Data Updates

Data Updates

April 2012

  • 04.30.2012
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.4 percent in March, following increases of 0.3 percent in both January and February. On a year-over-year basis, nominal income was up 3.2 percent, pulling the near-term (3-month) trend in year-over-year changes down from 3.8 percent to 3.4 percent. Disposable personal income—personal income less current taxes—increased 0.4 percent, following a 0.2 percent increase in February. After decreasing 0.1 percent in each of the prior two months, “real” disposable personal income (DPI adjusted for price changes) increased 0.2 percent. “Real” DPI has been flat over the past three months, and is up only 0.6 percent over last year. Following 0.5 percent increase in February (caused primarily by a spike in services consumption) “real” personal consumption expenditures increased 0.1 percent in March. Services consumption was flat following a 0.4 percent jump in February, and consumption of durable goods, which increased 2.1 percent in February, decreased 0.2 percent. On a year-over-year basis, real consumption was up 1.8 percent, and the three month trend in year-over-year changes increased slightly, going from 1.8 percent to 1.9 percent.
  • 04.30.2012
  • PCE Price Index
  • The Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index increased at an annualized rate of 2.5 percent in March, following an increase of 3.9 percent in February. The 3-month annualized growth rate increased from 2.5 percent to 3.1 percent, and the index was up 2.1 percent since March of last year. The “core” PCE price index—which excludes food and energy prices—was up 1.9 percent in March after increases of 2.8 percent in January and 1.7 percent in February. On a year-over-year basis, “core” PCE was up 2.1 percent compared with year-over-year changes of 1.9 percent in each of the prior three months. The market based “core” PCE price index—which excludes most imputed prices—increased at an annualized rate of 1.9 percent, following an increase of 1.6 percent in February, and has increased 2.0 percent since last year.
  • 04.27.2012
  • Real GDP
  • Real GDP in the first quarter came in below consensus expectations, growing at an annual rate of 2.2 percent, a full 0.8 percentage point lower than the growth rate in the fourth quarter. Some strength could be seen in the real consumption numbers. Consumption grew 2.9 percent in the first quarter, accelerating from its 2.1 percent fourth-quarter growth rate. Goods consumption grew 6.2 percent after durables increased another 15.3 percent, and services rebounded from a 0.4 percent increase in the fourth quarter to a 1.2 percent increase in the first. In total, consumption accounted for 2.0 percentage points of real GDP growth in the first quarter. This was also an impressive report for residential investment, which grew 19.1 percent in the first quarter after increasing 11.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010. The contribution to overall growth from residential investment was 0.4 percentage points.

    The weaker parts of the report centered on business fixed investment and government expenditures. Business investment fell 2.1 percent in the first quarter, breaking a string of eight consecutive quarterly increases. Both components of business investment were disappointing. Investment in business structures dropped 12.0 percent after a 0.9 percent fall in the fourth quarter, subtracting 0.4 percentage points from real GDP growth. Equipment and software decelerated dramatically, growing only 1.7 percent in the first quarter, its lowest reading in ten quarters. Business fixed investment reduced output growth by 0.2 percentage points in the first quarter. Government expenditures also weighed on output growth. Federal defense spending and investment continued the fourth quarter’s decline, dropping 8.1 percent, and nondefense spending and investment reversed course from its 4.5 percent fourth-quarter growth rate. Combined with state and local spending, government expenditures reduced real GDP by 0.6 percentage points.

    Export growth accelerated in the first quarter, growing 5.4 percent thanks to a large increase in the growth of exported services. The same was true for imports, which grew 4.3 percent after imported services advanced 11.0 percent. The two series offset each other in terms of real GDP growth. After adjusting for the change in private inventories, real final sales of domestic product increased 1.6 percent in the first quarter, outpacing the 1.1 percent increase in the fourth quarter.

