Data Updates

Data Updates

March 2012

  • 03.30.2012
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.2 percent in February, which follows a 0.2 percent increase in January (revised down from 0.3 percent) and a 0.4 percent increase in December (revised down from 0.5 percent). On a year-over-year basis, it was up 3.2 percent. This pulls the near-term (3-month) trend in year-over-year changes down from 4.2 percent to 3.7 percent. Disposable personal income (DPI)—personal income less current taxes—was up 0.2 percent in February following a flat reading in January. After adjusting for price changes, “real” disposable personal income dropped 0.1 percent in February and has been flat over the past three months. On a year-over-year basis, “real” DPI was up 0.3 percent, a drop-off from the 0.6 percent increase in January. The year-over-year change in “real” DPI has been below 1.0 percent for 10 consecutive months, going back to May of last year. “Real” personal consumption expenditures were up 0.5 percent in February after a 0.2 percent increase in January (revised up from zero) and a 0.1 percent increase in December (also revised up from zero). The 3-month growth rate in real consumption is at 0.2 percent, and consumption increased 1.8 percent over last February. Contributing to the gain in “real” consumption was a spike in the consumption of services. After being nearly flat for the past 6 months, services consumption jumped 0.4 percent in February.
  • 03.30.2012
  • PCE Price Index
  • The Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index increased at an annualized rate of 3.8 percent in February after an increase of 2.7 percent in January. The 3-month annualized growth rate increased from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent. On a year-over-year basis, the index was up 2.3 percent, less than the 2.4 percent increase in January. The “core” PCE price index—which excludes food and energy prices—was up just 1.6 percent in February, a drop off from the 2.7 percent increase in January. The discrepancy between the “headline” index and the “core” index was caused primarily by an increase in energy prices. Energy prices increased at an annualized rate of 52.1 percent in February. The market based “core” PCE price index—which excludes most imputed prices—increased 1.3 percent in February, after an increase of 2.1 percent in January, and is up 1.9 percent over last year.
  • 03.30.2012
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment was revised up from 74.3 to 76.2 in March, which is now a slight increase from February’s index level of 75.3. Sentiment is now at its highest level since February 2011 and slightly higher than its level at the start of last recession (75.5 in December 2007). Both the consumer expectations and current conditions components were revised up in March (from 68.0 to 69.8 for expectations and 84.2 to 86.0 for current conditions). Median short-run (one-year ahead) inflation expectations were adjusted down 0.1 percentage point to 3.9 percent in March, but are still 0.6 percentage points above its level in February. Importantly, longer-term (five-to-ten years ahead) expectations remained at 3.0 percent in March, compared to 2.9 percent in February, which suggests that respondents aren’t expecting a gas price spike in March to feed into an increase in longer-run price pressure.
  • 03.30.2012
  • Industrial Production Revision
  • The annual revision to industrial production and capacity utilization incorporates new data from the Annual Survey of Manufacturers, Current Industrial Reports, Quarterly Survey of Plan Capacity Utilization, U.S. Geological Survey, and the Department of Energy. In general, revisions left total production little changed while capacity was revised up; as a consequence capacity utilization was revised down.Measured from Q4 to Q4, total production for 2009 dropped to −11.4 percent from −11.1 percent while revisions left production gains for 2010 and 2011 essentially unchanged. Capacity revisions left 2008 levels relatively unchanged while 2009 and 2010 levels both were marked down. Given the revisions in production and capacity series, capacity utilization was revised lower for every year from 2008–2011. For Q4:2011, capacity utilization now rests at 77.8 percent compared to a previous estimate of 78.1 percent.
  • 03.28.2012
  • Durable Goods
  • New orders for durable goods rose 2.2 percent (nonannualized rate) in February, partially reversing a 3.6 percent decrease in January. Over the past year, durable goods orders are up 12.2 percent. Excluding transportation, new durables orders rose 1.6 percent in February, and are up 8.5 percent over the past year. An important signal of future equipment and software investment—new orders of nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft—rose 1.2 percent in February, following a 3.7 percent decrease in January. The series has risen at an annualized rate of 3.9 percent over the past three months, compared to its 12-month growth rate of 8.4 percent, which suggests a loss of momentum in recent months. Shipments of durables edged down 0.4 percent in February, following a roughly flat reading in January, and trending at a 8.2 percent clip over the past year. Manufacturers' inventories continued to swell in February, rising 0.4 percent, and are up 9.5 percent over the past 12 months.
  • 03.27.2012
  • Home Price Indexes
  • The 10- and 20-city S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes fell 0.8 percent from December to January. Over the past 12 months the 10-city composite has fallen 3.9 percent and the 20-city composite is down 3.8 percent. Eight of the covered cites have posted new index lows, while Denver, Detroit, and Phoenix were the only cities to post positive annual gains. Both indexes are now down 34.4 percent from their 2006 peaks and back to early 2003 levels.

