Data Updates

Data Updates

May 2010

  • 05.28.2010
  • The PCE Price Index
  • The PCE price index was virtually flat in April, inching up an annualized 0.2 percent after increasing 1.3 percent in March. On a year-over-year basis, PCE prices are up 2.0 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” PCE rose 1.0 percent after advancing 1.2 percent in March. The 12-month growth rate in core prices slipped down 0.1 percentage point in April to 1.2 percent, one of the lowest points of the series, which began in the 1960s.
  • 05.28.2010
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income climbed 0.4 percent (nonannualized) in April following an identical increase in March. The 12-month growth rate slipped slightly from its recent high in March, from 2.8 percent down to 2.5, but remains higher than any other month since September 2008. Disposable personal income (peronal income less current taxes) rose 0.5 percent while nominal consumption expenditures were flat, resulting in a personal savings rate (as a percentage of disposable income) of 3.6 percent, up from 3.1 percent in March. April’s flat consumption follows six straight monthly gains, which have lifted year-over-year growth to 4.6 percent, up from a record low of −2.0 percent in the midst of the recession. The personal savings rate has edged down from its peak last May of 6.4 percent, as consumers’ spending has outpaced income growth in seven of the eleven months since then. After adjusting for price effects, real income was still up 0.4 percent in April, and personal consumption expenditures still came in flat.
  • 05.28.2010
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment rose back up to 73.6 in May’s final report, matching its readings in February and March and erasing its 1.4-point slip in April. Sentiment has pulled up from a recession low of 55.3 and sits just below January’s recent high of 74.4. The index made much progress throughout 2009 but has remained relatively flat so far in 2010. Improvement in the consumer expectations component drove the overall increase in May, rising 2.3 points to 68.8, while current economic conditions remained unchanged at 81.0. One-year-ahead average inflation expectations climbed 0.3 percentage point to 4.1 percent in May, slightly higher than the average recorded over the last five years, and longer-run (5- to 10-year-ahead) expectations rose from 3.2 percent to 3.4 percent during the month, in line with the average since 2005.
  • 05.28.2010
  • Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
  • After climbing to what would seem a more appropriate level last week, the central bank liquidity swap lines fell from $9.2 billion to $1.2 billion. What is more interesting is that the amounts drawn this week were for three-month swaps with both the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank. It appears as if there is no urgent need for dollar funding abroad. Of note in domestic markets is the fact that Discount Window lending has fallen for the twentieth consecutive week, which includes every week in 2010. This reduction in activity at the Discount Window signals a shift back into private market borrowing for some of the most troubled institutions in the financial crisis. Total outstanding Discount Window loans now stands just below $5 billion. There were no remarkable shifts in Federal Reserve liabilities this week due to the release being issued in the middle of a reserve maintenance period.
  • 05.27.2010
  • Real GDP
  • The second estimate for real GDP in the first quarter came in at 3.0 percent, 0.2 percentage point (pp) below the advance estimate and 0.5 pp lower than the Bloomberg survey’s median expectation of an upward revision to 3.5 percent. The lower estimate reflects downward revisions to personal consumption expenditures and nonresidential fixed investment, as well as an upward revision to imports, which were only partially offset by upward revisions to exports and change in private inventories. Personal consumption expenditures were revised down 0.1 pp to a 3.5 percent increase in the first quarter, contributing 0.1 pp less to real GDP growth. Real imports were revised from 8.9 percent to 10.4 percent during the quarter, slicing 0.2 pp from real GDP growth. The nonresidential investment revision, from 4.0 percent to 3.1 percent, subtracted 0.1 percent from output growth. Real exports were revised up from 5.8 percent to 7.2 percent, adding 0.2 pp to output growth. Private inventories in the advance estimate were shown to have fallen by $31.1 billion in the first quarter, while the second estimate changed this number to $33.9 billion, tacking on an additional 0.1 pp to real GDP growth. Modest adjustments to residential investment and government spending had a very minimal effect on the revision to output growth. Corporate profits were released alongside the GDP report, rising 5.5 percent ($81.4 billion) during the first quarter, the fifth consecutive quarterly increase. On a year-over-year basis, profits are up 31.0 percent, their second consecutive quarter in positive territory after eleven straight quarters of declines.
