Data Updates

Data Updates

May 2012

  • 05.31.2012
  • GDP
  • Real GDP was revised down in the first quarter from an annualized growth rate of 2.2 percent to 1.9 percent, according to the Burea of Economic Analysis’s second estimate. The downward revision was primarily the result of downward revisions to private inventories, along with relatively minor downgrades to net exports, state and local government spending, and consumption. These downward revisions were partially offset by a fairly sizeable upward revision to nonresidential fixed investment. Nonresidential fixed investment was revised up from a decrease of 2.1 percent to a 1.9 percent increase in the first quarter, and is now adding 0.2 percentage points (pp) to real GDP growth in the first quarter, as opposed a 0.2 pp subtraction in the previous estimate. Both structures and equipment and software were revised up in the second estimate. The upward adjustment to structures was the more substantial of the two (though not quite enough to turn the growth rate positive), as structures were revised up from a 12.0 percent decline to just a 3.3 percent decline in the first quarter.

    Private inventories suffered the largest knockdown during the revision, lessening its contribution to quarter one output growth by 0.4 pp to 0.2 pp. Both exports and imports were nudged up during the revision, but their net combined contribution to output growth fell by a little less than 0.1 pp. Downward revisions to other categories were relatively minor. While headline GDP growth was knocked down by 0.3 pp in the first quarter, because most of that downward revision was due to inventories, final sales was only nudged down by 0.1 pp to 1.6 percent, and its four-quarter growth rate was unchanged at 1.9 percent.

    Finally, this release contained our first look at the first quarter’ real Gross Domestic Income (GDI), which rose 2.7 percent, roughly in line with its readings over the previous two quarters of 2.6 percent. While this measure points to a little more near-term strength in the growth trajectory, over the past year the growth rate of both real GDI and real GDP stands at 2.0 percent.

  • 05.29.2012
  • House Price Indexes
  • The S&P Case-Shiller Quarterly National Composite Index rose 1.14 percent in the first quarter of 2012 but has fallen 1.86 percent over the past four quarters. On a monthly basis, both the 10-city and 20-city composites rose 0.1 percent from February to March. The 10-city and 20-city composites continue to post negative annual growth rates and are down 2.6 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively. While there has been an improvement in certain regions, housing prices have not completely turned the corner, and we are now back to mid-2002 levels.

    The FHFA monthly housing price index rose 1.8 percent in March and 2.7 percent over the past 12 months to an indexed level of 185.6. Regionally, all areas experienced modest growth on both a monthly and an annual basis. The overall rise in monthly housing prices has helped to boost the quarterly index, which rose 0.6 percent during the first quarter of 2012 and 0.5 percent over the past four quarters. This represents the first annual increase in the quarterly index since the second quarter of 2007.

