) as well. THS employment fell 11,000 in January, compared to an average gain of 25,000 per month over the last 12 months.

    The news wasn’t all bad on the goods-producing side, as manufacturing payrolls rose 49,000 in January, compared to an average monthly gain of 9,000 in 2010. On the service side, payrolls increased just 32,000, following increases in excess of 100,000 over the previous five months. Retail trade employment increased by 27,500 in January and is up just 123,000 since a trough for the series in December 2009.

    Perhaps the only constant in this release was the continued, seemingly acyclical growth in healthcare employment, which rose roughly 11,000 in January. The average weekly workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls fell by 0.1 hour to 34.2, though that appears to have been impacted by a near full hour decline in the construction workweek—from 38.1 hours to 37.3 hours. On the other hand, average hourly earnings jumped up 8 cents to $22.86, its largest monthly gain since November 2008. On the household side, annual population control adjustments (still based on the 2000 Census) decreased the civilian population by 347,000, the civilian labor force by 504,000, and employment by 472,000. Importantly, the BLS has not revised the estimates for December 2010 and earlier releases, making the comparison to January’s estimates more noisy than usual. The resulting unemployment rate slipped down by 0.4 percentage point to 9.0 percent. Regardless of the asterisk you may hang on January’s data, the unemployment rate has improved recently, but at 9.0 percent it is still well above its pre-recession level and the employment-to-population ratio improved by 0.1 percentage point in January and December and now sits at 58.4 percent (still 4.3 percentage points below its December 2007 level).

  • 02.03.2011
  • Productivity and Costs
  • Nonfarm business sector productivity—real output per hour of all persons—rose at an annualized rate of 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter, and is up 1.7 percent over the past four quarters. The productivity gain in the fourth quarter came as output rose 4.5 percent, faster than the 1.8 percent increase in hours. Hourly compensation increased 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter, compared to an upwardly revised 2.3 percent gain in the third quarter. However, after adjusting for prices changes, “real” compensation fell 0.6 percent and is up just 0.3 percent on a year-over-year basis. Unit labor costs—compensation per hour divided by output per hour—slipped down 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter and is down 0.2 percent on a year-over-year basis, implying a dearth of wage pressure on pricing decisions.
  • 02.03.2011
  • Factory Orders
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased 0.2 percent (nonannualized) in December, following an upwardly revised 1.3 percent gain in November. Excluding transportation, new orders rose 1.7 percent in December and are up 10.1 percent over the past year. Nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders rose 1.9 percent in December and is trending at an annualized rate of 8.1 percent over the past three months; still strong, but below its 12-month growth rate of 16.3 percent. Shipments of manufactured goods increased 2.0 percent in December, following a 1.6 percent increase in November, and is up 6.8 percent over the past year. Also, inventories grew for the seventh consecutive month, rising 1.1 percent in December.
  • 02.01.2011
  • ISM Manufacturing
  • The ISM’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) jumped up 60.8 in January, its highest level since May 2004. Updated seasonal factors for 2010 bumped up November and December’s levels, leaving the PMI up 1.5 points (at 58.5) through December. Gains were seen across all broad categories in January, and were particularly strong among the new orders component (up 5.8 points to 67.8) and the employment index (up 2.8 points to 61.7). January’s increase in the employment index elevated the series to its highest level since March 1973, and may bode well for Friday’s employment report. Also, the prices index, which is not seasonally adjusted and does not factor into the overall PMI, jumped up from 72.5 to 81.5 in January to its highest level since July 2008, as 64 percent of the respondents reported paying higher input prices relative to December (just 1 percent reported paying lower prices).
  • 02.01.2011
  • Construction Spending
  • Total construction spending took a surprise dip in December, falling 2.5 percent against expectations for a 0.2 percent increase, and downward revision flipped November’s 0.4 percent gain to a 0.2 percent drop. Private residential outlays and public nonresidential outlays were jointly responsible for the bulk of December’s setback. Total private spending dropped 2.2 percent over the month, with residential outlays down 4.1 percent and nonresidential outlays down 0.5 percent. Meanwhile, nonresidential public spending dipped 2.6 percent, with the heaviest declines stemming from educational, highway and street, conservation and development, and office outlays. Total spending currently falls 6.4 percent below its level in December 2009. Private residential spending is 6.8 percent below its year-ago level, while the shortfall for private nonresidential spending is even larger, at 12.3 percent.