  • 05.26.2010
  • Durable Goods
  • New orders for durable goods jumped up 2.9 percent (nonannualized) in April, following an upwardly revised unchanged reading in March. The increase brings the series to its highest level since September 2008, as it has been unsteadily climbing toward its pre-recession levels since hitting a cyclical low in March 2009. April’s overall climb was largely due to a 16.1 percent rise in new orders for transportation equipment. Excluding transportation, new orders fell 1.0 percent, pulling down the 12-month growth rate to 18.0 percent from a series high of 19.2 percent in March. Orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft fell 2.4 percent after jumping 6.5 percent in March. Still, the series’ 12-month growth rate rose to 21.4 percent, a series high, and its 3-month annualized growth rate climbed to 31.5 percent. Shipments increased 1.4 percent in April, the second straight increase after two consecutive months of declines. Manufacturers added 0.7 percent to inventories, the fourth consecutive month of gains after declining every month since September 2008. On a year-over-year basis, the series has been steadily climbing since hitting a recent low in October 2009, but is still down 5.4 percent.
  • 05.26.2010
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family home sales surged again in April, rising 14.8 percent after March’s upwardly revised 29.9 percent jump. The sharp climb over these last couple of months has brought the sales pace to 504,000 annual units, its strongest since mid-2008. All U.S. census regions saw moderate to large gains except for the Northeast, where sales were flat. Inventory of new single-family homes on the market dropped a record 7.0 percent, causing the months’ supply at the current sales rate to drop from 6.2 to 5.0 months in April. The months’ supply has fallen measurably since its recession peak of 12.1 back in June 2009, and has deflated all the way down from 10.6 months a year ago last April. The boost in sales from the first-time homebuyers’ tax credit has been particularly evident this time around leading up to its extended deadline at the end of April. Since its extension last November, the sales pace has risen 42 percent, from 356,000 annual units up to 506,000.
  • 05.25.2010
  • Housing Price Indexes
  • U.S. home prices continue to chart an indecisive path toward stabilization, aided by the government’s temporary home-buyer tax credit, with mixed performance in the monthly, quarterly, and year-over-year figures. The national S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index declined 1.3 percent in the first quarter, ending a chain of three consecutive increases. However, year-over-year growth in the index was positive for the first time in over three years, at 2.1 percent. The monthly 10-city index advanced 0.2 percent in March, continuing gains begun last June, and the 20-city index was flat after slipping a slight 0.1 percent in February.

    The FHFA Purchase-Only House Price Index also fell in the first quarter (by 1.9 percent), resuming the faster pace of decline seen in 2008. Year-over-year growth in the index dropped back from −1.5 percent to −3.1 percent following four quarters of progress toward positive territory. The monthly index, meanwhile, posted a 0.3 percent increase in March after three straight months of decline.

  • 05.24.2010
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales increased a sizeable 7.4 percent in April following an upwardly revised 7.8 percent gain in March. The annual sales pace lifted to 5.05 million, its highest level since last November just before sales took a dip after the initial deadline of the first-time homebuyers’ tax credit. All regions of the U.S. shared in April’s gain except for the West, and national year-over-year growth climbed from 17.2 percent to 23.5 percent. The National Association of Realtors’ attributed rising home sales to the tax credit inducement, a return of buyer confidence with stabilizing home prices, an improving economy and mortgage rates that remain historically low. The number of existing single-family homes on the market rose by 12.8 percent in April, surpassing the concurrent pickup in sales and boosting the months’ supply to 8.2. Growth in the median sales price of existing single-family homes has gone uninterrupted for three months straight, and April marks the first positive year-over-year growth since July 2006. Last month, March had originally been reported as having year-over-year growth of 0.6 percent, but downward revision eroded it back to −0.1 percent.
  • 05.19.2010
  • Consumer Price Index
  • The headline CPI slipped down at an annualized rate of 0.8 percent in April, reversing its 0.8 percent gain in March. The overall index was pulled down in part by a 15.8 percent decline in energy prices. Excluding food and energy prices, the core CPI was flat during the month, ticking up just 0.6 percent at an annualized rate, which helped to pull its 12-month growth rate down to 0.9 percent (its smallest growth rate since January 1966). Measures of underlying inflation trends produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, the median and 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI, continued to come in flat, rising at annualized rates of just 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent in April. In fact, on a nonannualized basis, the median CPI has been unchanged for four consecutive months, and seven out of the past ten months. As a result, the 12-month growth rate in the median continues to crawl lower, and is down to 0.5 percent (yet another series low). The underlying component-price-change distribution seems to be exhibiting a tightening up of the extreme tails, with more mass heading toward the center of the distribution. Still, the lower tail (share of the overall index exhibiting price decreases) holds a relatively large amount of mass, nearly 40 percent in April. However, this is down from a somewhat more alarming 56 percent in March. On the upper end of the distribution, just 13 percent of the market basket exhibited price increases in excess of 4 percent in April, compared to an average of 22 percent over the past 12 months. Also, 36 percent of the index rose at rates between 0 and 2 percent, the largest share since February 2009.
