Data Updates

Data Updates

Keeping you up to date on the latest data releases.

July 2014 :: Households and Consumers

  • 05.30.2014
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Final numbers show that the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment increased slightly to 81.9 from the preliminary number of 81.8 posted earlier in May. The Index of Consumer Expectations increased to 73.7 from the preliminary number of 73.2. The economic conditions index decreased to 94.5 from the preliminary number of 95.1.

    As for inflation expectations in May, consumers expect a year-ahead inflation rate of 3.3 percent and a longer rate (5- to 10-year) of 2.8 percent.

  • 05.30.2014
  • Personal Income and Consumption
  • Nominal personal income increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.3 percent in April following increases of 0.4 percent and 0.5 percent in February and March, respectively. Over the past year, nominal personal income has increased 3.6 percent. Disposable personal income (DPI)—personal income less current personal taxes—increased 0.3 percent in April, and is also up 3.6 percent since March of last year. After controlling for price changes, real disposable personal income increased 0.2 percent in April. This follows increases of 0.3 percent in each of the previous two months, and on a year-over-year basis, real DPI has increased 2.0 percent.

    Real personal consumption expenditures declined 0.3 percent in April. This follows increases of 0.5 percent in February and 0.8 percent in March. On a year-over-year basis, real consumption has increased 2.7 percent. The decline in April was the result of declines in both goods and services consumption. Durable goods consumption declined 0.5 percent, while consumption of nondurable goods declined 0.3 percent and services consumption declined 0.2 percent. On a year-over-year basis, durable and nondurable goods consumption have increased 6.1 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively, while services consumption has increased 2.2 percent. Both the increase in income and the decline in consumption contributed to an increase in the personal savings rate from 3.6 percent to 4.0 percent.

  • 05.23.2014
  • New Home Sales
  • In April, sales of new single-family homes rose 6.4 percent for the month, but are down 4.2 percent annually to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 433,000 units sold. Regionally, the Northeast posted the sharpest declines, down 26.7 percent for the month and 31.3 percent over the past 12 months. Meanwhile, the Midwest showed solid improvement with a 47.4 percent increase for the month and 35.5 percent on a year-over-year basis. The median sales price of new single-family homes ticked down 2.1 percent during the month and 1.3 percent annually to $275,800. The inventory of new single-family homes available for sale was 192,000, representing a 5.3 month supply at the current sales pace.
  • 05.22.2014
  • Existing Home Sales
  • In April, sales of existing single-family homes rose 0.5 percent for the month, but are down 7.7 percent over the past 12 months to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 4.06 million units sold. Regionally, monthly growth rates ranged from a 2.1 percent decline in the Midwest to a 4.4 percent increase in the West. On a year-over-year basis, all areas posted declines ranging from a 4 percent drop in the South to an 11.3 percent decline in the West. The median price of existing single-family homes sold was $201,100, an increase of 2.3 percent for the month and 4.7 percent annually. The inventory of existing single-family homes available for sale rose sharply to 2.01 million units, representing a 5.9 month supply at the current sales pace.
  • 05.16.2014
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • According to the May preliminary results from the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment, consumer confidence fell 2.3 points to 81.8, down from April’s reading of 84.1. Declines in the overall index were due to decreases observed in both subindexes: current economic conditions and consumer expectations. Current economic conditions fell 3.6 points to 95.1 in early May, down from 98.7 in April. Consumer expectations fell 1.5 points to 73.2 (from 74.7 in May). However, a repeat high of 58 percent of consumers indicated that they believed the current state of the economy had improved, up 9 percentage points from April. The overall decline likely can be attributed to consumers’ assessment of their personal finances. Only 34 percent of those survey reported gains, as higher prices were mentioned repeatedly. Finally, buying attitudes toward household durables decreased from 143 to 146 in May’s preliminary results.

    Inflation expectations remained nearly unchanged. In early May, consumers again expect prices to increase 3.2 percent within a year and 2.8 percent over the long-term.

  • 05.13.2014
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.2 percent in April and year-over-year sales are up 4.2 percent. April’s retail sales report confirms that the increase in sales seen in March was not a single occurrence as the trend continued into April. Excluding autos, retail sales are up 0.1 percent and 2.7 percent year-over-year in April. Contributing to the monthly gains in total sales were clothing and accessories (up 1.2 percent), gasoline stations (up 0.8 percent), and sporting goods and hobbies (up 0.7 percent). Sectors that saw the largest declines in April were electronics and appliances (down 2.3 percent), food service and drinking places (down 0.9 percent), and nonstore retailers (down 0.9 percent). A less volatile indicator of sales growth, “core” retail sales (which excludes sales of autos, building supplies, and gas stations) decreased 0.1 percent in April. On a year-over-year basis, core retail sales are up 3.1 percent.
  • 05.07.2014
  • Consumer Credit
  • In March, outstanding consumer credit increased at a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 6.7 percent. This follows increases of 5.2 percent and 5.0 percent in January and February, respectively. On a year-over-year basis, consumer credit has increased 5.8 percent. Revolving credit increased 1.6 percent in March after falling 3.8 percent in February, while nonrevolving credit, which mainly reflects student and auto loans, increased 8.7 percent for the month after rising 8.4 percent in the prior month. Over the past year, revolving consumer credit has increased 0.9 percent, and nonrevolving credit has increased 7.8 percent.
  • 04.14.2014
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales increased at a nonannualized rate of 1.1 percent in March. Year-over-year retail sales are up 3.8 percent, their strongest reading since November 2013. The strength in March is attributed to a substantial upward revision to February’s reading, up to 0.7 from 0.3 percent. Excluding autos, retail sales were up 0.7 percent and 2.6 percent year-over-year in March. Contributing to the monthly gains in total sales were motor vehicle and parts (up 3.1 percent), general merchandisers (up 1.9 percent), building materials (up 1.8 percent), and non-store retailers (up 1.7 percent). Sectors that saw the largest declines in March were electronics and appliances (down 1.6 percent) and gasoline stations (down 1.3 percent). A less volatile indicator of sales growth, “core” retail sales (which excludes sales of autos, building supplies, and gas stations) increased 1.0 percent in March, while year-over-year core retail sales are up 3.5 percent.
  • 04.11.2014
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Preliminary numbers show that the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment increased 2.6 points to 82.6 in early April. This is the highest reading since August 2013. Both the current economic conditions and consumer expectations indexes contributed to the increase in the overall numbers. The current economic conditions index rose slightly to 97.1 from 95.7 in March. The consumer expectations index increased to 73.3, up from 70.0. Finally, buying attitudes toward household durables decreased from 148 to 142 in April’s preliminary results.