  • 04.27.2012
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment was revised up from the initial April report, increasing from 75.7 to 76.4. This is a slight improvement from March’s index level of 76.2. The current conditions component was responsible for the upward revision, as it was changed from 80.6 to 82.9. The consumer expectations component was revised down slightly from 72.5 to 72.3. Median short-run (one-year ahead) inflation expectations were adjusted down from 3.4 percent to 3.2 percent. This is a drop off of 0.7 percentage points from March, and is 1.4 percentage points below expectations in April of last year. Longer-term (five-to-ten years ahead) inflation expectations were revised down slightly from earlier in April, going from 3.0 percent to 2.9 percent.
  • 04.26.2012
  • Durable Goods
  • New orders for durable goods fell 4.2 percent in March, more than reversing a 1.9 percent gain in February, and pulling its 12-month growth rate down from 12.0 percent to 2.7 percent. Some of the recent weakness in new orders is due to flagging transportation orders, though excluding transportation, new durables orders still fell 1.1 percent in March. On a year-over-year basis, the series is up 5.0 percent. An important signal of future equipment and software investment—new orders of nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft—also dipped a bit in March, slipping down 0.8 percent after a 2.8 percent gain in February. Dragged down by a couple of weak reports, the 3-month (annualized) growth rate in nondefense captial goods orders (ex aircraft) stands at −6.0 percent, and its 12-month trend slipped down from 10.3 percent to 3.9 percent in March. Shipments of durables fared much better than new orders, rising roughly 1.0 percent in March (0.8 percent ex transportation shipments) and is up 6.0 percent over the past year. Manufacturers’ inventories rose 0.5 percent in March and are up 8.0 percent over the past year.
  • 04.24.2012
  • Home Price Indexes
  • On a seasonally-adjusted monthly basis the 10- and 20-city S&P Case-Shiller housing price indexes rose 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively. Annually, the 10-city composite fell 3.6 percent and the 20-city composite fell 3.5 percent, both of which are improvements over January’s annual figures. Neither index has seen a positive annual rate of change since the fall of 2010. Although five of the 20 MSAs posted positive annual returns, both indexes and nine MSAs, including Cleveland (down 4.4 percent), hit new post-crisis lows. Overall the 20-city composite is back to late 2002 levels and the 10-city composite is back to early 2003 levels.

    After a downward revision to January’s figures, the FHFA housing price index rose 0.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis in February. Over the past 12-months the index has risen 0.5 percent which is the first positive annual rate of change since July 2007. Regionally, annual prices changes ranged from a 2.4 percent decline in the Pacific division to a 3.6 percent increase in the West South Central division. The index remains 19.4 percent below its April 2007 peak and now roughly the same as the January 2004 index level.