  • 05.18.2010
  • PPI
  • The Producer Price Index for finished goods slipped down 1.3 percent (annualized rate) in April, following an 8.4 percent increase in March. The overall index has been bouncing around wildly as of late, but is unchanged as a whole over the last three months. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, the ldquo;core” PPI rose 2.8 percent in April, following two months of virtually unchanged readings. Still, on a year-over-year basis the core PPI is up just 1.0 percent. Further back on the line of production there was some evidence of pricing pressure, as core intermediate goods prices jumped up 13.5 percent and core crude goods prices jumped up 59.9 percent. Over the past 12 months these relatively noisy series are up 5.6 percent and 49.7 percent, respectively.
  • 05.18.2010
  • Housing Starts
  • Single-family housing starts jumped 10.2 percent in April, resulting from increases in all regions of the U.S. except for the West. April marks the largest of four consecutive increases and brings the annualized rate of housing starts to 593,000, the highest since August 2008. Despite solid increases in recent months and the fact that the pace of starts is up 55 percent from last year, the current pace is still just 57 percent of its average between 1980 and 2000. So while starts appear to be on a sound path of ascent, they have quite a ways to climb before reaching an acceptable “norm.” Permits for single-family housing starts dropped 10.7 percent in April but are still up 22 percent year-over-year.
  • 05.14.2010
  • Industrial Production
  • Industrial production (IP) jumped up at an annualized rate of 10.0 percent in April, following an upwardly revised 2.5 percent gain in March, though February’s estimate was adjusted down to a 1.3 percent loss. Over the past 12 months, industrial production is up 5.2 percent, its highest growth rate since June 2000. However, IP is still 9.0 percent below its level at the beginning of the recession. Manufacturing output rose 13.1 percent in April, nearly matching its monthly gain in March of 13.3 percent, as gains were broad-based across categories (with the exception of some transportation categories). Over the past year, manufacturing production is up 6.0 percent, its highest growth rate in 10 years. Outside manufacturing, mining output rose 18.1 percent in April (its fourth consecutive double-digit gain), and utilities production slipped down 14.5 percent during the month. Capacity utilization continued to improve in April, rising from 73.1 percent to 73.7 percent, though it is still well below its December 2007 level of 80.6 percent.
  • 05.14.2010
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment edged up in early May, increasing from an index value of 72.2 to 73.3, but is still below its recent high of 74.4, which was reached in January. Both the current conditions and consumer expectations components posted modest increases, contributing to the overall increase. The release noted that, “more favorable views among households with incomes above $75,000,” helped to spur the improvement. As sentiment improved, so did consumers’ inflation expectations. Average year-ahead inflation expectations rose 0.4 percentage point to 4.0 percent in May, tjeor highest level since October of 2008. Longer-term (5-10-year-ahead) expectations ticked up from 3.2 percent to 3.4 percent during the month, matching their average over the last five years.
  • 05.14.2010
  • Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
  • The central bank liquidity swaps took effect this week. Only the European Central Bank had an outstanding balance as of May 12 and it was already up to $9.2 billion. Expectations are for the outstanding balances on the swap lines to remain well below the previous peaks seen a little more than a year ago. The swap lines are scheduled to be available through January 2011. Balances in the Commercial Paper Funding Facility have all but rolled off, falling $2.8 billion to just $2 million this week. Also, the special purpose vehicles Maiden Lane II and III repaid a portion of their loans from the New York Fed, following their monthly repayment schedule. The outstanding balances on those loans are now $14.5 billion for Maiden Lane II and $16.2 billion for Maiden Lane III. On the liabilities side, it seems as if the wave of tax receipts has subsided, with the Treasury general account dropping nearly $42 billion this week.
