Data Updates

Data Updates

May 2011

  • 05.31.2011
  • Housing Prices
  • The S&P Case-Shiller national home price index hit a new cyclical low in the first quarter of 2011, posting a seasonally adjusted, year-over-year decline of 5.1 percent. Since the previous quarter, the national index has fallen 4.2 percent. On a monthly basis, the 10-city composite index is down 2.9 percent over the same period, and the 20-city index is down 3.6 percent. Washington, DC, and Seattle were the only two cities to post increases (1.1 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively). In Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, and Las Vegas, average home prices are now below their January 2000 levels. Throughout the nation, home prices are now back to their mid-2002 levels.

    The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) also reports that home prices are continuing to fall. Prices are down nearly 20 percent from the early 2007 peak. The decline from February to March was less severe, only 0.3 percent, while year-over-year, it has been quite steep, 5.8 percent. On a seasonally adjusted basis, prices are down 2.5 percent since the previous quarter and 5.5 percent since this time last year. Of the nine Census Divisions, the West South Central and Mountain Divisions experienced the most extreme price movements from February to March. The Mountain Division experienced the largest decline, with a price drop of 3.4 percent. The strongest prices were in the West South Central Division, where they declined only 0.5 percent.

  • 05.27.2011
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income rose 0.4 percent (non-annualized) in April, after similar increases in March and February. On a year-over-year basis, personal income is up 4.4 percent. Disposable personal income increased 0.3 percent in April, following a downwardly revised 0.4 percent increase in March. After adjusting for price changes, “real” disposable personal income was flat in April, and following downward revisions to the previous few months its 3-month annualized trend turned negative, slipping down 0.4 percent through April. Over the past year, real disposable personal income has rising just 1.1 percent (its slowest growth rate since last May). Real personal consumption expenditures edged up just 0.1 percent in April, following downwardly revised increases of 0.1 percent in March and 0.4 percent in February. Momentum in consumption appears to be slowing, as the 3- and 6-month annualized growth rates in real consumption—which stand at 2.1 percent and 2.0 percent, respectively—are below its longer-term (12-month) growth rate (2.6 percent). Downward revisions to past disposable income data knocked the personal savings rate down from 5.5 percent to 4.9 percent in March, and it held at 4.9 percent in April.
  • 05.27.2011
  • Personal Consumption Expenditure
  • The Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) price index rose at an annualized rate of 4.1 percent in April, following a 4.7 percent increase in March as food and energy prices continue to rise sharply. Over the past year, PCE prices are up 2.2. percent. Excluding volatile food and energy prices (core PCE), the index rose 2.2 percent in April, after a downwardly revised 1.4 percent increase in March. The near-term (3-month) annualized growth rate in the core PCE stands at 1.9 percent as of April, 0.9 percentage point above its 12-month growth rate of 1.0 percent.
  • 05.27.2011
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • According to the latest release from the University of Michigan, its Index of Consumer Sentiment was revised up from 72.4 to 74.3 in late May, up from 69.8 in April. The consumer expectations component was revised up from 67.4 to 69.5 in May, a nearly 8 point gain compared to April’s value, but remain below February’s level of 71.6. The current conditions component actually ticked down slightly, from 82.5 in April to a revised 81.9 in May. Importantly, median year-ahead inflation expectations were revised down from the preliminary estimate of 4.4 percent for May to 4.1 percent, while longer-term (5- to 10-year) median inflation expectations were revised down 0.1 percentage point to 2.9 percent, unchanged from April’s level.
  • 05.26.2011
  • Real GDP
  • Real GDP was unchanged during the second estimate, rising at an annualized rate of 1.8 percent (coming in at the low end of expectations), compared to a 3.1 percent gain in the fourth quarter. While the top line number was essentially unchanged, there were some interesting revisions to the major components. Importantly, real personal consumption growth was (somewhat unexpectedly) revised down from 2.7 percent to 2.2 percent, subtracting 0.4 percentage point from growth. All three major components of consumption (durables, nondurables, and services) were knocked down during the revision. Upward revisions to nonresidential investment and private inventories offset the downward adjustment to consumption. The uptick in nonresidential investment growth was entirely due to a lessening of the decrease in structures investment—from −21.8 percent to −16.8 percent. Equipment and software investment growth was unchanged, rising 1.6 percent in the first quarter. An upward revision to private inventories added 0.3 percentage point to output growth. Also, both exports and imports were revised up moderately: exports from a gain of 5.0 percent to 9.2 percent during the second estimate, and imports were adjusted up from 4.4 percent to 7.6 percent. As some of the first quarter’s growth was swapped from consumption to inventory accumulation, final sales of domestic product (a measure some use to gauge actual demand) was knocked down by 0.2 percentage point to 0.6 percent, its smallest quarterly gain since the third quarter of 2009.