  • 04.24.2012
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family home sales fell 7.1 percent in March to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 328,000 units. March’s decline follows steep upward revisions to January’s (revised up 11,000 to 329,000) and February’s (revised up 40,000 to 353,000) new single-family home sales. Compared to March 2011, sales of new single-family homes are up 7.5 percent. Regionally, sales were strongest in the Northeast and South, improving 7.7 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively. Comparatively, sales fell in Midwest and West regions declining 20.0 percent and 27.0 percent, respectively. The median sales price fell 1.0 percent in March to $234,500, while the average sales price rose sharply, improving 8.0 percent to $291,200. Finally, the seasonally-adjusted estimate of new single-family homes for sale fell for the eighth consecutive month, declining 1.4 percent to 144,000 units representing 5.3 months of supply at the current sales rate.
  • 04.19.2012
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales fell 2.5 percent from February to March to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 3.9 million units sold. This represents a 5.9 percent increase over the past 12 months and the ninth consecutive month of positive annual growth. The median sale price of existing single-family homes rose 4.8 percent in March and 1.9 percent from last year to $163,600. Inventories fell slightly, down 0.5 percent, to 2.1 million available units for sale while the monthly supply of homes rose 3.3 percent to a 6.3 months supply at the current sales pace. Compared to last year both inventories and the monthly supply of homes has declined significantly, down 20.1 and 24.1 percent, respectively. The National Association of Realtors, NAR, notes that future home sales could be held back by tightening supply factors.
  • 04.17.2012
  • Housing Starts
  • Single-family housing starts continued to decline in March, falling 0.2 percent to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 462,000 units. The decline follows an upwardly revised decline of 9.0 percent in February. Compared to March 2011, new single-family housing starts are up 10.5 percent. Regionally, changes in housing starts ranged from −10.0 percent in the Northeast to 13.7 percent in the West. New single-family housing units authorized fell 3.5 percent in March but are up 17.9 percent on year-over-year basis.
  • 04.17.2012
  • Industrial Production
  • Industrial production went unchanged (nonannualized) in March, following another flat reading in February. On a year-over-year basis, overall production is up 3.8 percent. However, the near term trend (three month annualized growth) has fallen to 3.0 percent from 6.5 percent. Manufacturing production decreased 0.2 percent after having risen 0.8 percent in February. Breaking down the manufacturing sector, durable and nondurable goods each fell 0.2 percent in March following modest gains in February of 1.1 and 0.5 percent, respectively. Within durable goods manufacturing, nonmetallic mineral products, electrical equipment, appliances and components, and furniture and related products all posted decreases greater than 1.0 percent in March. Mining output rose 0.3 percent, after having declined 4.0 percent in February. Overall capacity utilization edged down 0.1 percentage points to 78.6 percent of capacity in February, still 1.5 percentage points below its historic average.
  • 04.16.2012
  • Retail Sales
  • Retail sales increased 0.8 percent in March, following a relatively strong 1.0 percent gain in February (revised down 0.1 percentage point), and is up 6.5 percent on a year-over-year basis. Sales were up across most major components. In fact, only health and personal care stores (down 0.2 percent) and miscellaneous store retailers (down 0.8 percent) posted decreases in March. Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were the top gainers in March, with sales that jumped up 3.0 percent during the month and are up 14.1 percent on a year-over-year basis. Sales at gasoline stations rose 1.1 percent in March, though that was likely due to an increase in gasoline prices. Auto sales rose 0.9 percent in March, and are up 8.3 percent over the past year. “Core” retail sales—a cleaner measure of consumer spending trajectory—which excludes autos, building supplies and gas stations rose 0.4 percent in March, following a 0.5 percent gain in February. For the first quarter as a whole, retail sales rose at an annualized pace of 5.9 percent, slightly higher than its four-quarter growth rate of 5.3 percent.
  • 04.13.2012
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment edged down a bit in early April, falling from an index level of 76.2 in March to 75.7. The current conditions component fell sharply: from 86 in March to 80.6 in April. However, the consumer expectations component rose 2.7 points to 72.5 in April, offsetting some of the decline in the current conditions component. Median short-run (one-year ahead) inflation expectations slipped down from 3.9 percent to 3.4 percent in April, and are 1.2 percentage points below its level a year ago. Importantly, longer-term (five-to-ten years ahead) expectations remained at 3.0 percent in April, which suggests that respondents aren’t expecting a gas price spike in March to feed into an increase in longer-run price pressure. Interestingly, the increase longer-term expectations in recent months (from around 2.7 percent in 2012:Q4 to 3.0 percent currently), appears to have been driven by the upper end of the distribution; as the 75th percentile jumped up from 4.2 percent to 4.8 percent, while the 25th percentile has remained roughly flat at 1.6 percent.
