Data Updates

Data Updates

April 2011

  • 04.29.2011
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income rose 0.5 percent (non-annualized) in March, following a 0.4 percent gain in February. On a year-over-year basis, personal income is up 5.3 percent (its highest growth rate since June 2008). Disposable personal income increased 0.6 percent in March and is up 4.6 percent over the past year. After adjusting for price changes, “real” disposable personal income ticked up 0.1 percent in March and is up 2.7 percent over the past year. Real personal consumption expenditures rose 0.2 percent during the month, following upwardly revised gains in January and February. Momentum as been to the upside recently, as both the 3- and 6-month annualized growth rates in real consumption—which stand at 3.1 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively—are higher than its longer-term (12-month) growth rate (2.7 percent). The personal savings rate remained at 5.5 percent in March—a level its been oscillating around over the last six months or so.
  • 04.29.2011
  • PCE
  • The Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) price index rose at an annualized rate of 5.1 percent in February, as food and energy prices continue to rise sharply. In the first quarter, headline PCE rose 3.8 percent and is up 1.6 percent over the last 4 quarters. Excluding volatile food and energy prices (core PCE), the index rose 1.6 percent in March, following increases of 2.0 percent and 2.1 percent in February and January, respectively. The near-term (3-month) annualized growth rate in the core PCE stands at 1.9 percent as of March, 1.0 percentage point above its 12-month growth rate of 0.9 percent.
  • 04.29.2011
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • According to the latest release from the University of Michigan, its Index of Consumer Sentiment was virtually unchanged during the April revision, adding 0.2 points to 69.8, though it’s below February’s level of 77.5. Much of April’s sentiment gain relative to March came from an increase in the consumer expectations component, which rose from 57.9 to 61.6. The current economic conditions component was flat at 82.5 during the month. Median year-ahead inflation expectations remained at 4.6 percent during the April revision and were unchanged from March's level. Encouragingly, longer-term (5- to 10-year) median inflation expectations were unrevised at 2.9 percent in April, holding onto a 0.3 percentage point decline from March’s level. This may suggest that households see recent energy and commodity price shocks as transitory relative price changes and not signals of higher future inflation.
  • 04.28.2011
  • GDP
  • Real GDP rose at an annualized rate of 1.8 percent in the first quarter (in line with expectations), compared to a 3.1 percent gain in the fourth quarter of 2010. The deceleration in output growth was primarily due to a sharp increase in imports (which enter in as a subtraction in GDP accounting), a slowdown in the growth rates of consumption, exports, and business fixed investment, and a larger decrease in government spending. These factors were partially offset by a jump in private inventories which added 0.9 percentage point to real GDP growth in the first quarter, after subtracting 3.4 percentage points in the fourth quarter. The year-over-year growth rate in real GDP edged down again, slipping from 2.8 percent in the fourth quarter to 2.3 percent in the first quarter, moving further away from its recent high of 3.2 percent in the third quarter. Real personal consumption rose 2.7 percent in the first quarter, compared to a 4.0 percent gain in the fourth quarter, largely as the growth in goods consumption slipped down from 9.3 percent to 4.7 percent.

    Services consumption edged up from a 1.5 percent gain in the fourth quarter to 1.7 percent in the first quarter. Despite the first quarter hiccup, the 4-quarter growth rate in consumption stands at 2.8 percent, its highest level since the first quarter of 2007, and has now risen back to its 20-year average growth rate. Real business fixed investment rose just 1.8 percent in the first quarter, following a 7.7 percent increase in the fourth quarter. A sharp decrease in structures investment—down 22 percent in the first quarter—was to blame for the slowdown in BFI growth. Contrasting the decrease in structures, equipment and software investment rose 11.6 percent, accelerating from a 7.7 percent increase in the fourth quarter. Equipment and software investment has now posted double-digit gains in five of the last six quarters and is up 15 percent over the past year. On the other hand, residential investment slipped down 4.1 percent in the first quarter, and has fallen in 18 of the last 21 quarters. Real exports rose 5.0 percent in the first quarter—a slowdown from the growth rate over the last three quarters of 8.2 percent—contributing 0.6 percentage point to real GDP growth, compared to 1.1 percentage points in the fourth quarter. Real imports bounced back from a 12.6 percent decrease in the fourth quarter, rising 4.4 percent, though this is below its 4-quarter growth rate of 9.2 percent.