  • 05.25.2011
  • Durable Goods
  • New orders for durables fell 3.6 percent in April, nearly offsetting an upwardly revised 4.4 percent increase in March. Over the past year, new orders are up 5.3 percent. Excluding transportation, durables orders slipped down 1.6 percent in April, but are still up 6.8 percent on a year-over-year basis. An important signal of future equipment and software investment—new orders of nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft—fell 2.6 percent in April, though this came on the heels of a relatively strong 5.4 percent gain in March (that was revised up from 3.7 percent). The series has been fairly choppy lately, decreasing in four of the past seven months. Still, its near-term (3-month) annualized growth rate rose to 10.6 percent in April, while its 12-month growth rate stands at 11.2 percent. Shipments of durables fell for the first time in five months, decreasing 1.0 percent in April. Shipments ex transportation fell as well, slipping down 0.4 percent during the month. Durables inventories continued to swell, rising by 0.9 percent in April and are up 12.7 percent over the past year (its highest growth rate since the early 1980s).
  • 05.24.2011
  • New Home Sales
  • Sales of new single-family homes continued to recover in April, increasing 7.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 323,000. April’s improvement follows an upwardly revised increase 8.3 percent in March. On a year-over-year basis, sales of single family homes were down 23.1 percent in April, representing twelve consecutive months of declines. Sales of single-family homes improved in all four regions with sales in the West improving the most, increasing 15.1 percent. Sales in the Northeast, Midwest, and South increased 7.7 percent, 4.9 percent, and 4.3 percent respectively. The median sales price of single-family homes improved for the first time since December of 2010, increasing 1.6 percent, following an upwardly revised March decline 1.5 percent. The number of single-family homes for sale declined 3.9 percent to 174,000, representing the 6.5 months of supply at the current sales rate.
  • 05.20.2011
  • Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
  • There are a few continuing trends from the past two weeks that have become clear in the data. First, the larger securities portfolio has increased the average securities lending activity throughout the first part of 2011, with a weekly average of $17.5 billion in lending activity. Second, the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) portfolio has been shrinking continuously now for over a year, dropping from over $48 billion down to under $15 billion. The structure of the loans made through the TALF would suggest that there is a pretty hefty prepayment rate on these loans. Finally, the agency mortgage-backed securities acquired during the first round of asset purchases seem to be rolling off more slowly in the past couple of months than they were during last fall. Also, by our calculations, the total purchases of Treasury securities (Large-Scale Asset Purchase program 1, the reinvestment strategy, and Large-Scale Asset Purchase program 2) have now topped $1 trillion. The total amount of securities held is now over $2.5 trillion, making up the vast majority of the $2.8 trillion of total assets.
  • 05.19.2011
  • Existing Single Family Home Sales
  • Historically, April is peak home-buying season. However, the National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing single-family homes this April are down 0.5 percent from March, with only 4.4 million units (annualized) sold. Compared to April of 2010, sales are down an even steeper 12.6 percent. Although the median sales price rose to a four-month high of $163,200, prices are still down 5.4 percent from this time last year. The Northeast was hit the hardest, with an 8.5 percent decline in sales from March, which is a considerable downturn of 31.6 percent from April of last year. Further evidence of the weakness in the housing market is seen in the rise in housing inventory to 3.3 million units, a five-month high and an 11.4 percent increase from March.
  • 05.17.2011
  • Industrial Production
  • Industrial production was unchanged in April, following a 0.7 percent increase in March (that was revised down from 0.8 percent) and a 0.3 percent decrease in February (that was adjusted down from a 0.1 percent gain). The 12-month growth rate in industrial production edged down from 5.3 percent in March to 5.0 percent in April. Manufacturing output, following nine consecutive monthly increases, fell 0.4 percent in April. The decline in April, combined with lowered estimates for February and March’s gains, pushed the 3-month annualized growth rate in manufacturing production down from 6.0 percent to 1.4 percent, while its year-over-year growth rate edged lower—from 5.9 percent to 4.7 percent—but remained well above its 20-year average of 2.4 percent. Durables production more than reversed a 0.9 percent gain in March, falling 1.0 percent in April, driven in large part by a 8.9 percent decrease in motor vehicles and parts production (though across-industry performance was mixed during the month). Nondurables output rose 0.1 percent in April and is up 2.0 percent over the past year. Outside manufacturing, mining output rose 0.8 percent in April, while utilities production jumped up 1.7 percent. Total industry capacity utilization ticked down 0.1 percentage point to 76.9 percent, its second decline in three months (after roughly a year and a half of continuous improvement).