  • 04.13.2012
  • CPI
  • The headline CPI rose at an annualized rate of 3.5 percent in March, and while gasoline prices were a contributing factor (up 23 percent, accounting for a little more than one-third of the overall increase), the report appears consistent with some broad-based price pressure. Energy prices as a whole rose by 11.6 percent in March, as the jump in gas prices was partially offset by a continued decline in the price index for household energy services, which fell 4.9 percent during the month (−1.8 percent on a year-over-year basis). There is some speculation in the media that this offset may provide some relief for consumers, helping to prop up spending that otherwise would have been hamstrung by higher gas prices. Food prices rose 1.9 percent in March, and are up just 1.5 percent over the last 3 months, much lower than its 12-month growth rate of 3.3 percent. On a year-over-year basis the headline CPI is up 2.7 percent, and has been slowing from a recent high of 3.9 percent last September. However, in contrast, the growth rates in underlying inflation have been rising, perhaps to meet in the middle. Excluding food and energy prices, the (“core”) index rose 2.8 percent in March, following a much softer 1.2 percent increase in February. Over the past 3 months, the core CPI is up 2.2 percent, in line with its 12-month growth rate of 2.3 percent (which, if the usual gap holds, puts core PCE inflation very near its explicit target). The longer-run (12-month) growth rate in the core CPI has risen somewhat swiftly: roughly 1.0 percentage point over the past year. Our preferred measures of underlying inflation—the median CPI and 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI—rose 2.2 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively in March, and are both up 2.4 percent over the past 12 months.
  • 04.12.2012
  • Producer Price Index
  • The Producer Price Index (PPI) for finished goods was flat in March, following an annualized increase of 4.4 percent in February. Interestingly, energy prices slipped down 11.0 percent in March, following a 17.3 percent spike up in Februrary. Producer prices for finished consumer foods rose a modest 1.8 percent in March. On a year-over-year basis, the headline PPI is up 2.8 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 3.4 percent in March, after rising 2.0 percent in February. The near-term (3-month) annnualized growth rate in the core PPI edged up from 3.2 percent to 3.6 percent in March, slightly above its 12-month growth rate of 2.9 percent. Further back on the production line, pricing pressure was to the upside, as core intermediate goods prices jumped up 7.0 percent and volatile core crude goods prices rose 14.4 percent in March.
  • 04.12.2012
  • U.S. Trade
  • In February, the U.S. trade deficit narrowed by $6.4 to −$46.0 billion, down from January’s revised −$52.4 deficit (−$52.6 billion, previously). February marks the largest decline in the trade deficit since November 2009. Consensus forecasts had predicted a slight narrowing to −$50.0 billion, but a sharp drop in imports by −$6.3 billion to a level of $227.2 billion—the largest drop since January 2009—led to a greater than anticipated decline in the overall deficit. Although exports posted modest gains of $0.2 billion to total $18.1 billion, the increase did little to offset the decrease in imports. The smaller trade deficit could result in trade positively impacting first quarter GDP rather than negatively impacting as was previously expected. On a year-over-year basis, imports posted gains of 7.6 percent, down from January’s 8.4 percent advance and the double digit pace seen during 2011 and 2010. Exports climbed 9.3 percent on a yearly basis, up from January’s 7.8 percent gain. Like imports, exports posted yearly growth rates in the double digits for most of 2011 and 2010.
  • 04.11.2012
  • Import and Export Prices
  • U.S. import prices climbed 1.3 percent in March after falling a revised 0.1 percent in February (up 0.4 percent, previously) and remaining flat through December and January. March’s jump was well above consensus forecasts which had predicted a 0.8 percent uptick. March also marks the largest monthly increase since April of last year. A 4.3 percent increase in petroleum import prices was the main driver behind the advance in the overall index. Nonpetroleum imports rose 0.3 percent in March, marking the largest monthly increase since May 2011. On a year-over-year basis, import prices rose 3.4 percent, the smallest gain since November 2009. Similarly, nonpetroleum import prices advanced 1.4 percent year-over-year, the smallest increase since January 2010. Although import prices rose at monthly rates unseen since last year, small increases in year-over-year prices suggest a moderation of foreign prices in the months to come. Elevated petroleum prices, however, still have the potential to weigh on GDP.