    The FHFA Housing Price Index went unchanged on a seasonally-adjusted basis from December to January, and is down 0.8 percent over the past 12 months. Regionally, annual price changes ranged from a 5.2 percent increase in the West North Central division to a 2.4 percent decline in the Pacific division. The U.S. index is down 19.2 percent from its April 2007 peak and back to the early 2004 index level.

  • 03.23.2012
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family home sales fell 1.6 percent in February to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 313,000 units. February’s decline follows a downwardly revised decline of 5.4 percent to 318,000 (initial 321,000) seasonally-adjusted annualized units in January. On a year-over-year basis, sales of new single-family homes are up 11.4 percent. Regionally, sales were strongest in the Northeast and West, increasing 14.3 percent and 8.0 percent respectively. Comparatively, sales fell in the Midwest and South, declining 2.4 percent and 7.2 percent, respectively. The median and average sales price rose in February, with the median sales price increasing 8.3 percent to $233,700 and the average sale price improving 2.2 percent to $267,700. Finally, the seasonally adjusted estimate of new single-family homes for sale at the end of February stood at 150,000 units, representing 5.8 months of supply at the current sales rate.
  • 03.21.2012
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Sales of existing single-family homes fell 1.0 percent in February to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 4.06 million units. The decline in existing single-family home sales follows an upwardly revised increase of 5.1 percent in January. Compared to February 2011, sales of existing single-family homes are up 9.4 percent. The median sales price of existing single-family homes rose 1.6 percent to $157,100 in February, suggesting that prices have stabilized following January’s a downwardly revised decline of 4.9 percent. Projected inventories of existing single-family homes rose 1.4 percent in February to 2.1 million units available representing 6.2 months of supply at the current sales rate.
  • 03.20.2012
  • Housing Starts
  • Single-family housing starts fell 9.9 percent in February to an annualized rate of 457,000 units, though are still up 17.8 percent over the past year. Regional monthly changes to housing starts ranged from a 13.9 percent increase in the Northeast to a 17.4 percent decline in the South. Despite the decrease in starts, single-family building permits—which are somewhat less volatile than starts—rose 4.9 percent in February, and are up 23.6 percent on a year-over-year basis.
  • 03.16.2012
  • Industrial Production
  • Industrial production went unchanged (nonannualized) in February, following an upwardly revised estimate of 0.4 percent from 0.0 percent in January. On a year-over-year basis, overall production is up 4.0 percent. Manufacturing production increased 0.3 percent after having risen 1.1 percent in January. Breaking down the manufacturing sector, durable goods rose 0.4 percent in February, while nondurables gained 0.2 percent. Within durable goods manufacturing, nonmetallic mineral products, fabricated metal products, aerospace and miscellaneous transportation equipment, and electrical equipment, appliances and components all posted increases greater than 1.0 percent. Output for motor vehicles and parts decreased 1.2 percent for the month, but its three-month annualized growth rate continues to post strong gains of 54.2 percent. Mining output continues to slow, falling 1.2 percent, while utilities went unchanged as mild winter temperatures persist. Overall capacity utilization edged down 0.1 percentage points to 78.7 percent of capacity in February, still 1.6 percentage points below its historic average.
  • 03.16.2012
  • CPI
  • The headline CPI jumped 5.0 percent in February, but 80 percent of that was gasoline prices. Despite the uptick in February, the 12-month growth rate in the CPI remained at 2.9 percent. Contrasting the jump in gasoline prices, electricity prices were flat and natural gas prices continued to decline—slipping down 9.4 percent during the month (down 1.0 percent over the past year). Food prices—which are up 3.9 percent over the past year—were virtually unchanged in February. Excluding food and energy prices, the (“core”) CPI rose 1.2 percent in February, slightly below its near-term (3-month) growth rate of 1.9 percent, and a full percentage point below its 12-month growth rate of 2.2 percent. Our underlying inflation measures—the median CPI and 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI—gave a similar signal. The median CPI rose 1.7 percent during the month, while the 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI edged up just 1.3 percent. February’s reading for both measures fell short of their respective near-term growth rates of 2.4 percent for the median and 2.0 percent for the trim. After factoring in February’s data, the 12-month growth rate in the median CPI edged down from 2.4 percent to 2.3 percent, and the growth rate in the trim slipped down by 0.2 percentage points to 2.4 percent. Interestingly, prices of 21 out of the 45 components that we use to calculate the median CPI declined in February. After expenditure weighting, that represents roughly 30 percent of the overall marketbasket. Also, just 24 percent of the overall index rose at rates exceeding 3.0 percent in February, compared to 50 percent last month and roughly 40 percent over the past six months.