  • 05.25.2012
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment rose to an index level of 79.3, up from May’s preliminary reading of 77.8. Although May marks the highest index level since October 2007, the index still trails its 88.9 average during the previous expansion (November 2001–December 2007). The 1.5 gain in the index was largely driven by households with incomes over $75,000 (up 5.5 points) who expect to see larger increases in their incomes in the year ahead. Lower income households were less optimistic, posting modest gains of 0.8. The expectations component increased from 71.7 to 74.3, also contributing to May’s improvement. The current conditions component retreated slightly from 87.3 to 87.2 after jumping 4.4 index points from April to May. Median short-run (one-year ahead) inflation expectations were adjusted down from 3.1 percent to 3.0 while the longer-term (five-to-years ahead) inflation expectations dropped from 3.0 to 2.7 percent, returning to levels seen during the fourth quarter of 2011.
  • 05.24.2012
  • Durable Goods
  • New orders for durable goods edged up 0.1 percent in April, following an upwardly revised (but still sizeable) decline of 3.7 percent in March. On a year-over-year basis, new orders are up 6.9 percent. New orders for transportation equipment rose 2.1 percent during the month, bolstering the headline estimate—which would have fallen 0.6 percent without including the category. That said, a sizeable decline in new orders for defense goods (down 19.6 percent) accounted for some of the overall weakness in April. Importantly, new orders of nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft followed up a 2.2 percent decline in March by decreasing 1.9 percent in April. The series has posted declines in four of the past six months, and is up just 2.6 percent on a year-over-year basis (its slowest growth rate since December 2009). Shipments of durables increased 0.7 percent in April, following a 1.0 percent gain in March, and are up 8.9 percent over the past year. However, after excluding transportation equipment, shipments actually fell 0.3 percent in April and are growing at an annualized trend of just 2.4 percent over the past three months. Manufacturers’ inventories continue to swell, but at a slower pace. Inventories increased 0.3 percent in April and its 12-month growth rate sits at 6.8 percent, down markedly from a recent cyclical high of 12.9 percent last August.
  • 05.23.2012
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family home sales rose 3.3 percent in April and 9.9 percent over the past 12 months to an annualized rate of 343,000 units sold. The median sales price of new homes rose 4.9 percent to $235,700 compared to April 2011. On an annual basis, the number of new homes for sale and monthly supply of new homes at the current sales pace fell 16.6 and 23.9 percent, respectively. Regional monthly new homes sales ranged from a 28.2 percent increase in the Midwest to a 10.6 percent decline in the South.
  • 05.22.2012
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales rose 3.0 percent in April and are up 9.9 percent over the past 12 months to 4.09 million units sold. The median sales price of existing single-family homes climbed 7.8 percent in April to $178,000—representing the largest monthly gain in the history of this dataset. The monthly supply and inventory of available homes for sale continues to fall sharply on an annual basis, down 25.8 percent and 18.8 percent respectively. A diminishing share of foreclosed property sales and an acute inventory shortage is helping to increase home values in certain markets.
  • 05.16.2012
  • Industrial Production
  • Industrial production increased 1.0 percent (nonannualized) in April. On a year-over-year basis, overall production is up 5.2 percent with a near-term trend (three-month annualized growth) of 3.8 percent growth. Manufacturing production increased 0.5 percent after having fallen 0.4 percent in March. Breaking down the manufacturing sector, durable goods production rose 1.3 percent while nondurable goods manufacturing fell 0.2 percent in April. Within durable goods manufacturing, all major categories increased except wood products, with motor vehicles and parts production and furniture and related products leading the way growing 4.0 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively. Mining output jumped 1.6 percent, after having declined the previous two months. Overall capacity utilization increased 0.8 percentage points to 79.2 percent of capacity in April, still 1.4 percentage points below its December 2007 reading.
  • 05.16.2012
  • Housing Starts and Permits
  • Single-family housing starts rose 2.3 percent in April and are up 18.8 percent over the past 12 months to an annualized rate of 492,000. Regional monthly changes ranged from a 4 percent increase in the South to a 3.1 percent decline in the West. Single-family building permits, which tend to be less volatile, rose 1.9 percent in April and are up 18.4 percent on a year-over-year basis.
  • 05.15.2012
  • Retail Sales
