Data Updates

Data Updates

September 2010

  • 09.30.2010
  • GDP
  • Real GDP was revised up 0.1 percentage point to an annualized growth rate of 1.7 percent in the second quarter, according to the third estimate. However, second quarter growth is still 0.7 percentage point below the initial reading. The slight uptick relative to the second estimate was primarily the result of upward revisions to consumption and private inventories that were offset by an upward adjustment to imports and a downward revision to government spending. Real personal consumption expenditures were revised up from 2.0 percent to 2.2 percent according to the third estimate, well above the initial estimate of 1.6 percent. Personal consumption is now trending at a 4-quarter growth rate of 1.7 percent. Private inventories grew by a little more than the second estimate suggested in the second quarter, contributing an additional 0.2 percentage points to growth. Elsewhere, government spending was revised down from 4.3 percent to 3.9 percent in the second quarter. Also, imports were revised up from 32.4 percent to 33.5 percent, now its strongest quarterly gain since 1984:Q1.
  • 09.28.2010
  • Housing Price Indexes
  • Home price growth was absent in July, from the standpoints of both the S&P/Case-Shiller and the FHFA home price reports. As expected in an early after-month of the home buyer tax credit, S&P/Case-Shiller home prices ground to a halt in July after a full year of growth in the 10-city index, while prices in the 20-city index dipped a slight 0.1 percent. Year-over-year growth in both indexes cooled off roughly a percentage point over the month. Prices in the 10-city index are now up 4.1 percent since last July, and prices for the 20-city index are up just 3.2 percent.

    The FHFA Purchase-Only House Price Index declined for a second straight month, dropping 0.5 percent in July following a 1.2 percent retreat in June. Year-ago price growth slipped accordingly, from −2.5 percent to −3.2 percent. After the FHFA index reached a peak value in April 2007, prices fell rapidly until November 2008. Since then the index has fluctuated considerably, overall trending slightly downward. In the big picture, the index has been set back to its level in September/October 2004, when home prices were still rising rapidly.