    As for inflation expectations in early April, consumers expect a year-ahead inflation rate of 3.1 percent and a longer-term (five- to ten-years) rate of 3.0 percent.

  • 04.08.2014
  • Consumer Credit
  • In February, outstanding consumer credit increased at a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 6.4 percent, compared to the 5.3 percent increase in January. Revolving credit decreased 3.3 percent in February after falling 0.3 percent in January. Nonrevolving credit, which mainly reflects student and auto loans, increased 10.5 percent for the month after rising 7.8 percent the month prior.
  • 03.28.2014
  • Personal Income and Consumption
  • Nominal personal income increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.3 percent in February, following a similar 0.3 percent increase in January. Over the past year, nominal personal income has increased 3.1 percent. Disposable personal income (DPI)— personal income less current personal taxes—also increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.3 percent; and after controlling for price changes, real disposable personal income increased 0.3 percent for the month as well. The monthly improvement in real DPI follows a 0.3 percent decline in December and a 0.2 percent increase in January. Since February 2013, real disposable personal income has increased 2.1 percent.

    Real personal consumption expenditures increased 0.2 percent in February. This follows a 0.1 percent decline in December and a 0.1 percent increase in January. On a year-over-year basis, consumption has increased 2.1 percent. Contributing to the gain in February were increases in both goods and services consumption. Consumption of durable goods increased 0.1 percent, while consumption of nondurable goods increased 0.3 percent. Services consumption was up 0.2 percent for the month. On a year-over-year basis, goods consumption has increased 1.9 percent and services consumption has increased 1.5 percent. The personal savings rate, which is personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income, ticked up from 4.2 percent in January to 4.3 percent in February.

  • 03.28.2014
  • Personal Consumption Expenditures
  • The Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index increased at an annualized rate of 0.9 percent in February, following a 1.3 percent increase in January. On a year-over-year basis, the PCE price index has increased 0.9 percent. The core PCE price index, which excludes both the food and energy components, increased 1.1 percent in February, and has increased 1.1 percent over the past year. The 12-month changes in this index have remained in a relatively narrow window between 1.1 and 1.2 percent since April 2013. The market-based core PCE price index, which also excludes most imputed prices, increased 1.0 percent in February. This follows a 0.9 percent increase in January and over the past year, this index has increased 0.9 percent.
  • 03.25.2014
  • Home Price Indexes
  • In January, the S&P/Case-Shiller 10-city composite showed no change, while the 20-city composite ticked down for the third consecutive month—down 0.1 percent. On an annual basis, the 10- and 20-city composites rose 13.5 percent and 13.2 percent, respectively, however 12 of the 20 cities experienced annual declines. While some of the declines are likely due to cold weather, some areas like Las Vegas are still 45 percent below the peak reached in 2006. Elsewhere, Dallas and Denver are now less than 1 percent away from their recent all-time index highs.

    The FHFA house price index rose 0.5 percent from December to January, and 7.4 percent over the past 12 months. The seasonally-adjusted purchase-only index for the nation has shown increases for 23 of the last 24 months. The Pacific region showed the largest improvement on a monthly and annual basis, up 0.8 percent and 14.0 percent, respectively. The overall index is now back to mid-2005 price levels.

  • 03.25.2014
  • New Home Sales
  • In February, the sale of new single-family homes fell 3.3 percent for the month and 1.1 percent over the past 12 months to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 440,000 units sold. The median sales price was $261,800, representing a 0.4 percent increase for the month, but a 1.2 percent decline since last February. The inventory of new homes for sale has risen 24.3 percent over the past year to 189,000 units, which is a 5.2 month supply at the current sales pace.
  • 03.20.2014
  • Existing Home Sales
  • In February, the sale of existing single-family home fell 0.2 percent for the month and 6.9 percent over the past 12 months to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 4.04 million units sold. The largest declines were in the Northeast, where sales ticked down 13.5 percent on both a monthly and annual basis. The median price of existing single-family homes rose to $189,200, an improvement of 0.69 percent for the month and 9.0 percent annually. The inventory of existing homes was 1.73 million units available for sale, representing a 5.1 month supply at the current sales pace.
  • 03.18.2014
  • Housing Starts
  • In February, the groundbreaking of new single-family residential homes was up 0.3 percent but down 10.6 percent over the past 12 months to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 583,000 units started. Regionally, housing starts ranged from a 32.7 percent decline in the Northeast to a 40.7 percent increase in the Midwest. On an annual basis, housing starts ranged from a 46.8 percent decline in the Northeast to 3.4 percent decline in the South. The authorization of new single-family home building permits fell 1.8 percent on a monthly basis and 2.0 percent to a total of 588,000 permits issued on a seasonally-adjusted annualized basis.
  • 03.14.2014
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Preliminary numbers show that the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment decreased 0.7 points to 79.9 in early March. The current economic conditions index rose slightly to 96.1 (from 95.4 in February). The survey noted that consumers expect annual income gains of 1.1 percent, the highest figure recorded since the November 2008 survey. The entire loss in the overall sentiment reading was due to decreases in the index of consumer expectations index, down to 69.4 in March from 72.7 in February. Explanations for the decrease range from weather, recent downturns in GDP growth, and simply a transitory dip. Finally, buying attitudes toward household durables increased from 148 to 149 in March’s preliminary results.

    As for inflation expectations in early March, consumers expect a year-ahead inflation rate of 3.2 percent and a longer-term (five- to ten-year) rate of 2.9 percent.