    Total government consumption and investment fell 5.2 percent in the first quarter, following a 1.7 percent decrease in the fourth, pulling its 4-quarter growth rate down 0.2 percent. Federal consumption and investment plummeted 7.9 percent in the first quarter (its largest quarterly decline since the first quarter of 2000, largely on a 11.7 percent decline in defense spending. State and local government expenditures and investment fell 3.3 percent in the first quarter and is down 1.2 percent over the past year. An alternative snapshot of actual demand stemming from in the U.S.—final sales to domestic purchasers (which excludes inventories and net exports)—rose 2.4 percent in the first quarter, slowing from a 4.4 percent gain in the fourth quarter. The series is still up 3.4 percent over the past four quarters.

  • 04.27.2011
  • Durable Goods
  • New orders for durables rose 2.5 percent in March, following an upwardly revised 0.7 percent gain in February (the initial release had February’s new orders falling 0.9 percent). Over the past year new orders are up 10.5 percent. Excluding transportation, durables orders rose 1.3 percent, following a 0.6 percent increase in February. However, on a year-over-year basis, the series has been trending down from an elevated growth rate of 14.0 percent in December to 6.0 percent in March. An important signal of future equipment and software investment—new orders of nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft—jumped up 3.7 percent in March, but have yet to recover back to December’s level after a sharp 5.9 percent decrease in January. Its short run (3-month) annualized growth rate is down 7.3 percent (heavily influenced by January’s decrease). On a year-over-year basis, new orders of nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft have edged down from a near 19 percent growth rate in December, but are still up 9.2 percent. Shipments of durables jumped up 1.8 percent in March, and rose 1.3 percent after excluding transportation shipments. Durables inventories continued to grow, as manufacturers added 1.3 percent in March. Over the past year, inventories have swelled by 11.5 percent.
  • 04.26.2011
  • Housing Price Indexes
  • The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index reported that both the 10- and 20-city composites were down 1.1 percent from January. Compared to February 2010, the 10-City composite fell 2.6 percent and the 20-city composite was down 3.3 percent. Detroit was the only city to post a increase from January, while Washington D.C. is the only city to post levels higher than last February.

    The FHFA reported that U.S. housing prices in February continued to decline for the fourth consecutive month since November 2010. Prices fell 1.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from January’s steeply revised index value of 184.8 and 5.7 percent from one year earlier. Across all census divisions prices fell between 11.8 and 2.9 percent, with the greatest decline coming from the Mountain region which contains, among other states, Arizona and Nevada. Overall prices are still 18.6 percent below April 2007 peak which continues weaken the already struggling housing market.