  • 05.13.2010
  • Import and Export Prices
  • Import prices rose 0.9 percent (nonannualized) in April, following a 0.5 percent increase in March. The climb is largely due to a 3.3 percent jump in petroleum prices, as nonpetroleum import prices inched up 0.3 percent. Still, the 12-month growth rate of the overall index declined slightly for the third month in a row, from 11.3 percent to 11.1 percent. Nonpetroleum import prices continued to climb on a year-over-year basis after hitting a series low in July 2009, and are up 3.3 percent from last April. Export prices rose 1.2 percent in March, the largest increase since July 2008, pulling the 12-month growth rate up 0.8 percentage point to 5.7 percent. The increase was due to a 1.4 percent rise in the prices of nonagricultural commodities, as agricultural commodities prices fell by 0.7 percent.
  • 05.12.2010
  • International Trade
  • The nominal trade deficit widened for the fourth time in five months in March, though only by a slight $1.0 billion. The deficit now sits at $40.4 billion, its highest level since December 2008. Exports and imports both made strong gains during the month, continuing their upward trends begun in mid-2009. Exports climbed 3.2 percent and were led by industrial supplies and materials and capital goods. Imports rose 3.1 percent, driven by increases in industrial supplies and materials and automotive vehicles. Both the price and the volume of crude oil purchases increased, as the average price per barrel rose by $1.40 and the U.S. imported 56.2 million more barrels in March than February. The 12-month growth rates of both exports and imports rose to their highest levels since the series began in 1992, leaping 20.4 percent and 24.2 percent, respectively.
  • 05.07.2010
  • The Employment Situation
  • Nonfarm payroll employment grew by 290,000 in April, topping expectations for roughly a 200,000 gain. Census hiring inflated April’s figure by 66,000, but private payrolls still increased a healthy 231,000 when discounting the government’s boost. Revisions to February and March figures were solid as well, tacking on an additional 121,000 jobs and leaving those months’ respective gains at 39,000 and 230,000. Employment growth in April was broad-based. Jobs in goods-producing industries expanded by 65,000, and services expanded 166,000, its largest increase in over three years. The most impressive gains in the report came from manufacturing (44,000) and professional and business services (80,000), which received a helping hand yet again from temporary help hiring (26,000). Another bright spot was an increase in the average workweek for production and nonsupervisory workers, which climbed to 33.4 hours from 33.3 in March, and a 0.2 hour increase in factory overtime.

    On the household side, the unemployment rate rose 0.2 percentage point (pp) to 9.9 percent, defying expectations for a 0.1 pp decline. However, the rise should not be considered a strictly negative development because it reflects the largest influx of workers to the labor force (805,000) since January 2003. Labor force participation jumped up 0.3 pp to 65.2 percent in April (its fourth consecutive increase), and the employment-to-population ratio also continued to improve, ticking up 0.2 pp to 58.8 percent.

  • 05.07.2010
  • Federal Reserve’s Balance Sheet
  • One of the biggest concerns for the balance sheet this week did not appear on the statistical release. A British regulator, the Financial Services Authority (FSA), raised concerns over Prudential’s capital capacity to purchase AIG’s Asian subsidiary AIA, now leaving the deal in doubt. If the deal were to go through, the estimated $35.5 billion price for AIA would go toward repaying the loans that AIG had taken out from the Federal Reserve. Currently, the Fed holds $16.2 billion in preferred interests in AIA, which could be recovered in the event of a sale, as well as an extra $27 billion in outstanding loans to AIG. AIG drew an extra $1.3 billion from its revolving credit facility at the Fed, the second week in a row that the outstanding balance has increased by close to $1 billion. Last week’s report was that the increase was due to adjustments made to the terms of the credit facility. Elsewhere on the balance sheet, the CPFF dropped nearly $4 billion, as more of the remaining outstanding commercial paper in the facility has rolled off. The balance for the CPFF now stands at $2.8 billion. On the liabilities side, excess reserves fell again this week, this time by about $46 billion, but were offset by a $20 billion jump in the Treasury’s general account.
  • 05.06.2010
  • Productivity and Costs
  • After surging 6.3 percent in the fourth quarter, nonfarm business sector productivity increased at an annualized pace of 3.6 percent in the first quarter. On a year-over-year basis, productivity is up 6.3 percent, its highest growth rate since 1962:Q1. The first quarter’s productivity gain came as real output jumped up 4.4 percent, while hours worked rose for the second consecutive quarter, up 0.8 percent. Nominal compensation per hour increased 1.9 percent in the first quarter, though after adjusting for price effects, “real” compensation ticked up just 0.4 percent. Still, over the past year compensation is down 0.1 percent. As gains in output have outpaced compensation growth, unit labor costs have continued to decline, slipping down 1.6 percent in the first quarter, though this is somewhat of an improvement in the series given the growth rate over the second half of 2009 was −6.6 percent. On a year-over-year basis, unit labor costs are down 3.7 percent.