  • 03.13.2014
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.3 percent in February. On a year-over-year basis, sales are up 1.5 percent. Year-over- year total sales were 1.5 percent in February, the series’ weakest growth since November 2009. Auto sales increased 0.3 percent and over the past 12 months, retails sales excluding autos are up 1.3 percent. Contributing to the monthly gains in total sales were sporting goods and hobbies (up 2.5 percent), nonstore retailers (up 1.2 percent), clothing and accessories, and building materials (both up 0.3 percent). Sectors that saw the largest declines in February were general merchandisers (down 0.3 percent), food and beverages (down 0.2 percent), and electronics and appliances (0.2 percent). A less-volatile indicator of sales growth, “core” retail sales (which excludes sales of autos, building supplies, and gas stations) increased 0.3 percent in February, while year-over-year core retail sales are up 2.3 percent.
  • 03.07.2014
  • Consumer Credit
  • In January, outstanding consumer credit increased at a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 5.3 percent, compared to the 6.2 percent increase in December. Revolving credit decreased 0.3 percent in January, compared to the 4.4 percent increase in December. Nonrevolving credit, which mainly reflects student and auto loans, increased 7.7 percent for the month, rising $13.9 billion after a revised increase of $12.8 billion in the previous month.
  • 03.03.2014
  • Personal Income and Consumption
  • Nominal personal income increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.3 percent in January. This comes after a slight decline (less than 0.1 percent) in December, and over the past twelve months, nominal personal income has increased 4.1 percent. Disposable personal income (DPI)—personal income less current personal taxes— increased 0.4 percent in January and is up 4.0 percent since last year. After controlling for price changes, real disposable personal income increased 0.3 percent, following a 0.1 percent increase in November and a 0.2 percent decline in December. Since January of 2013, real DPI has increased 2.8 percent.

    Real personal consumption expenditures increased 0.3 percent in January following a 0.1 percent decline in the prior month. Over the past twelve months, consumption is up 2.2 percent. The increase in January was entirely driven by services consumption, as a 0.8 percent increase in the consumption of services offset a 0.6 percent decline in the consumption of goods. The decrease in goods consumption was the result of a decline in the consumption of both durable and nondurable goods. Durable goods consumption fell 0.2 percent and nondurable goods consumption was down 0.7 percent for the month. On a year-over-year basis, goods consumption is up 2.5 percent, while services consumption is up 2.1 percent. The similar increase in income and consumption in January kept the personal savings rate steady at 4.3 percent.

  • 02.28.2014
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Final numbers show that the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment increased slightly to 81.6 from the preliminary the number of 81.2 posted earlier in February. The Index of Consumer Expectations decreased to 72.7 from the preliminary number of 73.0. The Economic Conditions Index increased to 95.4 from the preliminary number of 94.0.

    With regard to inflation expectations in February, consumers expect a year-ahead inflation rate of 3.2 percent and a longer (five- to ten-year) rate of 2.9 percent.

  • 02.26.2014
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family home sales rose 9.6 percent in January and 2.2 percent over the past 12 months to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 468,000 units sold—the highest level since July 2008. Regionally, monthly growth rates varied widely from a 73.7 percent increase in the Northeast to a 17.2 percent decline in the Midwest. On annual basis, new homes sales ranged from a 22.7 percent increase in the South to a 23.3 percent decline in the West. The median sales price of new homes sold was $260,100, representing a 2.2 percent decline for the month, but a 3.4 percent increase since January 2013. The inventory of new single-family homes for sale was 184,000 units, which is a 4.7 percent month supply at the current sales pace.
  • 02.21.2014
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales fell 5.8 percent in January and 6.0 percent over the past twelve months to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 4.1 million units sold, the lowest level since June 2012. Regionally, all areas posted negative growth rates on a monthly and annual basis led by the West, which fell 8.3 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively. The median sales price of existing single-family homes was $188,900, a decline of 4.4 percent for the month, but an improvement of 10.4 percent since January 2013. The inventory of homes ticked up 3.0 percent over the month to 1.7 million homes available for sale, which is a 5.0 month supply at the current sales pace.
  • 02.19.2014
  • Housing Starts
  • The groundbreaking of new single-family homes fell 15.9 percent in January and 6.7 percent over the past twelve months to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 573,000 units started. This drop represents the lowest level of housing starts since August 2012. The Midwest suffered the largest declines, falling 60.3 percent for the month and 48.9 percent on year over year basis. Meanwhile, the West improved by 10.7 percent on both a monthly and annual basis. The authorization of new single-family housing units ticked down 1.3 percent to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 602,000 permits issued.
  • 02.13.2014
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales decreased at a nonannualized rate of −0.4 percent in January, but year-over-year sales are up 2.6 percent. Auto sales decrease 2.1 percent, but over the past 12 months retail sales excluding autos are up 2.2 percent. Contributing to the monthly gain in total sales were improvements for building materials (up 1.4 percent), gasoline stations (up 1.1 percent), and electronics and appliances (up 0.4 percent). Sectors that saw the largest declines in January were motor vehicles and parts (down −2.1 percent), sporting goods and hobbies (down −1.4 percent), and clothing and accessories ( down −0.9 percent). A less volatile indicator of sales growth, “core” retail sales (which excludes sales of autos, building supplies, and gas stations) decreased −0.2 percent in January. Year-over-year, core retail sales are up 2.4 percent.
  • 02.07.2014
  • Consumer Credit
  • In December, outstanding consumer credit increased at a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 7.3 percent, compared to the 4.8 percent increase in November. Revolving credit grew 7.0 percent in December, compared to the 0.7 percent increase in November. Nonrevolving credit, which mainly reflects student and auto loans, increased 7.4 percent for the month, rising $13.7 billion after a revised increase of $12.0 billion in the previous month.
  • 01.31.2014
  • Personal Income and Consumption
  • Nominal personal income was essentially flat in December, increasing less than 0.1 percent. This follows a 0.1 percent decline in October and a 0.2 percent increase in November. Over the past twelve months, nominal personal income has declined 0.8 percent. Disposable personal income (DPI)—personal income less current personal taxes—was also flat in December, declining less than 0.1 percent, and as fallen 1.7 percent on a year-over-year basis. After controlling for price changes, real disposable personal income declined 0.2 percent in December following a similar decline of 0.2 percent in October and a 0.1 percent increase in November. Since December of 2012, real disposable personal income has fallen 2.7 percent.

    Real personal consumption expenditures increased 0.2 percent in December, following a strong 0.6 percent increase in November; and over the past twelve months, consumption has increased 2.5 percent. Consumption of durable goods fell 1.4 percent in December, following an increase of 2.1 percent in November, while consumption of nondurable goods increased 1.0 percent for the month. Services consumption increased 0.2 percent in December, and has been positive for each of the last five months. On a year-over-year basis, durable and nondurable goods consumption have increased 4.8 and 3.7 percent, respectively, while services consumption is up 1.7 percent. The larger increase in consumption relative to income resulted in a third consecutive monthly decline in the personal savings rate, from 4.3 to 3.9 percent, its lowest level since January of last year.

