Data Updates

Data Updates

September 2012

  • 09.28.2012
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment was revised slightly lower in late September—from an index level of 79.2 to 78.3—but still jumped up four points relative to August’s level. The downward revision in overall sentiment in September was due to a downward adjustment to the current conditions component—from 88.3. to 85.7. Respondent’s judgment of current conditions slipped 3.0 index points relative to August’s level, but are still up roughly ten points from last September. Consumer expectations were relatively unchanged during the September revision, and rose from 65.1 in August to 73.5 in September (though the release noted that the dramatic spike in expectations likely reflected optimism flowing from the recent conventions, which is likely to be temporary). Median short-run (one-year ahead) inflation expectations were revised down from 3.5 percent to 3.3 percent in September, slipping 0.3 percentage points from August’s level. Longer-term (five-to-ten years ahead) inflation expectations remained at 2.8 percent during the revision, down 0.2 percentage points from August.
  • 09.28.2012
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.1 percent in August, following improvements of 0.3 and 0.1 in June and July, respectively. Over the last 12 months, nominal income has increased 3.5 percent. Disposable personal income—personal income less current taxes—also grew 0.1 percent in August, following increases of 0.3 and 0.1 in the prior two months, and is up 3.3 percent since August of 2011. However, there was a bit of price influence on the headline number, as “real” disposable personal income (DPI after controlling for prices changes) fell for the first time since November of last year, dropping 0.3 percent. Growth in “real” DPI has slowed gradually since the beginning of the year, as the current 3-month trend is now flat compared with an average growth rate of 0.4 percent throughout the first quarter and 0.2 percent during the second. However, despite the slowing of growth in month-to-month changes, due to a similar slowing pattern during the second half of last year, the year-over-year changes in “real” DPI have improved in recent months, reaching 1.8 percent in August following a similar reading of 1.8 percent in July. The current short-term (3-month) trend in year-over-year changes improved to 1.7 percent from 1.6 percent in the prior month and 1.3 percent during the second quarter. After a strong gain of 0.4 percent in July, “real” personal consumption expenditures increased 0.1 percent in August. Consumption is up 2.0 percent over the last 12 months, which is currently in line with its short-term trend. Goods consumption was responsible for the slight increase in the overall number as it improved 0.4 percent, while consumption of services fell 0.1 percent.
  • 09.28.2012
  • PCE Price Index
  • The Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index increased at an annualized rate of 5.3 percent during August, following increases of 1.0 percent in June and 0.4 percent in July, and is up 1.5 percent over the last twelve months. This is the largest one-month increase in the PCE price index since May of 2009, and it pulls the 3-month trend in annualized monthly changes up from −0.3 percent to 2.3 percent. The primary cause of the spike in August was an increase in the price of energy goods and services, a highly volatile series, which jumped 96.1 percent (annualized) during the month. The “core” PCE price index—which excludes food and energy—increased just 1.3 percent in August, following an increase of 0.7 percent in July, and is up 1.6 percent since August of 2011. The short-term (3-month) trend in year-over-year changes for “core” PCE prices has come down a bit since the beginning of the year, as it is currently at 1.7 percent compared with average growth rates of 1.9 and 1.8 percent for the first and second quarter, respectively. The market-based “core” PCE index—which excludes most imputed prices—increased 1.9 percent for the month, after increasing 1.0 percent in July, and is up 1.8 percent over the last twelve months.
  • 09.27.2012
  • Real GDP