  • 04.25.2011
  • New Home Sales
  • Sales of new single-family homes recovered in March, improving 11.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 300,000. March’s increase follows an upwardly revised decline of 13.5 percent in February. On a year-over-year basis, sales of single-family homes were down 21.9 percent in March, representing eleven consecutive months of declines. Sales of new single-family homes improved in the Northeast, Midwest, and West regions increasing 66.7 percent, 12.9 percent, and 25.9 percent, respectively. Sales in the South declined 0.6 percent following an increase of 1.2 percent increase in February. The median sales price improved 2.9 percent to 213,800,following an upwardly revised February decline of 13.1 percent. The number of single-family homes for sale stood at 182,000, representing 6.3 months of supply at the current sales pace.
  • 04.22.2011
  • Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
  • The tentative Treasury operation schedule for mid-April to mid-May was released last week. The Desk plans to purchase $97 billion during the period, $80 billion of that counting towards the completion of the second round of large-scale asset purchases and the other $17 billion as reinvestment. Also, there were two more bid list offerings from the Maiden Lane II portfolio, but none in the past week. The two combined to a current face amount of $1.16 billion and were composed of 50 securities, 45 of which were sold. The net portfolio value for Maiden Lane II has declined by about $90 million over the past two weeks, while the outstanding loan balance has remained flat. Maiden Lane I made a rather sizeable repayment on its outstanding loan balance, dropping the balance from $23.5 billion to $22.1 billion. Also, the balance of reverse repos outstanding returned to 0 and the balance of Term Deposits outstanding rose to $5 billion. The Treasury General Account fell back to more normal levels after the end of the first quarter, but spiked this week, presumably as a result of tax day, up to $73.3 billion.
  • 04.20.2011
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Preceded by a sharp downturn in February, existing single-family home sales and prices in March were up 4.0 and 2.3 percent, respectively. The pace of sales is also up to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 4.4 million units, while the inventory of existing single-family homes is up 0.7 percent to 3 million units. Across all four census regions the South posted the strongest sales gains of 8.6 percent, followed by the Midwest up 2.1 percent, the Northeast up 1.0 percent, and West remaining even with February’s sales. Compared to March 2010, however, sales and prices are down 6.5 and 5.3 percent nationally, indicating that while the national recovery is gaining momentum, the housing market still remains rather uneven.
  • 04.19.2011
  • Housing Starts
  • Single-family housing permits and starts rebounded in March after taking a significant dip in February. The pace of starts was up 7.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted rate of 422,000, over the upwardly revised February figure of 392,000. Housing permits were at a seasonally adjusted rate of 405,000, which is a 5.7 percent increase from the revised February figure of 383,000. Although we are still well below historic levels, new single-family housing construction growth remains consistent with the pace of the past several months as the economy continues to gradually improve.
  • 04.15.2011
  • CPI
  • The headline CPI jumped up at an annualized rate of 6.8 percent in March, matching its increase in February. As has been the case recently, food and energy prices accounted for a large portion of the overall increase in March (the release noted that nearly three-fourths of the overall increase was due to food and energy price increases). Food price gains have accelerated in recent months, increasing 7.5 percent over the past three months (January through March), compared with an increase of 1.6 percent over the three months prior (Octover through December). Energy prices, driven largely by gasoline price increases, have also accelerated in recent months. Excluding food and energy prices, the index rose a much more modest 1.6 percent in March, compared to a 2.4 percent rise in February. The core CPI has risen 2.0 percent over the last three months and is up 1.2 percent over the past year. Our measures of underlying inflation—the median CPI and 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI—rose 1.6 percent and 3.0 percent, respectively. Over the past two months, these two measures have disagreed markedly, with the average increase in the trim 1.4 percentage points above the median. This has pushed up the near-term (3 month) growth rate in the trim up to 3.2 percent, while the median is only 2.0 percent over the same period. It appears that the right tail of the distribution has grown fat recently, and the 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI is picking up on that skewness. Roughly 14 percent of the overall index rose at rates above 10 percent in March, and the only item in that bunch not directly related to food and energy price increases was car and truck rental (which appears to be noise; spiking up after two relatively large monthly declines).