  • 01.31.2014
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment was revised up slightly to 81.2 from January’s initial reading of 80.4. The end result was a 1.3 point decline in the index from December to January. The improvement from the January preliminary report was the result of slight upward revisions to both the current conditions and the consumer expectations components. The current conditions component was revised up from 95.2 to 96.8, which marks a 1.8 point decline from December. Meanwhile, the consumer expectations component was revised up from 70.9 to 71.2, a drop of 0.9 point from the previous month. Median short-run (one-year ahead) inflation expectations were revised up slightly to 3.1 percent from 3.0 percent earlier in the month, while longer-term (five-years ahead) inflation expectations remained at 2.9 percent.
  • 01.28.2014
  • Home Price Indexes
  • In November, the FHFA housing price index rose 0.1 percent for the month and 7.6 percent over the past 12 months. The November housing price purchase-only index change marks the twenty-second consecutive monthly increase. Regionally, monthly price changes ranged from a 0.5 percent increase in the West North and East North Central regions to a 1.4 percent decline in the East South Central. On an annual basis, all areas posted positive growth rates ranging from a 3.2 percent increase in the South Atlantic to a 15.4 percent increase in the Pacific. Overall, the index is back to early-2005 price levels.

  • 01.27.2014
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family home sales fell 7.0 percent in December, but are up 4.5 percent over the past 12 months to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 414,000 units sold. While most areas showed relatively stable sales growth, the Northeast posted sharp monthly and annual declines, down 36.4 percent and 27.6 percent, respectively. The inventory of new single-family homes available for sale was 171,000, representing a five-month supply at the current sales pace. The median sales price of new single-family homes was $270,200, up 0.6 percent for the month and 4.6 percent compared to December 2012.
  • 01.17.2014
  • Housing Starts
  • In December, the groundbreaking of new single-family homes fell 7.0 percent to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 667,000 units started, a 7.6 percent improvement compared to December 2012. On a monthly basis, the rate of housing starts fell across all regions, ranging from a 19.3 percent decline in the West to a 2.7 percent decline the South. Annual growth rates also varied widely, from a 9.1 percent decline in the Northeast to a 13.4 percent increase in the South. The authorization of single-family home building permits fell by 4.8 percent for the month, but has improved by 4.5 percent over the past 12 months to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 610,000 permits issued. All regions made strong double-digit gains on an annual basis, but monthly changes ranged from a 12.3 percent decline in the Midwest to a 12.1 percent increase in the West.
  • 01.17.2014
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Preliminary numbers show that the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment decreased slightly in January to 80.4 from 82.5 in December. Low- and middle-income households are mainly concerned about lackluster growth in employment and income. Both indexes contributed to the decrease. The current economic conditions index dropped to 95.2 from 98.6 in December. Consumer expectations also dropped to 70.9 from 72.1 percent. The majority of consumers reported that the economy is currently expanding and anticipated economic growth to remain unchanged in the year ahead. Consumers did raise concerns about the longer-term prospects. Finally, buying attitudes toward household durables declined in January, while vehicle-buying plans became even more positive. Long-term gas price expectations fell to a nine-year low this month.

    As for inflation expectations in early January, consumers expect a year-ahead inflation rate of 3.0 percent and a longer-term (five- to ten-year) rate of 2.9 percent.

  • 01.14.2014
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.2 percent in December and year-over-year sales are up 4.1 percent. Auto sales decreased 1.8 percent and over the past 12 months, retail sales excluding autos are up 3.7 percent. Contributing to the monthly gain in total sales were improvements for food and beverages (up 2.0 percent), clothing and accessories (up 1.8 percent), and gasoline stations (up 1.6 percent). Sectors that saw the largest declines in December were electronics and appliances (down −2.5 percent), motor vehicles and parts (down −1.8 percent), and sporting goods and hobbies (down −0.6 percent). A less volatile indicator of sales growth, “core” retail sales (which excludes sales of autos, building supplies, and gas stations) increased 0.6 percent in December, while year-over-year core retail sales are up 4.2 percent.
  • 01.08.2014
  • Consumer Credit
  • In November, outstanding consumer credit increased at a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 4.8 percent, compared to a 7.0 percent increase last month. Revolving credit grew 0.6 percent in November, compared to a 5.6 percent decline in October. Nonrevolving credit, which mainly reflects student and auto loans, increased 6.4 percent for the month, rising $11.9 billion after a revised increase of $13.9 billion in the previous month.
  • 12.30.2013
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.2 percent in November and has increased 2.3 percent over the past twelve months. The gain in November follows a 0.4 percent increase in September and a 0.1 percent decrease in October. Disposable personal income (DPI)—personal income less current personal taxes—increased 0.1 percent during the month, which follows an increase of 0.5 percent and a decrease of 0.2 percent in September and October, respectively. After controlling for price changes, real disposable personal income increased 0.1 percent in November, following a 0.2 percent decrease in October and over the past year, is up 0.6 percent.

    Real personal consumption expenditures increased 0.5 percent in November, marking the largest monthly gain since February of last year. This follows increases of 0.2 percent and 0.4 percent in September and October, respectively, and over the past year, consumption has increased 2.6 percent. The increase in overall consumption during November was the result of increases in consumption of both goods and services. Goods consumption increased 0.7 percent, which is mostly the result of a 2.2 percent increase in consumption of durable goods. The monthly increase in the consumption of durable goods is the largest since October 2010. Services consumption increased 0.4 percent for the month, following increases of 0.1 percent in each of the previous two months. On a year-over-year basis, goods consumption has increased 4.7 percent and services consumption has increased 1.5 percent. The larger increase in consumption relative to income resulted in a decline in the personal savings rate from 4.5 to 4.2 percent, and the savings rate has declined each of the past two months.

  • 12.30.2013
  • PCE
  • The Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index increased at a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 0.3 percent in November, following a 0.3 percent decline in the previous month. On a year-over-year basis, the PCE price index has increased 0.9 percent. The price of energy goods and services, a volatile component of the index, decreased 11.8 percent, which is the second consecutive monthly decline. The core PCE price index, which excludes food and energy prices, increased 1.2 percent in November following increases of 1.1 and 1.0 in September and October, respectively, and on a year-over-year basis, has increased 1.1 percent. The 12-month percent change in the core PCE price index has mostly remained between 1.1 and 1.2 percent since May. The market-based core PCE price index, which also excludes most imputed prices, increased 1.1 percent in November, following an increase of 0.6 percent in October, and has increased 1.1 percent over the past twelve months.
  • 12.30.2013
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Final numbers show that the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment remained unchanged from the preliminary number of 82.5 posted earlier in December. The Index of Consumer Expectations and Current Economic Conditions remains unrevised at 66.8 and 88.0, respectively.