  • Real GDP growth was revised down from 1.7 percent to 1.3 percent in the second quarter according to the third estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. It's safe to say that this was a surprise to private forecasters, as the estimate came in 0.2 percentage points below the low end of the range from Bloomberg’s set of forecasters. On a year-over-year basis, real GDP is up 2.1 percent through the second quarter, down 0.2 percentage points (pp) below its previous estimate. The largest contributor to the sharp downward revision in the second quarter was a knockdown in private inventories, which is now calculated to have subtracted 0.4 pp from real GDP growth, compared to just a 0.2 pp takeaway in the previous estimate. Interestingly, the entirety of this downward revision to private inventories came from the farm sector (perhaps we are getting our first glance at the effects of the drought). Downward revisions to real personal consumption expenditures and exports also contributed to the overall knockdown in second-quarter real GDP. Real consumption was revised down from an increase of 1.7 percent to a 1.5 percent gain in the second quarter, subtracting a little over 0.1 pp from output growth. The downward revision to export growth (from 6.0 percent to 5.2 percent) also took off 0.1pp from second-quarter real GDP. Other major categories were essentially unchanged during the revision. Elsewhere, real Gross Domestic Income (GDI)—an alternative measure of national output—was revised down from an increase of 0.6 percent to a 0.2 percent increase in the second quarter, following relative strong gains in the first quarter (up 3.8 percent) and fourth quarter of last year (up 4.5 percent).
  • 09.27.2012
  • Durable Goods
  • Following three consecutive monthly increases, new orders for durable goods fell 13.2 percent (nonannualized) in August, the largest one month decrease since January of 2009. This follows increases of 1.6 percent and 3.3 percent in June and July, respectively, and over the past twelve months, new orders are now down 6.7 percent. New orders for transportation goods, a noisy component which has lead the gains in the past few months, was the primary cause of the large downturn in the headline series as new orders excluding transportation fell just 1.6 percent. Orders for transportation goods fell by 34.5 percent for the month, due primarily to a drop in orders for aircraft and parts. New orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft, which is used to evaluate the near-term outlook in equipment and software investment, were positive for the month, increasing 1.1 percent, following decreases of 2.8 percent and 5.2 percent over the prior two months, and are down 3.1 percent since last August. Shipments of durable goods fell 3.0 percent following an increase of 1.9 percent in July, and are up 4.4 percent on a year-over-year basis, while shipments of nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft, which maps directly into GDP, were down 0.9 percent following a drop of 1.1 percent in July. Over the last 12 months, this series has increased just 0.9 percent, a drop off from the 12-month growth rates of 6.3 percent and 4.8 percent in June and July, respectively. Inventories increased 0.6 percent in August, following increases of 0.3 percent and 0.8 percent in each of the two prior months, and are up 5.2 percent since last year.
  • 09.26.2012
  • New Home Sales
  • Single-family new home sales fell slightly from July to August to an annualized rate of 373,000 units sold. This represents only 0.27 percent decline on a monthly basis, but a sharp 27.7 percent improvement over the past 12 months. The monthly change in new single-family home sales ranged from a 4.9 percent decline in the South, to a 20.0 percent increase in the Northeast. On an annual basis, all regions have experienced strong gains ranging from an 11.5 percent increase in the South to a 64.6 percent increase in the West. The median sales price of new single-family homes rose 11.2 percent to $256,900, while the monthly supply of homes remained unchanged at a 4.5 months’ supply.
  • 09.25.2012
  • Home Price Indexes
  • From June to July, the S&P Case-Shiller home price indexes improved a seasonally-adjusted 0.42 percent for the 10-city index and 0.4 percent for the 20-city index. This is the third consecutive month that all 20 cities have recorded positively monthly changes and the sixth consecutive month for both indexes. On an annual basis both the 10- and 20-city indexes improved the highest levels since late 2010, showing growth of 0.57 percent and 1.14 percent, respectively over the past 12-months. Compared to July 2011, fifteen of the 20 MSAs posted better annual growth rates, two MSAs saw no change and three MSAs including Cleveland saw their annual rates worsen.