  • Retail sales posted a slight 0.1 percent gain in April, following a strong performance over the first three months of the year (averaging a 0.8 percent increase). On a year-over-year basis, retail sales are still up 6.4 percent, which is nearly double its 10-year annualized growth rate of 3.5 percent. Along with the preliminary monthly estimates, the Census Bureau included the results of its annual revision, which led to a knockdown in the March 2012 level of retail sales of roughly 0.9 percent. This revision suggests that the level of consumption in the upcoming July NIPA revision will get shaded downward. Turning back to the recent data, sales performance across broad industries in April was largely positive. Sales at nonstore retailers led the gainers, rising 1.1 percent in April. Robust sales were also reported at miscellaneous store retailers (up 0.8 percent) and at sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores (up 0.7 percent). On the downside, sales at building material and supplies dealers slipped down 1.8 percent, though that was on the heels of a 2.7 percent gain in March. Also, sales at gasoline stations dipped 0.3 percent, but that was likely price-related. “Core” retail sales—a cleaner measure of consumer spending trajectory—which excludes autos, building supplies, and gas stations rose 0.4 percent in April, following a 0.5 percent increase in March. Over the last 3 months, core retail sales have risen at an annualized rate of 6.2 percent, in line with its longer-run (12 month) growth rate of 5.6 percent.
  • 05.15.2012
  • CPI
  • The headline CPI was flat in April, as gasoline prices fell at an annualized rate of 27 percent following three consecutive increases. The price index for foods rose a modest 2.6 percent clip in April, below its 12-month growth rate of 3.1 percent . On a year-over-year basis, the headline CPI is up 2.3 percent through April, a trend that has fallen precipitously since a recent high of 3.9 percent last September. Excluding food and energy prices, the (“core”) CPI rose 2.9 percent in April, and is up 2.3 percent over the past 12 months. Interestingly, this is the first month since October 2009 that the longer-term (12 month) trend in the headline CPI has been at or below the trend in the core CPI. Our measures of underlying inflation came in a little softer than the core CPI in April; with the median CPI rising 2.3 percent and the 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI up 1.9 percent during the month. Relative to their respective 12-month trends (which are 2.4 percent for the median and 2.3 percent for the trim), the recent trajectory has been roughly flat.
  • 05.11.2012
  • Producer Price Index
  • The Producer Price Index (PPI) for finished goods decreased at an annualized rate of 2.4 percent in April, following a flat reading in March. Falling energy prices (down 15.4 percent) were a large part of the headline dip. Prices for finished consumer foods rose 2.5 percent, and excluding food and energy, the PPI rose 2.0 percent in April. On a year-over-year basis, the headline PPI is up 1.9 percent, which is below its longer-term (20-year) growth rate of 2.3 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” PPI is up 2.7 percent over the past year, and is up 2.5 percent over the past three months. Further back on the production line, pricing pressure was mixed, as core intermediate goods prices rose a modest 2.5 percent, and volatile core crude goods prices fell 19.5 percent in April after a 14 percent increase in March.
  • 05.11.2012
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment edged up in early May, rising from an index value of 76.4 in April to 77.8. As a result, overall sentiment is at its highest level since January 2008, but still remains well below its average over the previous expansion (November 2001 to December 2007) of 88.9. All of May’s improvement in overall sentiment was driven by respondents’ collective judgment of current conditions—which pushed that index up from 82.9 to 87.3. The consumer expectations component actually retreated a little in May, slipping from 72.3 in April to 71.7. Median short-run (one-year ahead) inflation expectations ticked down from 3.2 percent in April to 3.1 percent in May, holding just 0.1 percentage point above longer-term (five-to-ten years ahead) inflation expectations (which were nudged up from 2.9 percent to 3.0 percent in May).
  • 05.10.2012
  • International Trade
  • In March, the U.S. trade deficit expanded by $6.4 billion to −$51.8 billion, up from February’s downwardly revised −$45.4 billion deficit (−$46.0, previously). After narrowing last month by $7.1 billion, March’s deficit reversed course and came in wider than consensus forecasts (−$50.0 billion) to mark the largest expansion since May of last year. The widening was driven by an all-time record $11.7 billion jump in imports to a level of $238.6 billion as they recovered from last month’s $6.3 billion decline. Like imports, exports demonstrated strength, increasing by $5.3 billion to a record high of $186.8 billion. With imports growing faster than exports in March, the positive contribution of trade to first quarter GDP may be more muted in the second estimate as March’s numbers will likely counteract February’s. On a year-over-year basis, imports posted gains of 8.4 percent, up from February’s 7.5 percent, but down from the double digit pace seen throughout 2011 and 2010. Exports rose 7.3 percent, decelerating from February’s 9.5 percent yearly gain.
  • 05.10.2012
  • Import and Export Prices
  • U.S. import prices fell 0.5 percent in April, marking the first monthly decrease since October 2011. April’s decline was below consensus forecasts which had predicted a more modest 0.1 percent decrease. Petroleum prices fell 1.8 percent, driving the monthly decline of the overall index, while nonpetroleum import prices remained unchanged from March to April. On a year-over-year basis, import prices were up 0.5, decelerating from the 5.25 percent average yearly growth seen throughout the first quarter of 2012. Making 1.3 percent yearly growth in April, nonfuel import prices also weakened compared to their first quarter average of 2.5 percent. Petroleum prices fell by 1.7 percent on a year-over-year basis, posting the first decline since 2009. The slowdown in year-over-year growth rates indicate low price pressure stemming from abroad.