  • 04.15.2011
  • Industrial Production
  • Industrial production rose 0.8 percent in March, following an upwardly revised 0.1 percent gain in February. Over the last 12 months, industrial production is up 5.9 percent, though its near-term (3-month annualized) growth rate is sitting slightly below that at 4.1 percent. Manufacturing production increased 0.7 percent in March and is up 6.7 percent over the past year. Output gains across manufacturing sectors were broad based, as durables production rose 1.0 percent (its seventh straight increase) and nondurable output increased 0.5 percent. Outside manufacturing, mining output rose 0.6 percent in March and utilities production jumped up 1.7 percent after two relatively large monthly declines. Overall, capacity utilization increased 0.5 percentage point to 77.4 percent.
  • 04.15.2011
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • According to the latest release from the University of Michigan, its Index of Consumer Sentiment rebounded slightly in April, rising 2.1 index points to 69.6, following a 10-point dip down to 67.5 in March. The release noted that while the recent run-up in gas and food prices may slowdown consumption, “?consumers have adopted a more moderate reaction to rising gas prices than in 2008.” Much of April’s sentiment gain came from an increase in the consumer expectations component, which rose from 57.9 in March to 61.2, but is still well below its recent high of 71.6 in February. Interestingly, median year-ahead inflation expectations remained at 4.6 percent despite further increases in gasoline prices. More importantly, longer-term (5- to 10-year) median inflation expectations actually reversed March’s jump up to 3.2 percent, falling back down to 2.9 percent in April. This may suggest that households see recent energy and commodity price shocks as transitory relative price changes and not signals of higher inflation in the future.
  • 04.14.2011
  • PPI
  • The Producer Price Index (PPI) for finished goods continued its upward climb, rising at an annualized rate of 8.6 percent in March. Again, energy prices (up 35 percent) were a large driver of the overall increase. Food prices actually edged down in March, decreasing 2.4 percent, but that was following a massive 58.4 percent spike in February (its largest increase since November 1974). On a year-over-year basis, the headline PPI is up 5.8 percent, its highest level since last March, though well below the near 10 percent growth rate seen during the mid-2008 energy price shock. Excluding volatile food and energy items, producer prices rose 3.5 percent in March and is trending at an annualized growth rate of 4.2 percent over the past three months, well above its 12-month growth rate of 1.9 percent. At earlier stages of production, pricing pressure was mixed, as core intermediate goods rose 11.4 percent and core crude goods slipped down 24.8 percent in March.
  • 04.13.2011
  • Retail Sales
  • Retail sales rose 0.4 percent in March, just below expectations of a 0.5 percent gain. The modest increase in March follows a slight upward revision to February’s increase—from 1.0 percent to 1.1 percent. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales are up 7.1 percent. “Core” retail sales—sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations—rose 0.4 percent in March. Over the past 12 months, this “core” measure of retail sales is up 5.1 percent. Across broad categories, sales were mostly positive, with sales from furniture and home furnishing stores (up 3.6 percent) gas stations (up 2.6 percent), building material and garden equipment and supplies (up 2.2 percent) and electronics and appliances (up 2.1 percent) all increasing more that 2.0 percent. On the downside, sales decreased at miscellaneous store retailers (−2.1 percent), motor vehicle and parts dealers (−1.7 percent) and nonstore retailers (−0.3 percent).
  • 04.12.2011
  • Import and Export Prices
  • U.S. import prices rose 2.7 percent in March, the sixth consecutive month to mark an increase by more than 1 percent. On a year-over-year basis, import prices increased by 9.7 percent, reflecting the largest gain since April 2010. The jump from February’s 1.4 percent import price gain to March’s 2.7 percent can be attributed to rising petroleum import prices, up 10.5 percent from the previous month and 31.3 percent from a year ago. Excluding petroleum, March’s import prices rose by a modest 0.3 percent, down from February’s 0.6 percent gain. Although gains in nonpetroleum import prices fell from March to February, they were up from a year ago by 4.2 percent, marking the largest increase since October 2008. The increase can be attributed to rising food import prices, up 4.2 percent from the previous month and 19 percent compared to a year ago. The 19 percent year-over-year change reflects the largest increase since 1994 in food import prices.