  • 09.24.2010
  • Durable Goods
  • New orders for durable goods, now down three of the past four months, slipped down 1.3 percent in August, following an upwardly revised 0.7 percent gain. However, much of the overall weakness over the last four months has been tied to aircraft orders. Excluding transportation, orders rose 2.0 percent in August and are still trending at an annualized rate of 9.7 percent over the past six months. Importantly, new orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft jumped up 4.1 percent during the month, almost reversing a 5.3 percent drop in July (that has been revised up from a roughly 8.0 drop according to the initial reading, and is beginning to look a lot like measurement error or seasonal noise). Over the past 6 months, new orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft are up a whopping 23.1 percent (annualized rate), somewhat above its longer-term 12-month growth rate of 19.0 percent. Shipments of durables fell 1.6 percent in August, though were flat after excluding transportation equipment. Inventories continued to rise in August, up 0.4 percent, but at a slower rate than over the past three months (1.0 percent).
  • 09.24.2010
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family home sales held steady in August after falling 7.7 percent in July. The current annual sales pace of 288,000 units sits essentially level with May’s pace of 282,000, a record low for the 47-year-old series. The year-over-year growth rate in sales remains heavily in the red at −28.9 percent, although the series experienced a brief positive stint in the spring wrap-up months of the housing stimulus. The inventory of new homes for sale declined a slight 1.4 percent in August, causing a miniscule descent in months’ supply, from 8.7 to 8.6. Months’ supply had made much progress between January 2009 and April 2010, dropping from 12.1 months down to just 6.3. However, the series has since swollen again due to lack of sales, as opposed to a ballooning inventory. The number of new homes for sale in August was 206,000 units, the lowest level since 1968.
  • 09.24.2010
  • The Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
  • Another big chunk of the first Maiden Lane transaction got repaid this week, dropping the outstanding balance of the loan from $28.3 billion to $27.6 billion. Maiden Lane I only recently went into repayment following a two-year grace period after the loan was made. The European Central Bank (ECB) drew $60 million of swaps through the central bank liquidity swap program each of the past two weeks. This marks the fourth and fifth consecutive weeks that the ECB has drawn 7-day swaps. Agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities continue to decline at a steady pace, having dropped by about $30 billion since the August meeting and over $10 billion in the last week alone. The Fed’s portfolio of Treasury securities has risen by $30 billion as well. For the first time since October 2009, the total amount of excess reserves on the Fed’s balance sheet has dropped below $1 trillion. Also, the Treasury’s general account at the Fed spiked this week, with the approach of the end of the third quarter, jumping from $22 billion to $77 billion. This rise in the general account, which typically collects the outflows of deposits from depository institutions, may help to explain the drop in excess reserves.
  • 09.23.2010
  • Existing Home Sales
  • In line with expectations, existing single-family home sales rose 7.4 percent in August on the heels of three progressively larger declines, spanning May to July. August’s increase, while a welcome turnaround, stands small next to the magnitude of July’s 27.4 percent nosedive. The annual sales pace rose from 3.37 million units in July to 3.62 million in August, still 19.2 percent below the pace in August 2009 and not far off a fifteen-year low. National Association of Realtors chief economist, Lawrence Yun, describes the current housing market as subpar, as it is struggles to recover without the support of the home buyer tax credit. “Despite very attractive affordability conditions,” he adds, “a housing market recovery will likely be slow and gradual because of lingering economic uncertainty.” Inventory of existing single-family homes for sale crept up by 1.5 percent in August, yet months’ supply of homes on the market managed to relax slightly, from 11.9 months to 11.3, due to the pickup in sales. This small drop in months’ supply is hardly cause for celebration, though, because an 11.3-month backlog is still higher than any other month since June 1985. The median price for existing single-family homes sagged 2.0 percent during the month of August but appears to have begun stabilizing, as prices are up 1.2 percent over the past year.