    Export prices ticked up 0.4 percent in April, after increasing 0.8 percent in March. Gains in both nonagricultural export prices (0.2 percent) and agricultural export prices (2.0 percent) contributed to April’s gain. April’s modest 0.7 percent year-over-year advance was the smallest yearly gain since October 2009.

  • 05.07.2012
  • Consumer Credit
  • Total consumer credit continued to improve in March, increasing 0.8 percent to $2,542.3 billion. Compared to March 2011, total consumer credit outstanding is up 5.0 percent, the largest year-over-year increase since June 2008. March’s performance can be attributed to improvements in both revolving and nonrevolving consumer credit. Revolving credit rose for the first time two months, improving 0.6 percent and is up 1.4 percent compared to March of 2011. Nonrevolving credit improved for the seventh consecutive month, increasing 0.9 percent. On a year-over-year basis, nonrevolving credit is up 6.8 percent.
  • 05.04.2012
  • Employment Situation
  • Nonfarm payrolls rose just 115,000 in April, about 50,000 lower than private forecasters were expecting. However, both February’s and March’s estimates were revised up, adding 53,000 in sum and providing a rough offset for April’s undershoot. Still, even after factoring in the upward revisions, nonfarm payrolls have averaged a monthly gain of 176,000 over the past 3 months, modestly decelerating from its pace of 218,000 over the previous 3-month span (November to January). Private payrolls appear to be following that trend as well, averaging 183,000 over the past 3 months, compared to a average gain of 230,000 over the 3 months prior. Despite the recent deceleration, the near-term trend in nonfarm payrolls is holding above its average gain over the past 12 months of 151,000 (169,000 for private payrolls). Goods-producing payrolls rose 14,000 in April, following a gain of 38,000 in March. Manufacturing employment (up 16,000) accounted for all of that increase, as mining and logging payrolls were flat and construction payrolls slipped down 2,000. After relatively strong gains in December and January (up 44,000 in total), construction employment has fallen by 6,000. If you were looking to tell a “mild-winter” story (that pulled forward some projects), this might be tentative evidence.

    On the service side, professional and business services employment rose 62,000 in April (temporary help employment accounted for a third of the gain), in line with its near-term (3-month) average of 63,000. Retail trade payrolls increased by 29,000 in April, though this comes after declines of 21,000 in March and 15,000 in February. While auto sales and production have been a recent source of (relative) strength, employment in this sector has averaged just 2,400 over the past 3 months, compared to an average monthly gain near 4,000 over the year prior. Elsewhere on the service side, health and education payrolls rose 23,000 in April, slightly off its near-term average gain of 46,000. And leisure and hospitality payrolls rose 12,000 during the month, compared to an average gain of 26,000 over the past year.

    On the household side, the unemployment rate ticked down a tenth to 8.1 percent, but not for “good” reasons. The number of employed persons (as measured by this survey) fell 169,000 in April, its sharpest decline since last June, and after factoring in a 31,000 decline in March, has started to undo some of its first quarter strength relative to nonfarm payrolls. While the number of unemployment persons fell as well in April (down 173,000), the civilian labor force shrank by 342,000 (its sharpest decline since January 2011). The labor force participation rate fell 0.2 percentage points to 63.6 percent in April, down 2.4 percentage points from the end of 2007.