    The FHFA housing price index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent in July after downwardly revising the June estimate. Over the past 12-months the index rose 3.7 percent, showing positive annual growth for the sixth consecutive month. Regionally, prices ranged from an 11.9 percent increase in the Mountain region to a 1.4 percent decrease in the New England region. Overall housing prices are back to mid-2004 index levels.

  • 09.19.2012
  • Housing Starts and Permits
  • Single-family housing starts rose 5.5 percent in August to an annualized rate of 535,000 units, after July’s estimate was revised down. Over the past 12 months, housing starts have risen 26.8 percent, the largest annual gain since April 2010. The authorization of building permits was relatively flat, rising just 0.2 percent in August to an annualized rate of 512,000 units. However, when compared to August 2011, the authorization of building permits is up 19.4 percent, continuing the trend toward sharp annual increases seen over the past eight months.
  • 09.19.2012
  • Home Sales
  • Sales of existing single-family homes showed positive signs of growth from July to August, increasing 8.0 percent for the month and 10.0 percent over the past 12 months to an annualized rate of 4.3 million homes sold. This represents the highest level of existing single-family home sales since May 2010. The monthly change in the median sales price of homes was flat, rising just 0.5 percent. Compared to August 2011 the median sales price rose 10.2 percent, which is the highest annual increase since January 2006. The inventory of existing single-family homes rose 6.3 percent in August, while the monthly supply fell 1.6 percent. On an annual basis, both the inventory and monthly supply of existing single-family homes remains subdued, down 16.3 percent and 23.5 percent, respectively.
  • 09.18.2012
  • Current Account
  • In the second quarter of 2012, the U.S. current account deficit contracted to −$117.4 billion, a $16.2 billion decrease from the first quarter’s downwardly revised −$133.6 billion deficit (−$137.3 billion, previously). The narrowing marks the largest contraction since the first quarter of 2009. As a percentage of GDP, the current account decreased 0.4 percentage points to 3.0 percent. A main driver behind the contraction in the overall deficit was a contraction in the deficit on goods by $8.5 billion to −$185.8 billion and an increase in the surplus on income by $8.1 to $55.5 billion. Exports of goods, services, and income continue to post nominal highs marking $737.1 billion, a $8.4 billion expansion from the first quarter of 2012. Imports of goods, services, and income contracted for the first time since the second quarter of 2009, falling by $8.7 to billion to a level of −$821.0 billion.
  • 09.14.2012
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales jumped up 0.9 percent in August, following a downwardly revised, but still relatively strong, 0.6 percent gain in July. However, unlike July, August’s headline increase does not reflect broad-based strength. The bulk of the overall increase was due to a 5.5 percent price-related jump in sales at gasoline stations. Perhaps the only solid reading was on auto sales, which jumped up 1.7 percent in August after two months of flat to down sales growth. Still, the components of this release that map directly into nominal PCE growth were weak in August. “Core” retail sales—which excludes sales at gasoline stations, auto dealers and of building materials—slipped down 0.1 percent in August, pausing after a sharp 0.8 percent gain in July. Still, over the last 3 months, the annualized growth rate in core sales is up 1.9 percent, barely keeping pace with inflation and well below its 12-month growth rate of 3.6 percent.
  • 09.14.2012
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment jumped up from an index level of 74.3 in August to 79.2 in early September, nearly matching its recent high of 79.3 in May. All of the bounce in overall sentiment came from a sharp spike up in respondents’ expectations—from 65.1 to 73.4. The current conditions component edged 0.4 points lower to 88.3. The release noted that the dramatic spike in expectations likely reflected optimism flowing from the recent conventions, which is likely to be temporary. Inflation expectations were unrevised during the August revision, but up sharply from June. Median short-run (one-year ahead) inflation expectations edged down a tenth of a percentage point to 3.5 percent in September, and are still likely reflecting the recent jump in gasoline prices. Respondents don’t appear to see any lasting effect though, as longer-term (five-years ahead) inflation expectations slipped down from 3.0 percent to 2.8 percent during the month.
  • 09.14.2012
  • Industrial Production
  • Industrial production fell 1.2 percent (nonannualized) in August, following a downwardly revised estimate of 0.5 percent from 0.6 percent in July. Slowdowns in production associated with Hurricane Isaac are estimated to have slowed total output by 0.3 percentage points. Manufacturing production also slowed, decreasing 0.7 percent. Within the manufacturing industry, durable and nondurable goods output fell 1.1 and 0.3 percent, respectively. Within durable goods, the production of motor vehicles and parts posted the largest drop in output, falling 4.0 percent, while other categories posted smaller declines. Precautionary shutdowns of oil and gas production in advance of hurricane Isaac contributed to a 1.8 percent decline in mining activity in August. Overall capacity utilization fell 1.0 percentage points to 78.2 percent of capacity.
  • 09.14.2012
  • CPI
  • The headline CPI jumped up at an annualized rate of 7.5 percent in August, its largest monthly increase since June 2009, pushing its 12-month growth rate up from 1.4 to 1.7 percent. However, as noted in the release, roughly 80 percent of this overall increase was due to spiking gasoline prices. Elsewhere, there were some distinct signs of softness in the market basket, though there’s some disagreement between different measures of underlying inflation on how much. Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” CPI rose a mere 0.6 percent in August, slowing from a 1.1 percent increase in July and a 2.5 percent increase in June. Over the past 3 months, the core CPI is up just 1.4 percent, moderately softer than its 12-month growth rate of 1.9 percent. Alternative underlying inflation measures—the median CPI and 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI—came in much higher than the core CPI in August. The median CPI rose 2.8 percent, while the trim was up 2.0 percent in August.

    As was the case last month, the rents (OER and rent of primary residence) are on the upswing, and given their enormous size (roughly 30 percent) relative to the rest of the market basket, are making it harder to disentangle the inflationary signal from noise. Rent of primary residence rose 2.3 percent in August and OER jumped up 3.1 percent (its largest monthly increase since late 2008). Even though we use the regional OER components to calculate the median CPI, given their still sizeable weight and relatively slow-moving nature, they are frequently the median component (five out of the eights months of this year so far). It appears to be a major contributor to the reason the year-over-year growth rate in the median CPI is still hanging in at 2.3 percent. The 12-month growth rate in the trimmed-mean CPI actually nudged down to 1.9 percent in August, in line with the core CPI.