    U.S. export prices increased 1.5 percent in March, relatively unchanged from February’s 1.4 percent gain. On a year-over-year basis, export prices increased 9.5 percent. Nonfarm imports rose 1.3 percent marking the third consecutive monthly gain greater than 1 percent.

  • 04.12.2011
  • International Trade
  • The U.S. trade deficit narrowed to $45.8 billion in February, falling by $1.2 billion from January’s revised seven-month high of $47 billion. Imports fell by $3.6 billion to $210.9 billion and exports declined as well by $2.4 billion to $165.1 billion. February’s 1.7 percent drop in imports is the first decrease after four months of consecutive gains. The decline in import levels, down from January’s more than two year high, can be attributed to decreased imports of automobiles (down 10.8 percent) and decreased quantities of crude oil. Seasonal effects from the Lunar New Year influenced imports in February leading to a 7.2 percent month-over-month decline in imports from China. Exports hit record numbers for January but dropped by 1.7 percent in February. The decline stems from decreased exports of automobiles (down 9.3 percent) as well as semiconductors and engines. The overall decline in demand for automobiles, affecting both import and export levels, can be attributed to an increase in petroleum prices.

  • 04.08.2011
  • Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
  • The New York Fed rejected AIG’s offer to buy the entire Maiden Lane II portfolio. The insurance company offered $15.7 billion for the portfolio, which had a net estimated value of $15.9 billion at the time. Instead, the portfolio will be sold through bid list offerings in smaller pieces over an extended period of time. The first sale took place on April 6, where 42 of the 52 securities offered were sold. A current face amount of nearly $1.5 billion in securities was offered, and just over $1.3 billion were sold. Monthly reports of the assets sold will be released within 15 days of the end of a month, with the first report due out May 13. The Fed released its list of Discount Window transactions to Bloomberg in the first week of April. Reports focused on the amount of lending extended to domestic branches of foreign banks and to banks on the brink of failing. Another Term Deposit Facility auction was conducted on April 4, this time a $5 billion, 28-day offer. The stop-out rate for the term deposit came in at 26 basis points and the bid-to-cover ratio was over 2, similar to previous auctions. Outstanding amount of reverse repurchase agreements also topped $1.5 billion. Other numbers to note: securities lent to dealers hit $28 billion this week, its highest mark since June 2009, continuing an upward trend as the balance sheet expands. Also, the Supplemental Financing Account has been reduced to its $5 billion target as the U.S. approaches its debt ceiling. The Treasury General Account remains at somewhat elevated levels ($54.8 billion) following the decline of the Supplemental Financing Account.
  • 04.07.2011
  • Consumer Credit
  • Consumer credit continued to grow in February, rising 0.32 percent. However, on a year-over-year basis, consumer credit declined 0.65 percent. Non-revolving accounts continued to drive growth in consumer credit, improving 0.64 percent in February and marking the seventh consecutive monthly increase. The continued improvement in non-revolving accounts is likely attributed to strong auto sales, which grew 27.5 percent on a seasonally adjusted year-over-year basis in February. Consumers avoided using their credit cards and other short term loans in February as revolving accounts declined for the second consecutive month, falling 0.34 percent. On a year-over-year basis, revolving accounts are down 6.22 percent.
  • 04.01.2011
  • Employment
  • Nonfarm payrolls increased by 216,000 in March. Since their recent low in February 2010, they have risen 1.5 million. January and February’s estimates were revised up slightly (up 7,000 in sum), with an upward revision to private payrolls of 44,000 more than offsetting a downward revision to government payrolls of 37,000. Government payrolls slipped again in March, falling 14,000 (their fifth consecutive decline). The decline hass been driven largely by local government employment losses. Private payrolls rose 230,000 in March and, perhaps breaking slightly with their recent past, saw relatively broad-based gains. Only three major industries experienced employment losses in March (construction, transportation and warehousing, and information), with a combined decrease of 4,100. Goods-producing payrolls increased by 31,000 during the month, as mining employment increased 15,000 and manufacturing payrolls increased 17,000 (and construction employment fell 1,000). Recent gains in manufacturing have largely reflected gains in durables payrolls, which have averaged an increase of 22,000 over the past six months, compared to 20,000 for all of manufacturing. Private services employment rose 199,000 in March, its largest increase since November 2006. Service-side gains were led by professional and business services, which increased by 78,000 (roughly 40 percent of the increase was due to temporary help services). Also within the category, accounting and bookkeeping payrolls had a relatively large jump up of 20,000, though this may be some seasonal noise, as the not-seasonally-adjusted employment change was −1,400. Other gains on the service side came from health care and social assistance (up 44,500), leisure and hospitality (up 37,000), and retail trade (up 17,700). On the household side of the report, the unemployment rate edged down 0.1 percentage point to 8.8 percent. It has fallen 1.0 percentage point in the last four months. The employment-to-population ratio also improved in March—rising 0.1 percentage point to 58.5 percent (its highest level since last September).

  • 04.01.2011
  • Construction Spending
  • In February, for the third straight month, private construction spending declined and now stands 10.8 percent below its February 2010 level. After declining in December and January, nonresidential construction registered a small increase in February (+0.9 percent), which was offset by a 3.7 percent decline in residential construction. Residential declines were split pretty evenly between single family homes (−1.7 percent) and multifamily homes (−1.5 percent). On the nonresidential side, seven sectors saw declines over the month while four sectors—transportation, communication, power, and manufacturing—all increased. Manufacturing posted the largest over-the-month increase at 5.6 percent, but the industry is still 30.6 percent below its levels in February of last year. Transportation, which increased 2.0 percent over the month, is the only private construction sector that’s increased over the last 12 months. Spending on transportation is 19.9 percent above its February 2010 levels.

  • 04.01.2011
  • ISM Manufacturing
  • The ISM’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) declined modestly to 61.2 in March. Overall, the March index is still 0.8 index point higher than it was in March of 2010 and has maintained 20 consecutive months of growth. New orders, while on an upward trend, fell 4.7 index points to 63.3 from February to March. Production continued to increase rapidly, jumping 2.7 index points to 69.0, its highest value since January 2004. Growth in supplier deliveries also increased 3.7 index points, rising from 59.4 to 63.1 during the month. The prices index, which is not seasonally adjusted and does not factor into the overall PMI, continued its recent climb, edging up from 82.0 to 85.0 in March, though it remains below its recent peak of 91.5 in June 2008.