  • 09.21.2010
  • Housing Starts
  • Single-family housing starts broke their three-month losing streak in August, posting a 4.3 percent rise. Revisions lowered June and July’s previous estimates, however, leaving their respective declines at 2.0 percent and 6.7 percent. At 438,000 annual units, the current pace of starts still sits well below April’s recent high of 563,000, although year-over-year growth improved from −16.0 percent to −9.1 percent. August’s boost in starts held true for all regions of the U.S. except for the Northeast, where starts dropped a fairly steep 28.0 percent. Permits for single-family starts, on the other hand, retreated 1.2 percent during the month and year-over-year growth dipped further to −16.8 percent. Next month’s release will bring not only preliminary estimates for September starts and permits, but also the Census’ revisions to July and August figures.
  • 09.17.2010
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment ticked down from an index value of 68.9 in August to 66.6 in September, on a 3.8 point drop in the consumer expectations component down to 59.1. Expectations have retreated from roughly 70 in June to its lowest level since March 2009. Interestingly, the release noted that the “entire decline” came from households with incomes above $75,000. One year-ahead average inflation expectations were edged down 0.1 percentage point to 3.1 percent in September, though the median expectation fell from 2.7 percent to 2.2 percent (with the variance increasing from 18 to 21). Longer-term (5-10 year-ahead) average expectations remained relatively well anchored during the month, increasing just 0.1 percentage point to 3.2 percent, but the median expectation was unchanged at 2.8 percent.
  • 09.17.2010
  • CPI
  • The CPI rose at an annualized rate of 3.1 percent in August, largely on an energy price spike (up 31.2 percent). Excluding food and energy prices (core CPI), the index was virtually unchanged in August, rising just 0.6 percent. Over the past three months, the core CPI is up 1.3 percent, which is a little higher than its 12-month growth rate of 0.9 percent. Measures of underlying inflation produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, the median and 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI, rose 0.6 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively in August, roughly in line with their 3-to-12 month growth rates. While there were some unusual price movements this month (car and truck rental prices, infant and toddler apparel, among others), they occurred at both ends of the price change distribution. That distribution has tightened up over the past three months relative to the first five months of the year, as roughly 48 percent of the overall index has exhibited price changes in the tails of the distribution (rising at rates over 5 percent, or posting outright price decreases) from June to August, compared to an average of 62 percent from January through May. Importantly, the average weight in that lower tail (outright price declines) has shifted from near 50 percent over the first five months of the year to roughly 33 percent over the past three months.
  • 09.16.2010
  • PPI
  • The Producer Price Index (PPI) for finished goods exceeded forecasts in August and grew an annualized 4.8 percent, the largest advance since March. Headline growth was led by energy prices, which rose a healthy 29.7 percent in their first increase in five months. Meanwhile, the core index slowed in August. The core PPI, which omits food and energy prices for a more stable measure of price behavior, was up a very modest 0.7 percent after climbing 4.2 percent in July. Consequently, year-over-year change in the core eased 0.2 percentage point to 1.3 percent. However, this is still consistent with the series?’ pattern of a slow, steady up-trend since October 2009’s trough of 0.7 percent. Upstream, both core intermediate and core crude goods’ prices reversed course in August, with core intermediate prices inching up 0.7 percent after two months of decline and core crude goods jumping 61.1 percent following three straight drops.
  • 09.15.2010
  • Import and Export Prices
  • Import prices jumped up at an annualized rate of 6.9 percent in August, following a slight 1.0 percent gain in July. The spike was, in large part, due to a 28 percent climb in petroleum import prices. Nonpetroleum imports rose 2.2 percent during the month, reversing a 2.1 percent decline in July. Over the past 12 months, nonpetroleum import prices have risen 3.1 percent, edging off of recent highs as the series has been falling at an annualized pace of 1.8 percent over the past three months.