  • 03.16.2012
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment fell off a bit in March, slipping from an index level of 75.3 to 74.3. The slight overall decline came as a 2.3 point decrease in consumer expectations (from 70.3 to 68.0) was only partially offset by an 1.2 point increase in respondents collective judgment on current conditions. Median short-run (one-year ahead) inflation expectations jumped up from 3.3 percent to 4.0 percent, as gas prices spiked last month. Importantly, longer-term (five-to-ten years ahead) expectations on edged up from 2.9 percent to 3.0 percent, suggesting that respondents aren’t expecting a gas price spike to feed into an increase in longer-run price pressure.
  • 03.15.2012
  • Current Account
  • In the fourth quarter of 2011, the U.S. current account deficit expanded to −$124.1 billion, a $16.5 billion increase from the third quarter’s downwardly revised −$107.6 billion deficit (−$110.3 billion, previously). The deficit in the fourth quarter was nearly $10 billion more than consensus forecasts had predicted. Additionally, the deficit widened to the largest level in three years. As a percentage of GDP, the deficit marked 3.2 percent, up from the third quarter’s two year low of 2.9 percent. Main drivers behind the widening of the current account deficit were an increase in the trade deficit by $6.4 billion to −$141.1 billion (−$134.7 billion, previously) and a decrease in the surplus on income by $10.3 billion to $50.3 billion ($60.6 billion, previously). The expansion of the trade deficit is consistent with international trade data that shows imports growing faster than exports.
  • 03.15.2012
  • Producer Price Index
  • The Producer Price Index (PPI) for finished goods jumped up at an annualized rate of 4.4 percent in February, contrasting recent soft readings that include a modest 1.2 percent increase in January and a 1.2 decline in December. Energy prices (mostly gasoline) jumped up 17.3 percent, accounting for much of the overall increase. On the other hand, producer prices for finished consumer foods declined 1.2 percent during the month, its third straight decline. On a year-over-year basis, the headline PPI is up 3.3 percent, which is above its longer-term (20-year) growth rate of 2.3 percent, but is well off its recent cyclical high of 7.2 percent set last September. Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” PPI rose 2.0 percent in February, after a 6.2 percent spike in January. Interestingly, the a third of February’s modest increase can be tied to a single component: pharmaceutical preparations. The near-term (3-month) annnualized growth rate in the core PPI edged up from 2.7 percent to 3.6 percent in February, slightly above its 12-month growth rate of 3.0 percent. Further back on the production line, pricing pressure was mixed, as core intermediate goods prices jumped up 13.3 percent in February—well above its 2.5 percent year-over-year growth rate, and core crude goods prices slipped down 3.1 percent—in line with its 12-month growth rate of −2.5 percent.
  • 03.14.2012
  • Import and Export Prices
  • U.S. import prices increased by 0.4 percent in February after remaining unchanged throughout January and December (although both were revised down from 0.3 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively). Import prices came in lower than consensus forecasts, which had estimated a 0.6 percent rise. Although nonpetroleum import prices declined by 0.2 percent in February, they were more than offset by fuel prices which increased 1.4 percent, leading to an increase in the overall import price index. Petroleum prices were in turn the main driver behind the gains of fuel prices advancing 1.8 percent on a monthly basis and 18.4 percent year-over-year. Falling natural gas prices offset the gain in petroleum prices, thus moderating fuel price growth which declined 10.1 percent in February and 36.5 percent year-over-year. Import prices grew by 5.5 percent on a year-over-year basis, marking the slowest yearly gain since December 2010. Nonpetroleum import prices also posted one of the smallest gains seen in the past few years, rising 1.6 percent year-over-year. Excluding petroleum, there is low potential for foreign prices to put pressure on in domestic price levels in the coming months. Elevated petroleum prices, however, have the potential to weigh on GDP in the coming months.