  • 05.17.2011
  • Housing Starts
  • Single-family housing starts fell 5.1 percent in April, following 7.0 percent increase in March. The pace of single-family housing starts is currently 394,000 annualized units, 30.4 percent below April 2010’s pace. The Northeast was the only region to see an improvement in single-family housing starts, increasing 12.8 percent in April. Single-family housing starts declined in the Midwest, South, and West by 7.1 percent, 7.6 percent, and 4.9 percent, respectively. Additionally, single-family housing permits fell 1.8 percent in April, declining to 385,000 annualized units. On a year-over-year basis, single-family housing permits are down 18.6 percent.
  • 05.13.2011
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • According to the latest release from the University of Michigan, its Index of Consumer Sentiment increased to 72.4 in May, up from 69.8 in April. The overall increase was due to a jump in the expectations component, which rose from 61.1 to 67.4 in May, and came despite a 2.3 point tick down in the current conditions component. Consumer expectations have risen steadily over the past three months, but remain below February’s level of 71.6. Median year-ahead inflation expectations actually edged down to 4.4 percent in May, compared to 4.6 percent in April. The release noted that the tick down was connected to an expectation that gas prices will decrease. Longer-term (5- to 10-year) median inflation expectations ticked up to 3.0 percent from 2.9 percent in April.
  • 05.13.2011
  • CPI
  • The headline CPI rose at an annualized rate of 5.2 percent in April, its fifth consecutive monthly increase in excess of 4.5 percent. Over the past six months, the CPI is up 5.1 percent, compared to its 12-month growth rate of 3.2 percent. Much of the overall increase has been tied to energy price increases over the past five months or so and April was no different, as energy prices rose roughly 30 percent, accounting for nearly half of the overall increase. Food prices, which have also been elevated recently, rose 6.4 percent in April (interestingly, it was the smallest monthly increase this year). The “slow-down” (if you can call it that) in food prices was mainly due to a 12.4 percent decrease in fruits and vegetables prices, which followed four consecutive double-digit increases. Excluding food and energy prices, the index rose a much more modest 2.2 percent in April. Still, the core CPI is up 2.1 percent over the past three months, and its 12-month growth rate stands at 1.3 percent, up 0.7 percentage points from a recent low of 0.6 percent in October 2010. The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland's measures of underlying inflation were slightly less sanguine in April. The median CPI rose 2.8 percent during the month, while the 16 percent trimmed-mean measure jumped up 3.3 percent. Recently, the trimmed-mean CPI has outpaced the median. So much so, that the 3-month annualized growth rate in the trimmed-mean has risen to 3.4 percent, 1.1 percentage points over the near-term trend in the median CPI (which stands at 2.3 percent). Over the past 12 months the trimmed-mean CPI is up 1.7 percent, while the median CPI has increased 1.4 percent. Recently, there has been some upward pressure on the right tail of the price change distribution, and the trimmed-mean has picking up on some of those rapid price increases. Roughly 22 percent of the overall index rose at rates greater than 5.0 percent in April, in line with its average over the past 3 months (23 percent). April’s price change distribution looks fairly similar to the average over the first three months of the year, but its definitely moved away from its disinflationary stance seen in 2010.
  • 05.12.2011
  • Retail Sales
  • Retail sales rose 0.5 percent in April, following a 0.9 percent gain in March. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales are up 7.6 percent. Numbers were mixed across broad categories. Nominal sales at gasoline stations led the gainers (increasing 2.7 percent), but that was likely driven by gas price increases during the month. Sales at grocery stores—up 1.5 percent in April—were also likely influenced by price increases. Elsewhere, auto sales rose 0.4 percent during the month and are up 12.2 percent over the past year. Nonstore retailers also faired well in April, with sales increasing 1.0 percent, up 15.5 percent compared with April of last year. Six out of thirteen broad industries posted sales decreases in April, with the largest declines coming from some of the discretionary spending categories: electronics & appliance stores (down 2.2 percent), sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores (down 1.9 percent), and furniture & home furnishing stores (down 1.1 percent). An alternative measure of the thrust of retail spending—“core” retail sales (sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations)—edged up just 0.2 percent during the month, its smallest increase over the past four months. Still, on a year-over-year basis, the series is up 5.5 percent.