    After stripping away shelter prices from the core CPI, the index actually declined in August, slipping down 0.8 percent, its first decrease since late 2008. Echoing some of this disinflationary signal, the sticky CPI increased 1.6 percent in August, though after excluding shelter prices rose just 0.6 percent. Both the sticky CPI and sticky CPI ex shelter are up 2.2 percent over the past year, which is slightly below their respectively longer-run (10 year) averages. On the other hand, there was some evidence of a seasonal adjustment issue in another “sticky” priced component—education services—that may be pulling down these exclusionary core measures a little too far. The price index for education services (which comprises roughly 3.0 percent of the overall index, but that gets amplified when you exclude food, energy, and shelter components) fell 1.8 percent in August on the heels of a sharp 6.8 percent increase in July--a pattern that has been repeated itself since the end of the last recession.

  • 09.13.2012
  • Producer Price Index
  • Producer prices, as measured by the Producer Price Index (PPI) jumped up at an annualized rate of 21.9 percent in August, following a modest 3.2 percent increase in July. August’s spike was driven largely by a significant jump in finished energy goods prices (up 110 percent at an annualized rate). A less dramatic, though still sizeable increase in prices for finished consumer foods (up 10.8 percent) also contributed to overall jump in producer prices in August. Excluding food and energy components, prices elsewhere in the index rose much more modestly in August, increasing 2.7 percent compared to a 5.4 percent increase in July. On a year-over-year basis, the PPI excluding food and energy is up 2.6 percent, a little over a half a percentage point above the growth rate in the overall index. Pricing pressure was mixed further back on the line of production, as core intermediate goods prices slipped down 2.5 percent and core crude goods prices rose 29.8 percent in August.
  • 09.12.2012
  • Import and Export Prices
  • Import prices rose 0.7 percent in August after posting declines for four consecutive months. Rising petroleum prices—up 4.1 percent from the month prior—drove the increase in the overall index and were partially offset by falling nonpetroleum prices which were down 0.2 percent. After posting declines for four consecutive months, August marks the first increase in petroleum prices which averages losses of 5.0 percent in the second quarter. On a yearly basis, petroleum prices are down 6.4 percent in August, marking four month of declines. Nonpetroleum prices and the overall import price index fell as well on a yearly basis by 0.9 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively. August marks the third and fourth months of consecutive decreases for nonpetroleum prices and the overall index. Despite an increase in import prices from July to August, weakness in sub-categories and year-over-year growth rates indicates that foreign prices have the potential to exert downward pressure on domestic prices in the coming months. Lower import prices could also contribute to lower import levels as well.

    Export prices increased 0.9 percent in August after posting gains of 0.4 percent in July. Nonagricultural prices increased 0.4 percent, the first monthly gain since April of this year. Agricultural prices jumped 5.1 percent in August after climbing 6.3 percent in July. On a year-over-year basis, export prices fell 0.9 percent, posting losses for the fourth consecutive month.