    Export prices advanced 0.4 percent in February after increasing 0.2 percent in January. February’s gains mark the largest monthly increase since September 2011. Nonagricultural prices grew by 0.5 percent after remaining flat in January, and were offset by a 0.9 percent decline in agricultural prices (which had previously increased by 1.1 percent). On a year-over-year basis, export prices rose by 1.5 percent, marking the smallest gain since November 2009.

  • 03.13.2012
  • Retail Sales
  • Retail sales increased 1.1 percent in February and have increased 6.5 percent on a year-over-year basis. There were also upward revisions to the reading for both December (from flat to a 0.3 percent increase) and January (from a 0.4 percent to a 0.6 percent increase). After a large jump in December (2.6 percent) and a drop off in January (1.6 percent), auto sales were up a bit in February, increasing 1.6 percent. Retail sales excluding the auto sector were up 0.9 percent in February after a 1.1 percent increase in January, and are up 6.4 percent over last February. This pulled the near-term (3-month) growth rate up from 0.4 percent to 0.6 percent. Contributing to the gains in both retail sales and retail sales excluding the auto industry, sales for gasoline stations jumped up in February with an increase of 3.3 percent (likely price related) following a 1.9 percent increase in January. The impact of the increase in gas station sales on the total can be seen by looking at the “core” retail sales, which excludes autos, building supplies and gas stations. “Core” retail sales were up only 0.4 percent in February after an increase of 1.0 percent in January. The near-term growth rate for “core” retail sales increased from 0.3 percent to 0.4 percent. Other sectors that saw the strongest sales gains in February were building materials, garden equipment, and supply dealers (1.4 percent increase), clothing and accessory stores (1.8 percent increase), electronics and appliance stores (1.0 percent increase), and sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (1.0 percent increase). Sectors that saw decreases in February were furniture and home furnishing stores (1.2 percent decrease) and general merchandise stores (0.1 percent decrease).
  • 03.09.2012
  • Employment
  • Nonfarm payrolls rose 227,000 in February, following upwardly revised gains of 284,000 in January and 223,000 in December. Revisions to the past two months added 61,000 in total (roughly 20,000 of that was upward revisions to government payrolls). Monthly payroll growth has averaged a gain of 245,000 over the past 3 months, compared to an average monthly increase of 153,000 in 2011. Job gains were seen across most broad industries in February, with the only exceptions being construction (down 13,000) and retail trade (down 7,400). Industry gains were led by professional and business services, which added 82,000 in February, compared to its average monthly gain of 50,000 in 2011. Roughly half of February’s overall gain in professional and business services can be traced to an increase in temporary help services payrolls. The other big gainer in February was healthcare employment, which rose by 61,000 and has now added 360,000 over the past 12 months.