    In December’s measure of inflation expectations, consumers expect a year-ahead inflation rate of 3.0 percent and a longer (five- to ten-year) rate of 2.7 percent.

  • 12.18.2013
  • Housing Starts
  • In November, the groundbreaking of new single-family residential homes rose 20.8 percent for the month and is up 26.2 percent over the past 12 months to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 727,000 units. This represents the high level of housing starts since March 2008 and is more than double the trough reached in early 2009. The authorization of single-family home building permits also rose to the highest level since early 2008, up 2.1 percent for the month and 10.5 percent since last November to a seasonally-adjusted rate of 634,000 permits issued.
  • 12.12.2013
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.7 percent in November, year-over-year sales are up 4.7 percent. Auto sales increased 1.8 percent and over the past 12 months, retail sales excluding autos have increased 0.4 percent. Contributing to the monthly gain in total sales were improvements for non-store retailers (up 2.2 percent), motor vehicle and parts (up 1.8 percent), and building materials (up 1.8 percent). Sectors that saw the largest declines in November were gasoline stations (down −1.1 percent), clothing and accessories (down −0.2 percent), and food and beverages (down −0.1 percent). A less volatile indicator of sales growth, “core” retail sales (which excludes sales of autos, building supplies, and gas stations), increased 0.6 percent in November. On a year-over-year basis, core retail sales are up 4.5 percent.
  • 12.06.2013
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Preliminary numbers show that the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment increased to 82.5 in early December, up from 75.1 in November. This increase erased the declines seen over the past three months. The gains seen this month were due to improvements among households with incomes below $75,000. The current economic conditions subindex increased to 97.9 from 88.0 in November. Consumer expectations increased to 72.7 in December, up from a reading of 66.8 in November. The gains for the month were driven by an improved outlook for the economy, including job prospects. The improved outlook for jobs was attributed to consumers holding a more favorable outlook for the overall economy in the next year. Finally, buying attitudes toward household durables increased to the highest level in more than six years, to 155 from 136 in November.

    As for inflation expectations in early December, consumers expect a year-ahead inflation rate of 3.0 percent and a longer-term (five- to ten-year) rate of 2.8 percent.

  • 12.06.2013
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income decreased at a nonannualized rate of 0.1 percent in October, following increases of 0.5 percent in both August and September. Since October of last year, nominal personal income has increased 3.4 percent. Disposable personal income (DPI)— nominal personal income less current personal taxes—decreased 0.2 percent in October, and over the past three months, has averaged increases of 0.3 percent. After controlling for price changes, real DPI decreased at a nonannualized rate of 0.2 percent. This follows increases of 0.5 percent in August and 0.4 percent in September. Over the past year, real disposable personal income has increased 1.8 percent.

    Real personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased 0.3 percent in October, following increases of 0.2 percent in August and 0.1 percent in September. The three-month trend in consumption growth is at 0.2 percent and has remained mostly between 0.1 and 0.2 percent over the past year. On a year-over-year basis, consumption has increased 2.1 percent. In October, consumption of durable goods increased 0.8 percent and consumption of nondurable goods increased 0.7 percent, driving the gain in overall consumption. Consumption of services increased just 0.1 percent. A look at the year-over-year changes shows that growth in goods consumption has outpaced growth in services consumption over the past twelve months, as goods consumption has increased 4.1 percent and services consumption has increased 2.7 percent. The larger increase in consumption relative to income during October resulted in a 0.4 percentage points decline in the personal savings rate, from 5.2 to 4.8 percent.

  • 12.06.2013
  • Consumer Credit
  • In October, outstanding consumer credit increased at a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 7.1 percent, beating the revised September increase of 6.4 percent. Revolving credit grew 6.1 percent in October, compared to a 0.3 percent decline in September. Nonrevolving credit, which mainly reflects student and auto loans, increased 7.5 percent for the month, rising $13.9 billion after a revised increase of $16.3 billion in the previous month.
  • 12.04.2013
  • New Home Sales
  • In October, the sale of new single-family homes rose to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 444,000 units sold. This represents a 25.4 percent increase over the newly released September figure of 354,000, and a 21.6 percent increase since October of 2012. Regionally, most areas posted strong monthly and annual improvements with the exception of the West, where new home sales were down 14.2 percent on a year-over-year basis. The median sales price of new single-family home sales was $245,800, which is a decline of 4.5 percent over the month and 0.6 percent since last October. At the current pace sales in October, the monthly supply of new single-family homes is 4.9 months, down 23.4 percent compared to September, but an improvement of 2.1 percent over the past 12 months.
  • 11.27.2013
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Final numbers show that the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment increased to 75.1 from the preliminary number, 72.0, posted earlier in November. The Index of Consumer Expectations and Current Economic Conditions contributed to the intramonth increase with a revision 66.8 from 62.3 and 88.0 from 87.2, respectively.
  • 11.22.2013
  • Home Prices Indexes
  • The S&P Case-Shiller national housing price index rose 3.2 percent from the second to third quarter and 11.2 percent over the past four quarters. In September, both the 10-and 20-city composite indexes rose 0.7 percent for the month and 13.3 percent on a year-over-year basis. Overall, both the national and monthly composite indexes are back to mid-2004 price levels.

    The FHFA housing price index rose 1.9 percent in the third quarter of 2013 and 8.4 percent since the third quarter of 2012. This represents the ninth consecutive quarterly price increase. On a monthly basis, the index improved by 0.3 percent in September and 8.5 percent annually. Regional home prices changes ranged from a decline of 0.1 percent in the Mountain, West South Central and Middle Atlantic regions to a 1.9 percent increase in the East South Central. The index is now back to early-2005 price levels.