  • 09.11.2012
  • International Trade
  • In July, the U.S. trade deficit expanded by $0.1 billion to $42.0 billion, up slightly from June’s downwardly revised $41.9 billion ($4.9 billion, previously). Both imports and exports fell with the former dropping 0.8 percent to $225.5 billion and the later declining 1.0 percent to $183.7 billion. July marks the first time since April of this year that both imports and exports fell on a monthly basis. On a year-over-year basis, imports rose 0.6 percent, the lowest yearly gain since November 2009. Exports were up 2.8 percent year-over-year in July, a deceleration from June’s 7.3 percent climb and May’s 4.2 percent gain. With the trade deficit expanding less than the consensus forecast of −$44.2 billion, trade is on track to positively contribute to third quarter GDP.
  • 09.10.2012
  • Consumer Credit
  • Total consumer credit fell in July by 1.5 percent at an annual rate, down from the 5.3 percent annualized increase in June. This is the first time consumer credit has shrunk since August 2011. This fall in total consumer credit is the combination of an increase in nonrevolving credit by approximately $1.6 billion ($1,852.9 billion to $1,854.5 billion) which was offset by a decrease in revolving credit of approximately $4.8 billion ($855.5 billion to $850.7 billion). On an year over year basis, total consumer credit is still up 4.4 percent compared to July of last year.
  • 09.07.2012
  • The Employment Situation
  • Nonfarm payrolls rose just 96,000 in August, following downward revisions to June and July payrolls that totaled 41,000 (with half of that coming from government payrolls). Over the past three months, nonfarm payrolls are averaging a monthly gain of 94,000, a slight slowing from earlier in the year and moderately off its pace of 153,000 per month in 2011. Broad industry performance was mixed (perhaps with a downward tilt). On the plus side, leisure and hospitality rose 34,000 in August and have been posting accelerating job growth over the past four months. Healthcare payrolls continued their acyclical climb, rising 22,000 in August. Retail trade payrolls, which had declined in each of the previous three months, rose 6,000 during the month. On the other side, goods-producing payrolls remained on the mat, slipping 16,000 in August. Much of that decline, however, came from auto sector—which failed to follow its usual seasonal retooling pattern—and should be regarded as noise. Excluding autos, manufacturing employment still fell roughly 7,000. Also, construction and mining payrolls were essentially unchanged for the second consecutive month. On the household side of the report, the unemployment rate ticked down 0.2 percentage points to 8.1 percent. However, this “improvement” is misleading. The tick down in unemployment was entirely due to a labor force exodus (minus 368,000) which left the labor force participation rate 0.2 percentage points lower at 63.5 percent. Perhaps more importantly, the employment-to-population ratio edged down a tenth to 58.3 percent (its lowest level since last August).
  • 09.05.2012
  • Construction Spending
  • Private construction spending decreased by 1.2 percent to $558.7 billion, showing a downward trend for the first time since February. Residential construction experienced downward revisions for both May and June, while nonresidential construction had upward adjustments to enhance the overall private construction revisions. The private construction sector is up 15 percent compared to July 2011. Residential construction totaled $264.6 billion, a 19 percent increase over the year. Spending on new single-family and multifamily homes both had large increases of 19.1 percent and 44.5 percent, respectively, over the year. While residential improvements caused most of the downfall of residential construction with a decline of 5.5 percent over the month. Nonresidential construction was down over the month to $294.1 billion, a 0.9 percent decrease over the month, but still up 11.7 percent since last July. Causing the decline for the month was manufacturing, power and utility, commercial and healthcare structures. All sectors still showing improvement over the year.
  • 09.05.2012
  • Productivity and Costs
  • Nonfarm business sector productivity—real output per hour of all persons—increased at a faster rate than originally estimated in the second quarter of 2012, growing at an annualized rate of 2.2 percent (revised up from 1.6 percent). This follows a decline of 0.5 percent in the first three months of the year, and over the last four quarters, productivity has increased 1.2 percent. The upward revision to productivity growth for the second quarter comes from both the output and hours components. The quarterly annualized percent change in output was revised up from 2.0 percent to 2.4 percent, and the change in hours was revised down from 0.4 percent to 0.1 percent, each contributing to the change in the growth rate of productivity. On a year-over-year basis, output is up 3.0 percent, while hours are up just 1.7 percent. Also during the second quarter, hourly compensation increased 3.7 percent (revised up from 3.3 percent), following an increase of 5.8 percent in the first quarter. After controlling for price changes, real hourly compensation increased 2.9 percent (revised up from 2.6 percent) following an increase of 3.3 percent in the first quarter, and is up 0.3 percent since the second quarter of 2011. This marks the first time the four quarter growth rate in real hourly compensation has been positive since the first quarter of 2011. Following an increase of 6.4 percent in the first quarter, unit labor costs increased 1.5 percent in the second quarter of 2012 (revised down slightly from 1.7 percent). Over the last year, they have increased 0.9 percent.
  • 09.04.2012
  • ISM Manufacturing
  • The ISM manufacturing index for August, specifically the Purchasing Manufacturers Index (PMI), decreased by 0.2 to 49.6, slightly below its July level of 49.8. The PMI is still down from its one year high of 54.8 from April 2012. This is the lowest the PMI has been since July 2009 when it reached 49.2. According to the ISM, the past relationship between the PMI and the economy indicates that if the current level of the August PMI (49.6) was annualized, this would correspond to a 2.4 percent increase in real GDP for 2012. Production decreased from 51.3 to 47.2, indicating contraction in production for the first time since May 2009. New orders decreased from 48.0 to 47.1 and they were accompanied by an increase in inventories to 53.0 from 49.0. Employment decreased 0.4 to 51.6. Generally, an employment index above 50.5 percent corresponds to positive job growth in the manufacturing sector as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Prices increased by 145 basis points to 54.0 (from 39.5), the largest such increase since September 2005.