    Export prices jumped up 10.3 percent (annualized rate) in August, roughly netting out declines of 2.0 percent and 8.4 percent in July and June, respectively. On a year-over-year basis, export prices are up 4.1 percent. Volatile agricultural prices spiked during the month, rising 63.5 percent and causing much of the headline increase in export prices. Still, nonagricultural export prices rose 6.2 percent in August, following two consecutive decreases.

  • 09.15.2010
  • Industrial Production
  • Industrial production increased at an annualized rate of 1.9 percent in August after a downwardly revised 7.8 percent gain in July (revised down from a 12.3 percent increase). Manufacturing output rose modestly during the month, up 2.6 percent compared to an 8.9 percent gain in July. The short-term (3-month annualized) growth rate in manufacturing production edged down to 2.3 percent in August, it’s slowest growth rate since last June and tentative evidence that the inventory cycle is abating. Outside manufacturing, mining output jumped up 15.6 percent in August, following an 11.4 percent increase in July. Also, utilities output fell 17.1 percent during the month, though is still up 6.0 percent over the past year. Capacity utilization edged up slightly, rising from 74.6 percent to 74.7 percent in August.
  • 09.14.2010
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales rose 0.4 percent (nonannualized) in August, after a downwardly revised 0.3 percent gain in July. Auto sales, which bolstered headline gains in July, slipped down 0.7 percent in August, resulting in a 0.6 percent gain in retail sales excluding autos. Increases were seen across most major categories of retail sales during the month, except for losses at furniture stores, electronic and appliance stores, and miscellaneous store retailers. A less-noisy measure of the trend in retail sales—sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations—revealed a modest gain, rising 0.6 percent in August. The series is rising at an annualized rate of 3.5 percent over the last three months, just below its 12 month growth rate of 4.1 percent.
  • 09.10.2010
  • Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
  • There are a few things to catch up on with the balance sheet this week, but all of them should be fairly familiar by now. Maiden Lane II and Maiden Lane III each made scheduled payments on their loans from the New York Fed this week, dropping the outstanding balances by $200 million and $500 million, respectively. Also, after drawing $35 million in 7-day swaps two weeks ago, the ECB took an $40 million and $60 million in 7-day swaps last week and this week. The terms of the most recent operations were similar to the first, drawing at a rate of close to 1.2 percent. These extra draws may be precautionary following the continued widen in European CDS spreads. Spreads on Greek, Irish and Spanish debt are now atop or near crisis peaks. The Fed’s portfolio of Treasury securities has continued to grow these past couple of weeks, now up to $337 billion. Over the past two weeks, $6.6 billion in securities were purchased, and details of the Treasury operations can be found on the New York Fed website. Possibly of note as well, it appears excess reserves have finally leveled off. They have teetered near $1 trillion for almost all of 2010, a drastic difference from movements seen since September 2008.
  • 09.09.2010
  • International Trade
  • The nominal trade deficit narrowed sharply in July, reversing much of June’s record increase. The $7.0 billion narrowing (from $49.8 billion to $42.8 billion) resulted from a 2.1 percent drop in imports and a 1.8 percent rise in exports to $153.3 billion, the highest level in nearly two years. The drop in imports was broad based but led by consumer goods and autos. The boost in exports, meanwhile, was driven by capital goods excluding autos (particularly a $1.4 billion advance in civilian aircraft) as well as industrial supplies. Exports are up 18.3 percent year-over-year, while imports are up 20.5 percent. While the trade deficit improved a great deal in July, it is still higher in than any month since October 2008, with the exception of June.
  • 09.08.2010
  • Fourth District Employment Conditions
  • The Fourth District’s unemployment rate remained at 9.6 percent for the month of July. The distribution of unemployment rates among Fourth District counties ranges from 7.4 percent (Delaware County, Ohio) to 18.4 percent (Magoffin County, Kentucky), with the median county unemployment rate at 10.8 percent. County-level patterns are reflected in statewide unemployment rates as Ohio and Kentucky have unemployment rates of 10.3 percent and 9.9 percent, respectively, compared to Pennsylvania’s 9.3 percent and West Virginia’s 8.6 percent.
  • 09.02.2010
  • Factory Orders
  • New orders for manufactured goods inched up 0.1 percent in July, following decreases of 0.6 percent in June and 1.8 percent in May. Importantly, new orders of nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft plummeted 7.2 percent in July (which is actually an upward revision of 0.8 percentage point from the advance report on durable goods), pushing the 12-month growth rate down from 19.5 percent to 11.6 percent. Shipments of factory goods jumped up 1.1 percent, though after a somewhat dour second quarter the series has fallen at an annualized percent change of 4.7 percent over the past three months. Manufacturers added 1.0 percent to inventories in July, pulling the 12-month growth rate up to 2.5 percent (the strongest growth rate since November 2008).
  • 09.01.2010
  • ISM Purchasing Managers Index
  • The ISM’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) unexpectedly ticked up from 55.5 in July to 56.3 in August, interrupting a string of three months in which the rate of manufacturing growth slowed relative to April’s recent peak of 60.4. The overall increase was largely due to increases in the production index (up from 57.0 to 59.9 in August), and the employment index, which jumped up from 58.6 to 60.4 in August—its highest level since November 1978 (which may portend well for the manufacturing sector in Friday’s employment report). Elsewhere, inventories rose modestly during the month, though both new orders and supplier deliveries edged lower in August.
  • 09.01.2010
  • Construction Spending
  • Total construction spending slipped for the third month in a row, dropping 1.0 percent in July to the lowest annualized rate of spending since July 2000. The 0.1 percent gain initially reported for June was revised downward to a 0.8 percent decline. Year-over-year growth in total spending currently sits at a depressed −10.7 percent. Both private and public construction spending shared blame for July’s retreat, the former dropping 0.8 percent over the month and the latter falling 1.2 percent. The decline in private outlays was entirely attributable to a 2.6 percent pull-back on the residential side, as private nonresidential construction broke its fifteen-month streak of decline, rising 0.8 percent. The decline in public construction was caused by a 1.3 percent drop on the nonresidential side.