  • 11.21.2013
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales fell 4.1 percent in October, but are up 5.2 percent over the past 12 months to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of nearly 4.5 million units sold. Regionally, all areas experienced drops in the pace of home sales during the month, ranging from a 1.7 percent decline in the Midwest to 7.2 percent decline in the West. However, the median sales price of existing single-family homes ticked up 0.5 percent for the month and 12.7 percent since last October to $199,500. Meanwhile, the inventory of available homes for sale fell 2.1 percent for the month to 1.8 million units, representing a five-month supply at the current sales pace.
  • 11.20.2013
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.4 percent in October and year-over-year sales are up 3.9 percent. Auto sales increased 1.4 percent. Over the past 12 months, retail sales excluding autos have increased 0.2 percent. Contributing to the monthly gain in total sales were improvements in sporting goods and hobbies (up 1.6 percent), electronics and appliances (up 1.4 percent), clothing and accessories (up 1.4 percent), and motor vehicles and parts (up 1.3 percent). Sectors that saw the largest declines in October were building materials (down −1.9 percent) and gasoline stations (down −0.6). A less volatile indicator of sales growth, “core” retail sales—which excludes sales of autos, building supplies, and gas stations—increased 0.4 percent in October. Year-over-year core retail sales are up 4.0 percent.
  • 11.08.2013
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.5 percent in September. This follows increases of 0.2 and 0.5 percent in July and August, respectively. Over the past year, nominal personal income has increased 3.7 percent. Current personal taxes were relatively stable during the month, increasing 0.2 percent, as disposable personal income (DPI)—nominal personal income less current personal taxes—also increased 0.5 percent. After controlling for price changes, real disposable personal income increased 0.4 percent in September, which follows increases of 0.4 percent in August and 0.2 percent in July. Over the past year, real DPI has increased 2.0 percent.

    Contributing to consumption growth in September was a 0.2 percent increase in services consumption and a 0.6 percent increase in nondurable goods consumption. This was partially offset by a 1.2 percent decline in durable goods consumption, the first decline since January. Over the past twelve months, goods consumption has been steady, increasing 3.3 percent, while services consumption has increased just 1.0 percent. The larger increase in income compared with the increase in consumption caused another slight increase in the personal savings rate, which is now at 4.9 percent and has been increasing throughout most of the year.

  • 11.08.2013
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Preliminary numbers show that the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment dipped to 72.0 in early November, down from 73.2 in October. This is the fourth consecutive month the index has decreased. Views on present conditions and economic expectations both pulled the index lower. The current economic conditions subindex fell 2.7 points to 87.2. Consumer expectations also fell 0.2 to 62.3, its lowest level since November 2011. The overall decline in the index is due to changes among income groups: low-income households posted declines, while increases were posted by high-income households. Stock price increases drove net wealth gains among high-income households to the highest level in six-years. Finally, buying attitudes toward household durables fell this month to 135 (from 136 in October).

    As for inflation expectations in early November, consumers expect a year-ahead inflation rate of 3.1 percent and a longer-term (five-to-ten year) rate of 2.9 percent.

  • 11.07.2013
  • Consumer Credit
  • In September, outstanding consumer credit increased at a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 5.4 percent, slightly below the revised August increase of 5.6 percent. Revolving credit growth fell 2.9 percent in September, compared to a 1.2 percent decline in August. Nonrevolving credit, which mainly reflects student and auto loans, increased 8.7 percent for the month, rising $15.8 billion after a revised increase of $15.0 billion in the previous month.
  • 10.30.2013
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales decreased at a nonannualized rate of 0.1 percent in September, while year-over-year retail sales are up 3.2 percent. Auto sales decreased 2.17 percent, but over the past 12 months, retail sales excluding autos increased 0.4 percent. Contributing to the monthly gain in total sales were improvements for food service and drinking places (up 0.9 percent), food and beverages (up 0.9 percent), and electronics and appliances (up 0.7 percent). Sectors that saw the largest declines in September were clothing and accessories (down −0.5) and motor vehicles and parts (down −2.2). A less volatile indicator of sales growth, “core” retail sales (which excludes sales of autos, building supplies, and gas stations) increased 0.4 percent in September, following an increase of 0.1 percent in August.
  • 10.29.2013
  • Home Price Indexes
  • In August, the S&P Case-Shiller 10-city and 20-city composite housing price indexes rose 1.3 percent during the month and 12.8 percent over the past 12 months, the highest annual growth rate since February 2006. On both a monthly and annual basis, all cities posted positive growth rates (led by Las Vegas), up 2.9 percent and 29.2 percent, respectively. While Denver and Dallas set new record highs, Detroit remains the only city on the index below its January 2000 level. Overall, both composite indexes are back to their mid-2004 levels.

    The FHFA national housing price index rose 0.3 percent in August after a modest downward revision to July’s figure and 8.5 percent over the past 12 months. This represents the nineteenth consecutive month of growth in the national purchase-only index level. Regionally, the monthly price indexes ranged from a 0.5 percent decline in the South Atlantic to a 1.3 percent increase in the Mountain division. Meanwhile, all census regions posted solid positive annual growth rates, which ranged from a 4.0 percent increase in the Middle Atlantic to 18.2 percent in the Pacific. Overall, the national index is back to early 2005 levels.

  • 10.25.2013
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Final numbers show that the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment fell to 73.2 from the preliminary number, 75.2, posted earlier in October. The consumer expectations and current economic conditions indexes contributed to the intramonth decrease, with revisions of 62.5 from 63.9 and 89.9 from 92.8, respectively. October’s final reading is the lowest reading in nine months.

    As for inflation expectation revisions, consumers now expect a year-ahead inflation rate of 3.0 percent down from 3.3 percent in September. And a longer-term (five- to ten-year) rate of 2.8 percent, down from 3.0 percent in September.

  • 10.11.2013
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Preliminary numbers show that The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment dipped to 75.2 in early October (from 77.5 in September)—the lowest reading since August 2012. Thirty-five percent of all consumers mentioned an unfavorable reference to the government’s economic policies, an all-time record. Survey respondents viewed current economic conditions better than last month, up slightly to 92.8. This increase was due to more households reporting income gains. On the other hand, consumer expectations decreased, from 67.8 to 63.9. Finally, buying attitudes toward household durables fell from 143 to 139 in September due to fewer discounts on prices and interest rates, yet vehicle and home-buying improved.

    As for inflation expectations in early October, consumers expect a year-ahead inflation rate of 2.9 percent and a longer-term (five- to ten-year) rate of 2.8 percent.

  • 10.07.2013
  • Consumer Credit
  • In August, outstanding consumer credit increased at a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 5.4 percent, outpacing July’s increase of 4.1 percent. Revolving credit growth fell −1.2 percent in August, compared to a −2.6 percent decline in July. Nonrevolving credit, which mainly reflects student and auto loans, increased 8.0 percent in August, rising $14.5 billion after an increase of $12.3 billion in the previous month.
  • 09.27.2013
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Final numbers show that the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment has risen to 77.5 from the preliminary number of 76.8 posted earlier in September. The Index of Consumer Expectations and Current Economic Conditions contributed to the intramonth gain with a revision of 92.6 (from 91.8) and 67.8 (from 67.2), respectively. September’s final reading was revised up from the preliminary report, but is still the lowest reading in four months.