    Export prices increased 0.8 percent in March, up from February’s 0.4 percent advance. Like import prices, March’s export prices mark the largest increase since April of last year. Gains in both nonagricultural export prices (up 0.5 percent) and agricultural prices (up 2.7 percent) drove March’s advance. With year-over-year gains of 0.9 percent, export prices posted the smallest increase since October 2009.

  • 04.09.2012
  • Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
  • The month of March saw a steady decline in the outstanding balances of central bank dollar liquidity swaps after the European Central Bank’s second Long-Term Refinancing Operation in late February. Outstanding balances fell from roughly $110 billion to $46 billion over the course of the month. The Treasury’s general account was erratic throughout the month as the end of the first quarter neared, spiking from $37 billion to $103 billion before falling back to $55 billion. Also, tests continue for the Fed’s reserve management tools, as there were reverse repurchase agreements and Term Deposits outstanding during the month. Another item to note is the decline in the portfolio holdings of agency debt, which dropped below $100 billion for the first time since July 2009.
  • 04.06.2012
  • Consumer Credit
  • Total consumer credit rose for the sixth consecutive month, improving 0.3 percent in February and is up 4.3 percent on year-over-year basis. Moreover, since September 2011, total consumer credit has expanded by $78.0 billion. The increase in total consumer credit can be attributed to continued strength in nonrevolving accounts, which rose 0.6 percent in February and are up 6.1 percent on a year-over-year basis. Comparatively, revolving accounts declined for the second consecutive month, falling 0.3 percent. Since February 2011, revolving accounts are up a modest 0.7 percent.
  • 04.06.2012
  • Employment Situation
  • Nonfarm payrolls rose 120,000 in March, following revised estimates for January and February that, on net, added 4,000 jobs. Despite the hiccup in March, payrolls have still managed an average increase of 210,000 over the last three months, and are trending above the 12-month average gain of 158,000. Cross-industry performance was mixed. Perhaps surprisingly, manufacturing was among the top gainers in March, adding 37,000 to payrolls (12,000 was in auto manufacturing). Other goods-producing categories didn’t fare as well, as mining and logging payrolls were flat and construction payrolls slipped down 7,000. In the service sector, employment in food services and drinking places rose 37,000, in line with its 6-month average gain of 34,000. Healthcare employment continued its upward march, rising 26,000 during the month. Employment in the financial sector jumped up 15,000 in March, its largest monthly gain since April 2006. Also, professional and business services employment rose 31,000 in March, unaided by employment in temporary help services (which was flat after jumping up 55,000 in February). On the other hand, retail trade payrolls fell by 34,000 in March, following a sharp downward revision to February’s estimate—from a gain of 25,000 to a decrease of 29,000. The average workweek for all employees edged down 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours (factory overtime was unchanged) in March. And earnings ticked up slightly (0.2 percent) and are up 2.1 percent over the past year.

    On the household side, the unemployment rate edged down 0.1 percentage point to 8.2 percent. However, that was largely due to a 164,000 decrease in the labor force. The number of employed persons slipped down 31,000 in March (which is roughly flat considering the standard error of this series). The employment-to-population ratio was nudged down 0.1 percentage point to 58.5 percent. Interestingly, the number of persons employed part-time for economic reasons slipped down from 8.1 million to 7.7 million in March, though it's not entirely clear where they went. Given the decrease in hours (from the other survey) and the contraction in the labor force, it may be tempting to speculate that these workers left the labor force, though that is not certain. Also, the number of long-term unemployed (jobless for 27+ weeks) was roughly unchanged in March, still accounting for a little more than 42 percent of the pool of unemployed persons.

  • 04.03.2012
  • Factory Orders
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased 1.3 percent (nonannualized) in February, following a decrease of 1.1 percent in January. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.9 percent for the month. The volatile durable goods orders series increased 2.4 percent following January’s decline of 3.5 percent. However, the 3-month annualized growth rate, 8.8 percent, for durable goods orders has come down from December’s reading of 34.9 percent. Nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders, considered a leading indicator of business investment spending, rose 1.7 percent for the month while its 3-month annualized growth rate (7.0 percent) continues to fluctuate from positive to negative readings. Shipments of manufactured goods were slightly positive (0.1 percent) for the month, while its 3-month annualized growth rate remains steady around 6 percent. Unfilled orders continue to grow increasing 1.3 percent in February. Over the past year, unfilled orders have increased 10.6 percent, its highest reading since August 2005. The unfilled orders-to-shipments ratio now rests at 6.23. Inventories also continue to accumulate, 0.4 percent, however the inventory/sales ratio has remained stable at 1.33.
  • 04.02.2012
  • ISM Manufacturing
  • The ISM’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) increased from 52.4 in February to 53.4 in March, matching consensus expectations. The increase was driven by large bumps in the production and employment components. Production increased 3.0 percentage points, from 55.3 to 58.3, and employment added 2.9 percentage points, going from 53.2 to 56.1. A gain was also made in the inventories index, which rose 0.5 percentage points to 50.0 and avoided a sixth consecutive month below the growth threshold of 50.0. A decline was recorded in the new orders index, falling from 54.9 to 54.5, and the supplier deliveries index remained below 50.0, dropping from 49.0 to 48.0 and indicating a faster pace of deliveries. The prices index (which is not seasonally adjusted and does not enter into the overall PMI) recorded a slight decline after two months of large increases, falling 0.5 percentage points to 61.0 in March.