  • 05.03.2012
  • Productivity and Costs
  • Nonfarm business sector productivity—real output per hour of all persons—declined at an annualized rate of 0.5 percent in the first quarter of 2012, meeting expectations. After the fourth quarter’s upwardly revised 1.2 percent growth, productivity is up 0.5 percent over the past four quarters. The quarterly decline came as growth in hours worked outpaced the growth in output. Hours worked grew by 3.2 percent, its highest reading in nearly two years and a full percentage point above its year-over-year growth rate. Output grew 2.7 percent in the first quarter. Hourly compensation cooled from the second half of 2011, growing 1.5 percent. After adjusting for price changes, real hourly compensation declined 0.9 percent. The initial estimate for first-quarter unit labor costs was 2.0 percent, keeping pace with the four-quarter growth rate of 2.1 percent.
  • 05.03.2012
  • Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
  • During April, the values of the Maiden Lane I and Maiden Lane III portfolios were revalued. Following the revaluations, Maiden Lane I was up about $120 million and Maiden Lane III was up $2.3 billion. It was also revealed in April that the holdings of the MAX CDO in the Maiden Lane III portfolio were sold to Barclays and Deutsche Bank through a competitive bid process. Bids for the MAX CDO holdings were submitted by eight broker-dealers. Outstanding balances for the central bank dollar liquidity swap lines continued their decline, falling from about $46 billion to $27 billion. The Treasury General Account experienced a tax season spike, climbing from $55 billion to $120 billion, and foreign official and international account reverse repos jumped nearly $10 billion to $98 billion. Eight banks were added to the Fed’s reverse repo counterparty list during the week as well, including Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Canada and Societe Generale.
  • 05.02.2012
  • Factory Orders
  • New orders for manufactured goods decreased 1.5 percent (nonannualized) in March, following an increase of 1.1 percent in February. This month’s decrease pulled the near term trend (three month annualized growth rate) sharply negative to −5.8 percent down from 14.7 percent in December. Year over year growth rates slowed considerably as well down to 3.3 percent from a 12.1 percent reading in December. Excluding transportation new orders were flat for the month. Durable goods orders series decreased 4.0 percent for the month pulling down the three month annualized growth rate to −20.4 percent, the lowest reading since March 2009. Nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders, considered a leading indicator of business investment spending, fell 0.1 percent for the month while its 3-month annualized growth rate, −3.3 percent, continues to fluctuate from positive to negative readings as it has since the fall. Shipments of manufactured goods grew 0.7 percent for the month, while its 3-month annualized growth rate remains steady just below 6 percent. Unfilled orders were little changed in March increasing 0.1 percent. Over the past three months unfilled orders have increased 8.2 percent, down from 15.1 in January. The unfilled orders-to-shipments ratio now rests at 6.17. Inventories also continue to accumulate, 0.3 percent, however the inventory/sales ratio has remained stable at 1.33.
  • 05.01.2012
  • Construction Spending
  • After upward revisions to both January and February, private construction increased in March to $531.9 billion. Both nonresidential and residential spending inched up by 0.7 percent over the month. Private construction has grown by 10.3 percent over the year, nonresidential construction leading the growth at 13.1 percent, and residential following at 6.9 percent. Power and utility along with manufacturing pushed the nonresidential construction increases over March. The year-long increases are attributed to commercial and healthcare structures growing at 9.5 percent and 7 percent, respectively. New single-family home construction showed growth of 3.8 percent, outweighing the decrease of 3.1 percent in new multi-family homes for the month, and supporting the $1.65 billion increase in residential construction.
  • 05.01.2012
  • ISM Manufacturing
  • The ISM’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) increased from 53.4 in March to 54.8 in April. This report was stronger than consensus expectations, and the index is now at a level last seen in June 2011. All but one component of the index increased during the month. Inventories contracted in April, falling from 50.0 to 48.5, and they have yet to expand this year. The increase was led by new orders and production. New orders added 3.7 points, climbing to 58.2 and reaching its highest point since April 2011. The production index grew to 61.0, an improvement of 2.7 points and its highest level since last March. Smaller gains were recorded in the employment index (up 1.2 points) and supplier deliveries index (up 1.2 points). The prices index (which is not seasonally adjusted and does not enter into the overall PMI) recorded no change in April, maintaining gains from earlier in the year.