    As for inflation expectation revisions, consumers now expect a year-ahead inflation rate of 3.3 percent up from 3.0 percent in August, and a longer-term (five- to 10-year) rate of 3.0 percent, up from 2.9 percent in August.

  • 09.27.2013
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.4 percent in August, following increases of 0.3 percent in June and 0.2 percent in July. Over the past year, nominal personal income has increased 3.7 percent. Disposable personal income (DPI)— personal income less current personal taxes—increased 0.5 percent in August, and is up 2.8 percent since August 2012. After controlling for price changes, real disposable personal income increased 0.3 percent, which follows an increase of 0.2 percent in July, and has increased 1.6 percent on a year-over-year basis. Real personal consumption expenditures increased 0.2 percent, due to increases in both durable goods and services consumption. Durable goods consumption increased 0.8 percent and is up 8.0 percent over the past twelve months, while consumption of services increased 0.2 percent in August, and is up 1.9 percent since last year. Consumption of nondurable goods declined 0.2 percent for the month. On a year-over-year basis, consumption has increased 2.0 percent. The larger increase in income relative to the increase in consumption caused the personal savings rate, which is measured as personal savings as a percentage of disposable personal income, to increase from 4.5 to 4.6 percent.
  • 09.19.2013
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales were up 1.7 percent in August and 12.8 percent over the past 12 months to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 4.84 million units sold. Regionally, the change in monthly home sales ranged from a 2.6 percent decline in the West to a 3.8 percent increase in the South. Annually, all areas posted positive growth rates with the Midwest leading, up 18.3 percent. The price of existing single-family homes was $212,200—a slight 0.4 percent decline for the month—but is up 14.4 percent since last August. Meanwhile, the inventory and monthly supply of existing home sales rose 2.6 percent and 2.0 percent, respectively in August, but remain down 5.6 percent and 16.7 percent, respectively on an annual basis.
  • 09.18.2013
  • Housing Starts
  • In August, the groundbreaking of new single-family homes rose 7.0 percent and 16.9 percent annually to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 628,000 units started. While this figure was slightly below consensus expectations due to a downward revision to July’s estimate, this was the highest level of housing starts since February. Regionally, all areas posted positive growth rates on both a monthly and annual basis, with the West leading both. The authorization of single-family housing units was up 3.0 percent for the month and 20.6 percent over the past 12 months to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 627,000 units authorized, the highest level since May 2008.
  • 09.13.2013
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.2 percent in August, the weakest growth the series has seen in the past four months. Year-over-year retail sales are up 4.8 percent. Auto sales were up 0.9 percent in August. Over the past 12 months, retail sales excluding autos have increase 3.3 percent. Contributing to the monthly gain in total sales were furniture and home furnishing stores (up 0.9 percent), motor vehicle and parts (up 0.9 percent), and electronics and appliances (up 0.8 percent). Sectors that saw the largest declines in August were building materials (down 0.9 percent), clothing and accessories (down 0.8 percent), and sporting goods and hobbies (down 0.5 percent). A less volatile indicator of sales growth, “core” retail sales (which excludes sales of autos, building supplies, and gas stations) increased 0.1 percent in August, following an increase of 0.5 percent in July. On a year-over-year basis “core” retail sales are up 4.1 percent.
  • 09.13.2013
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Preliminary numbers show that the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment dipped to 76.8 in early September, down from 82.1 in August. Current economic conditions’ sub-index fell 3.4 points to 91.8. Consumer expectations also fell 6.5 points to 67.2; both sub-indexes are at their lowest level seen since May. This month the personal financial situation of consumers weakened in early September, mainly due to more reports of income declines than income gains. Home buying attitudes were more favorable and selling conditions were judged less favorably. Finally, buying attitudes toward household durables fell to 143 (from 144 in August).

    As for inflation expectations in early September, consumers expect a year-ahead inflation rate of 3.2 percent and a longer-term (five- to-ten year) rate of 3.0 percent.

  • 09.09.2013
  • Consumer Credit
  • Consumer credit rose at a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 4.4 percent in July. July’s consumer credit growth was below both June and May figures (5.1 percent 6.8 percent, respectively). Revolving credit growth fell −2.6 percent in July, compared to a −5.2 percent decline in June. Nonrevolving credit growth decreased from 9.5 percent to 7.4 percent from June to July, rising $12.2 billion after an increase of $16.5 billion in the previous month.
  • 08.30.2013
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.1 percent in July, which follows increases of 0.3 percent in both May and June, respectively. Since last July, nominal personal income has increased 3.3 percent. Disposable personal income (DPI)—nominal personal income less current personal taxes—increased 0.2 percent during the month and has increased 2.2 percent over the past year. After controlling for price changes, real disposable personal income increased 0.1 percent in July, following 0.2 percent decline in June. The July improvement in real DPI is similar to the average increases during the second quarter of this year, and on a year-over-year basis, inflation-adjusted disposable income has increased 0.8 percent.

    Real personal consumption expenditures (PCE) also increased 0.1 percent in July, following a 0.2 percent increase in June. The slight July improvement was driven by goods consumption, which increased 0.4 percent, while services consumption declined 0.1 percent. Within goods consumption, consumption of durable goods increased 0.1 percent and consumption of nondurable goods increased 0.5 percent. Over the past year, real PCE has increased 1.7 percent. The similar improvements in both income and consumption caused the personal savings rate, which is measured as personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income, to remain steady at 4.4 percent.

  • 08.30.2013
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Final numbers show that The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment has risen to 82.1 from the preliminary number of 80.0 posted earlier in August. Revisions to the Index of Consumer Expectations and Current Economic Conditions contributed to the intramonth gain with a revision of 73.7 from 72.9 and 95.2 from 91.0, respectively.

    As for inflation expectation revisions, consumers now expect a year-ahead inflation rate of 3.0 percent, down from 3.1 percent, and a longer-term (5- to 10-year) rate of 2.9 percent, up from 2.8 percent.

  • 08.27.2013
  • Home Price Indexes
  • All three S&P Case-Shiller housing price indexes continued to increase in June. The national index was up 7.1 percent in the second quarter of this year and 10.1 percent over the past four-quarters. Both the 10- and 20-city composites rose 2.2 percent for the month, and 11.9 percent and 12.1 percent, respectively since last June. All 20 cities posted gains on a monthly and annual basis with Dallas and Denver reaching new all-time highs. However, in only six cities were home prices rising fast in June compared to May. Overall home prices are back to spring 2004 levels.