  • 05.12.2011
  • PPI
  • The Producer Price Index (PPI) for finished goods continued its upward climb, rising at an annualized rate of 9.9 percent in April. Roughly 75 percent of that overall increase can be tied to a 34.4 percent spike in energy goods prices. Producer prices for energy goods have now risen 20 percent over the past year, compared to a 12-month growth rate of nearly 30 percent during the 2008 oil price shock. The overall PPI is up 6.9 percent over the past 12-months. Excluding volatile food and energy items, producer prices rose 3.5 percent in April and are trending at an annualized growth rate of 3.2 percent over the past three months, helping to nudge its longer-term (12-month) growth rate up to 2.1 percent, above 2 percent for the first time since August 2009. At earlier stages of production, pricing pressure was to the upside, as core intermediate goods rose 13.4 percent and core crude goods jumped up 37 percent after slipping down 25 percent in March.
  • 05.11.2011
  • U.S. Trade
  • The U.S. trade deficit widened to $48.2 in March, expanding by $2.8 billion from February’s revised $45.4 billion (previously $45.8 billion). Imports jumped $10.4 billion to $220.8 billion and exports expanded as well, posting gains of $7.7 billion to total $172.7 billion. Imports are quickly approaching their 2008 peak of $232.1 billion while exports surpassed their respective 2008 peak of $165.7 billion. March’s 4.9 percent increase in imports marks robust gains after February’s 1.7 percent decline. On a year-over-year basis, imports rose 16.4 percent. Rising oil prices due to tensions in the Middle East were a major factor contributing to the increase in imports. Additionally, rising imports of automotive vehicles (up 11 percent) contributed to the advance as well. Exports jumped by 4.6 percent on a month-over-month basis, up from February’s 1.4 percent decline. Furthermore, exports marked a 14.9 percent advance from a year ago. The robust growth is broad based with all major categories posting gains for March. Exports of services, particularly transportation services, were a notable contributor increasing by 6 percent.
  • 05.10.2011
  • Import and Export Prices
  • In April, U.S. import prices rose 2.2 percent. Although April is the seventh consecutive month marking gains greater than 1 percent, 2.2 percent is a decrease from March’s 2.6 percent rise. On a year-over-year basis, import prices advanced 11.2 percent, the highest increase since April 2010. Non-oil import prices rose 0.6 percent showing modest gains from March’s 0.4 percent advance. While gains in non-oil import prices fell from March to April, they were up from a year ago by 4.3 percent. The increase in both import prices and non-oil import prices can be attributed to higher fuel and nonfuel prices. Fuel import prices, a large contributor to overall import prices, jumped 6.7 percent in April and 34.8 percent from a year ago. Advances in nonfuel import prices were driven by 1.7 percent gains in nonfuel industrial supplies and materials as well as increases in finished goods.

    U.S. export prices increased 1.1 percent in April, down slightly from March’s gain of 1.5 percent. On a year-over-year basis, export prices rose 9.6 percent, the largest advance since July 2008. With nonfarm export prices increasing 1 percent, April is the fourth consecutive month marking gains of 1 percent or greater.

  • 05.06.2011
  • Employment Situation
  • Nonfarm payrolls rose 244,000 in April (surprising expectations to the upside) bringing its average gain over the past three months to 233,000, compared to its 12-month average increase of just 109,000. Revisions to the prior two months’ estimates added 46,000 in sum, perhaps making the headline increase a little more encouraging. Private payrolls rose 268,000 in April—its largest monthly increase since February 2006—and are averaging a gain just north of 250,000 over the past three months. Private payrolls gains have been outpacing total payrolls lately because state and local governments are shedding employees (down 142,000 in the last six months, an average loss of 24,000 per month). Employment gains were broad-based across major industries in April. Interestingly, the only decrease came from temporary help services (slipping down 2,300), which may be an indication that firms are becoming less timid with respect to permanent hires. Goods-producing employment increased 44,000 in April, compared to a 37,000 increase in March. Manufacturing employment rose 29,000 during the month, accounting for most of the increase in the goods sector. Manufacturing payrolls have swelled by 141,000 through the first four months of 2011, and are up 250,000 since a cyclical low in December 2009. Service-sector employment rose by 224,000 in April, a slight acceleration compared to March’s increase of 194,000. Retail trade payrolls rose 57,100 in April, its largest monthly gain since April 2000, though about half of that increase looks to be noise, as employment in general merchandise stores rose 27,400 rebounding from a decrease of 26,600 in March. Leisure and hospitality payrolls rose by 46,000 in April, following gains of 51,000 in March and 54,000 in February. The largest driver of this gain is employment at food services and drinking places, which have averaged a gain of 32,400 over the past three months, compared to just 3,000 over the prior three months. Elsewhere in the service-sector, health care and education employment rose 42,000 and professional and business services employment increased 26,000 (again, without a boost from temporary help services). The household side of the report didn’t mesh with the positive signs from the establishment survey (a not-all-too uncommon occurrence on a monthly frequency). The unemployment rate rose 0.2 percentage point to 9.0 percent in April as the number of unemployed persons increased by 200,000. The labor force was roughly unchanged during the month. Also, the employment-to-population ratio edged down a tenth to 58.4 percent in April.