  • 05.04.2010
  • Factory Orders
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased 1.3 percent (nonannualized) in March, following an upwardly revised 1.3 percent jump in February. New orders excluding transportation rose 3.1 percent in March and are now up 15.6 percent over the past year. Orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft increased 2.3 percent in March with the 12-month growth rate up 4.9 percent. Manufacturers’ shipments increased 2.2 percent during the month, while inventories rose 0.3 percent. The I/S ratio for manufactured goods continues to decline from its peak reading of 1.47 months in January 2009 to 1.27 months.
  • 05.03.2010
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income rose 0.3 percent (nonannualized) in March, following a slight 0.1 percent gain in February. The 12-month growth rate in personal income climbed up 0.8 percentage points (pp) to 3.0 percent in March, its highest growth rate since August 2008. Disposable personal income (personal income less current taxes) rose 0.3 percent during the month, an essentially flat reading in February and a slight dip in January (down 0.2 percent). Even with the uptick in disposable income, the personal savings rate (as a percentage of disposable income) slipped down another 0.3 pp in March, continuing to edge away from its May 2009 peak of 6.4 percent. Nominal personal consumption expenditures outpaced income growth in March, jumping up 0.6 percent, following an upwardly revised 0.5 percent gain in February. After adjusting for price effects, real consumption was almost as strong, rising 0.5 percent in March. The 3-month annualized growth rate in real consumption is now up 4.7 percent, an indicator of near-term strength given its 12-month growth rate of 2.4 percent.
  • 05.03.2010
  • PCE
  • The PCE price index increased at an annualized rate of 1.1 percent in March, following a virtually unchanged reading in February. Over the past year, PCE prices are up 2.0 percent. Excluding food and energy prices (the core PCE), the index edged up just 0.4 percent, nearly matching its relatively subdued near-term trend (3-month growth rate) of 0.6 percent. The 12-month growth rate in the core PCE slipped down 0.1 percentage point In March and now stands at 1.1 percent.
  • 05.03.2010
  • Construction Spending
  • Total construction spending inched up 0.2 percent in March following four consecutive monthly declines. March’s gain was attributable to a 2.3 percent rise in public nonresidential spending, as private spending fell on both the residential and nonresidential fronts. Despite the 1.1 percent drop in private residential construction, year-over-year growth climbed positive for the first time since June 2006, at 1.2 percent. The overall picture of construction, though, remains a weak one. Total spending is still down 12.3 percent from its year-ago level, only modestly improved from last September’s trough of −15.8 percent. And both public and private nonresidential spending have reached record year-over-year lows, at −6.8 percent and a whopping −25.5 percent, respectively.
  • 05.03.2010
  • ISM Manufacturing
  • The ISM’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) continued improve in April, increasing 0.8 index point to 60.4 (its highest level since June 2004), following a 3.1 point jump in March. The overall gain in April was due to increases in the new orders, production, and employment sub-indexes. The new orders index jumped up from 61.5 to 65.7 in April, continuing its rebound from an all-time low of 22.9 in December 2008. The production index rose 5.8 points to 66.9 during the month, marking its eleventh month above the diffusion index growth threshold of 50. Also, the employment index surged to 58.5 its highest level since January 2005. Offsetting strong gains in the other components, inventories slipped from 55.3 to 49.4 and the supplier deliveries index fell from 64.9 to 61.3.
  • 05.03.2010
  • Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
  • Quarter-end revisions were made to some assets held by the Fed this week. All of the Maiden Lane portfolios were revalued according to market conditions (measuring how much the portfolios could receive if they were sold today), and each gained in their net portfolio holdings. Maiden Lane I, made up of Bear Stearns assets, climbed $700 million to $28.2 billion. Residential mortgage-backed securities from AIG in Maiden Lane II grew from $15.2 billion to $16.1 billion through the first quarter of 2010. Also from AIG, the collateralized debt obligations held in Maiden Lane III were revalued with an extra $1.5 billion. Restructuring for the credit extended to AIG was factored into the outstanding balance reported on the balance sheet this week, adding almost $1 billion to AIG’s tab. A revaluation of the loans made through TALF took place as well, knocking $1.4 billion off of the outstanding balance. On the liabilities side, the Treasury’s General Account increased by nearly $12 billion, most likely due to the continuation of inflows from tax returns.