    In contrast to the slip in construction payrolls, manufacturing employment rose by 31,000 during the month, following a relatively strong (52,000) gain in January, and outpacing is average monthly gain over the past year of 19,000. Interestingly, nearly all of the gains in manufacturing payrolls over the past three months can be tied to gains in durables manufacturing (only a modest amount of that growth was due to gains in motor vehicle and parts assemblies).

    Elsewhere on the establishment side of the report, the average workweek for all employees was unchanged at 34.5 hours in February, but the manufacturing workweek ticked up 0.1 hour to 41.0 hours. Also, average hourly earnings for all employees edged up 3 cents to $23.31. However, the year-over-year growth rate in hourly earnings stands at 1.9 percent, which is running slightly below the pace of measured inflation. On the household side, the unemployment rate was flat at 8.3 percent, as a jump in the number of employed persons (+428,000) was offset by a similar gain in the labor force. Still, the employment-to-population ratio ticked up 0.1 percentage point to 58.6 percent (its first increase in three months). Despite recent improvements, the number of long-term unemployed (unemployed for 27+ weeks) was unchanged at 5.4 million in February (or about 43 percent over the pool of unemployed persons).

  • 03.09.2012
  • International Trade
  • In January, the U.S. trade deficit expanded by $2.2 billion to −$52.6 billion, up from December’s revised −$50.4 billion (−$48.8 billion, previously). January’s −$52.6 billion deficit came in higher than consensus forecasts, which predicted a −$49.0 billion deficit. Additionally, January’s deficit is the largest level since October 2008. Both imports and exports saw major gains, with imports jumping $4.7 billion to a record high of $233.4 billion and exports adding $2.6 billion to total $180.8 billion. Although the increase in trade activity is a positive sign for U.S. consumption and production, if import growth continues to outpace export growth in the coming months, the trade deficit could then negatively impact GDP in the first quarter of 2012. On a year-over-year basis, imports grew by 8.3 percent, a deceleration from double digits gains seen throughout all of 2010 and 2011. Exports advanced 7.7 percent, down remarkably from the fourth quarter average of 10.4 percent yearly gains.
  • 03.07.2012
  • Productivity and Costs
  • Nonfarm business sector productivity—real output per hour of all persons—grew at an annualized rate of 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter. This estimate comes after an upward revision to the initial estimate of 0.7 percent, and incorporates the annual benchmark revision of the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Employment Statistics. From the fourth quarter of 2010, productivity grew 0.3 percent. Quarterly productivity benefited from a slight increase in the estimate for output growth and a slight decline in the change to hours worked. Larger revisions were made to hourly compensation, which increased from a 1.9 percent fourth-quarter gain to a 3.7 percent increase. Third quarter hourly compensation was also dramatically revised, switching from a 0.3 percent decrease to a 5.7 percent increase. After adjusting for price changes, real hourly compensation grew 2.8 percent in the fourth quarter and 2.6 percent in the third quarter. These large revisions to hourly compensation pushed unit labor costs up to 2.8 percent in the fourth quarter from the initial estimate of 1.2 percent, and flipped third quarter unit labor costs from a 2.1 percent drop to a 3.9 percent gain. On a year-over-year basis, unit labor costs are now up 3.1 percent.
  • 03.07.2012
  • Consumer Credit
  • Total consumer credit rose 0.7 percent in January, marking the fifth consecutive monthly increase. Since January 2011, total consumer credit has increased in eleven of the last twelve months. Moreover, on a nominal basis, total consumer credit outstanding is down only $70.0 billion from its July 2008 peak. Compared to January 2011, total consumer credit is up 4.3 percent, representing the largest year-over-year increase in consumer credit since July 2008. Nonrevolving accounts continue to be the driver behind total consumer credit growth, increasing 1.2 percent in January. Conversely, revolving consumer credit fell 0.4 percent in January, the first decline in the series since August 2011.
  • 03.02.2012
  • Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
  • Over the course of February, the New York Fed sold the remaining securities held in the Maiden Lane II portfolio. During the month, securities with a current face value of $12.2 billion were distributed to Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse through a competitive auction. The sales will result in the full repayment of the $19.5 billion loan extended by the New York Fed and generate a net gain for the benefit of the public of approximately $2.8 billion.