  • 05.06.2011
  • Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
  • The first-quarter revaluations for the three Maiden Lane portfolios were included in last week’s balance sheet release. Maiden Lane (ML) I jumped from $24.3 billion to $24.8 billion, ML II from $15.9 billion to $16.1 billion, and ML III from $23.0 billion to $24.6 billion. Maiden Lane II would have increased more, but it made a larger-than-usual payment on its outstanding loan this week, dropping the balance from $12.2 billion to $10.5 billion. In the past week, Maiden Lane II has also sold 46 securities with current face amounts of $2.9 billion, and presumably some of the proceeds from those sales allowed the loan balance to be significantly reduced. Securities lending activity fell by over $10 billion, from $20.7 billion to $10.1 billion, only to rebound the following week. The Treasury General Account remained elevated this week—up over $115 billion—swollen with post-tax day funds. The account has now cleared last year’s tax season peak by $40 billion.
  • 05.06.2011
  • Consumer Credit
  • Consumer credit continued to increase in March, improving 0.25 percent on a seasonally-adjusted basis. On a year-over-year basis, consumer credit turned positive for the first time since February 2009, increasing 0.04 percent in March. The growth in consumer credit was driven by improvements in both revolving and non-revolving account balances. For the month of March, revolving credit balances rose 0.24 percent but remain down 5.24 percent since March 2010. The increase in revolving balances may be attributed to higher gas prices as consumers are likely to pay for gasoline purchases with a credit card. Non-revolving accounts grew for the sixth consecutive month, increasing 0.25 percent and are up 2.84 percent since March 2010. Questions remain as to how long growth in non-revolving credit will continue since the growth in non-revolving accounts has been driven primarily by strong new vehicle sales, which have shown some signs of leveling-off in the past couple of months.
  • 05.03.2011
  • Factory Orders
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased 3.0 percent (nonannualized) in March, following an upwardly revised 0.7 percent gain in February. Year-over-year new order growth rose 11.5 percent compared to 10.2 percent in February. Excluding transportation, new orders jumped 2.6 percent in March and are up 9.8 percent over the past year. Nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders rose 4.1 percent. Durable and nondurable goods orders increased 2.9 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively. Shipments of manufactured goods increased 2.7 percent in March, following a 0.6 percent increase in February. Inventories continued to pile up, increasing 1.1 percent, and are up 10.3 percent over the past year.
  • 05.02.2011
  • ISM Manufacturing
  • The ISM?’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) edged down slightly in April (slipping from an index value of 61.2 to 60.4) though stayed well above the diffusion index’s threshold for manufacturing sector growth of 50. Four out of the five components of the PMI decreases in April, led by declines in the production index (down 5.2 points to 63.8) and the supplier deliveries index (down 4.6 points to 60.2). Partially offsetting declines in other components, the inventories index rose from 47.4 in March to 53.6 in April (its highest level since November 2010). Also, the prices index, which is not seasonally adjusted and does not factor into the overall PMI, continued its recent climb, ticking up 0.5 point to 85.5 in April, though is still somewhat below its recent peak of 91.5 in June 2008.
  • 05.02.2011
  • Construction Spending
  • Total private construction spending increased 2.2 percent in March and now stands at $476.1 billion (SAAR). Both residential and nonresidential spending contributed to the increase. Residential spending increased 2.6 percent, continuing it’s bumpy path of monthly ups and downs. Note that all of the increase in residential spending came via home improvements and renovations (up 6.9 percent over the month), as spending on new single family and new multi-family homes both decreased over the month. Nonresidential construction added another positive month (+ 1.8 percent) to what has been a similarly erratic path of alternating monthly gains and losses. Most major nonresidential sectors were positive over the month with the exception of commercial (down 0.5 percent), amusement and recreation (down 1.0 percent), transportation (down 6.3 percent), and communication (down 2.7 percent). Residential and nonresidential construction spending levels are well below their March 2010 values.