    The tentative schedule for outright Treasury operations for the month of March was released at the end of February, with an announced schedule of $44 billion of purchases and $43 billion of sales. Also, it was announced at the end of the month that the New York Fed would conduct another series of small-scale reverse repo operations using all types of available collateral. The operations were scheduled to ensure that the new set of counterparties—8 banks and 2 new primary dealers—was properly set up to process the transactions. Outstanding balances on the central bank dollar liquidity swaps remained fairly constant over the month, hovering near $110 billion.

  • 03.01.2012
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income increased 0.3 percent (non-annualized) in January following a 0.5 percent increase in December, and is up 3.6 percent on a year-over-year basis. Disposable personal income (DPI)—personal income less current taxes—had only a slight 0.1 percent increase in January after a 0.4 percent increase in December. The report indicates that DPI would have been closer to 0.2 percent if not for a few special factors that affected January’s data, including a boost in current personal taxes. Those same factors would have impacted “real” disposable personal income—DPI adjusted for price changes—which was down 0.1 percent in January after a 0.3 percent gain in December. “Real” personal consumption expenditures were flat in January and have remained flat over the past three months. This has pulled its 3-month growth rate down from 0.7 percent to zero, and it is up just 1.4 percent on a year-over-year basis.
  • 03.01.2012
  • PCE Prices
  • The Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index increased at an annualized rate of 2.2 percent in January, after a 0.8 percent increase in December. This pulled the near term (3-month) annualized growth rate up from 0.7 percent to 1.3 percent. On a year-over-year basis, PCE was down from 2.5 percent in December to 2.3 percent in January. “Core” PCE—which excludes food and energy prices—was up 2.2 percent in January as well, indicating that there was not much upward pressure on the index from food and energy prices in January. Core PCE is up 1.9 percent from last year. The market-based core PCE (which excludes most imputed prices) was up 2.0 percent in January after a 1.9 percent increase in December, and the 12-month growth rate stayed at 1.9 percent.
  • 03.01.2012
  • ISM Manufacturing
  • The ISM’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) came in below consensus expectations, falling from 54.1 to 52.4 in February, but remains above its growth threshold of 50. The decline was the first in three months, as not a single component of the diffusion index recorded an increase. Decreases were led by the supplier deliveries index, which tumbled 4.6 percentage points to 49.0, its lowest reading since May 2009. New orders also fell 2.7 points to an index level of 54.9, and the employment index dropped for the third straight month to an index level of 53.2 in February. A smaller decline pushed the production index from 55.7 to 55.3, and the inventories index remained constant at 49.5. The prices index (which is not seasonally adjusted and does not enter into the overall PMI) recorded a second consecutive month of large gains, adding 6.0 points and increasing to 61.5 in February.
  • 03.01.2012
  • Construction Spending
  • After upward revisions to both November and December, private construction spending was flat in January. Nonresidential spending had a slight increase of 1.5 percent, while residential spending decreased by 1.8 percent. Since last January, private construction increased by 11.7 percent, with nonresidential leading the growth at 16.6 percent and residential following at 6.7 percent. Education and healthcare pushed the increases over December in nonresidential construction. While both manufacturing and power showed slight setbacks over December, they boast the biggest gains since last January, 38.5 percent and 28 percent, respectively. New single family houses boosted residential, increasing for the ninth consecutive month. Home improvement showed an upward trend for the second half of 2011 with January coming in at $123.5 billion, a 6.4 percent increase over a year ago.