    The FHFA national housing price index rose 2.1 percent in the second quarter of 2013 and is up 7.2 percent compared to the second quarter of 2012. As for states within the District, four-quarter price changes ranged from a 1.9 percent increase in Kentucky to a 3.7 percent increase in Pennsylvania. Looking at purchase-only indexes for the 100 most populated metropolitan areas within the U.S., the Orlando, FL metro area reported the greatest price increases (up 10.0 percent in the second quarter) while prices were weakest in the Akron, OH area (down 3.9 percent). The expanded-data housing price index (which adds transaction information from county recorder offices) rose 2.4 percent in the second quarter of this year and is up 7.5 percent since this time last year. The overall monthly index for June was up 0.7 percent from May and 7.7 percent since June 2012. The monthly index is now back to early 2005 price levels.

  • 08.23.2013
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family home sales dropped 13.4 percent from June to July, but are up 6.8 percent over the past 12 months to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 394,000 units sold. This is the lowest level of new single-family home sales since October 2012. Regionally, all areas posted sharp monthly declines ranging from a 5.7 percent decline in the Northeast to a 16.1 percent decline in the West. Annually, new home sales varied widely, from a 7.8 percent decline in the West to a 16.4 increase in the South. The median sales price of new single-family homes was $257,200, down 0.5 percent for the month, but remains up 8.3 percent from July 2012. The inventory of new single-family homes rose to 171,000, which represents a 5.2 months’ supply at the current sales pace.
  • 08.21.2013
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales rose to the highest level in nearly four years in July, increasing 6.3 percent for the month and 16.4 percent over the past 12 months to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 4.76 million units sold. Regionally, all areas showed positive monthly growth ranging from a 4.5 percent increase in the South to an 11.5 percent increase in the Northeast. Annually, all areas posted strong double-digit growth rates led by the Midwest, up 20.0 percent. The price of existing single-family homes ticked down for the month, falling 0.27 percent, but remains up 13.5 percent annually. Meanwhile, the available inventory of existing homes rose 3.6 percent for the month to an annualized rate of 2 million units which represents a 5.0 month supply at the current sales pace.
  • 08.16.2013
  • Housing Starts
  • The groundbreaking of new single-family homes fell 2.2 percent in July, but has risen 15.4 percent since July 2012 to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 591,000 units started. Regionally, monthly housing starts ranged from a 9.8 percent decline in the West to a 12.0 percent increase in the Northeast. On a year-over-year basis, all areas showed strong positive growth. The issuance of single-family home building permits slipped 1.9 percent in July, but has risen 17.9 percent over the past 12 months to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 613,000 permits. The monthly change in the authorization of building permits ranged from a 6.4 percent decline in the West to a 2.9 percent increase in the Midwest. Meanwhile, annual growth rates posted increases of 12.0 percent increase or better in all regions.
  • 08.13.2013
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.2 percent in July. Year-over-year retail sales are up 5.4 percent. Auto sales decreased 1.1 percent in July. Over the past 12 months, retail sales excluding autos have increased 0.5 percent. Contributing to the monthly gain in total sales were improvements for sporting goods and hobbies (up 1.0 percent), clothing and accessories (up 0.9 percent), and gasoline stations (up 0.9 percent). Sectors with the largest declines in July were furniture and home furnishing stores (down 1.4 percent), motor vehicle and parts (down 1.0 percent), and building materials (down 0.4 percent). A less-volatile indicator of sales growth, “core” retail sales (which excludes sales of autos, building supplies, and gas stations) increased 0.5 percent in July following an increase of 0.3 percent in June. On a year-over-year basis, “core” retail sales are up 3.3 percent.
  • 08.07.2013
  • Consumer Credit
  • Consumer credit rose at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.9 percent. The change in June was slightly below expectations and equivalent to the second-quarter average of 5.9 percent. June’s consumer credit growth fell in the between that of April (4.2 percent) and May (7.5 percent). Revolving credit growth reversed from an annualized percentage change of 9.5 percent in May to −3.7 percent in June. Nonrevolving credit growth increased from 7.0 to 10.5 percent from May to June, rising $16.5 billion after an increase of $11.1 billion in the previous month.
  • 08.02.2013
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.3 percent in June. This follows an increase of 0. 4 percent in May and over the past year, nominal personal income has increased 3.1 percent. Disposable personal income (DPI)—nominal personal income less current personal taxes—also increased 0.3 percent in June and is up 1.9 percent over the past twelve months. After controlling for price changes, real DPI decreased 0.1 percent in June, following increases of 0.2 percent in both April and May. On a year-over-year basis, real DPI has increased 0.6 percent.

    Following increases of 0. 1 percent in both April and May, real personal consumption expenditures (PCE) also increased 0.1 percent in June. Since last year, consumption has increased 2.0 percent. The increase in real PCE over the past two months has primarily come from goods consumption, which has increased 0.6 and 0.4 percent in May and June, respectively. A large contributor to the increases in goods consumption recently has been the strength of the consumption of durable goods, which averaged monthly growth rates of 0.7 percent during the second quarter. Goods consumption has increased 4.2 percent over the past year, while consumption of services, which was flat in June, has increased just 0.9 percent on a year-over-year basis. Additionally, the personal savings rate ticked down 0.2 percentage points to 4.4 percent.

  • 07.30.2013
  • Home Price Indexes
  • From April to May the S&P Case-Shiller 10- and 20-city housing price composite indexes rose a seasonally-adjusted 1.1 and 1.0 percent, respectively. On a nonseasonally-adjusted basis, Dallas and Denver reached record-level highs, surpassing pre-financial crisis peaks. Additionally, five cities posted monthly gains of over 3.0 percent. Elsewhere, only two cities experienced monthly price declines after seasonal adjustment: Cleveland, down 0.5 percent and Minneapolis, down 0.2 percent. On an annual basis, both indexes posted the strongest year-over-year gains since March 2006, as the 10-city composite rose a seasonally-adjusted 11.8 percent and the 20-city composite rose 12.2 percent. Overall home prices are back to spring 2004 levels.

    The FHFA housing price index rose by 0.7 percent in May after a slight downward revision to April’s estimate. This represents the sixteenth consecutive month of home price increases and a 7.3 percent increase over the past 12 months. Regionally, monthly price changes where modest across all regions, while annual growth rates ranged from a 3.3 percent increase in the Middle Atlantic to a 15.8 percent increase in the Pacific. Overall home prices are back to early 2005 levels.

  • 07.26.2013
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Final numbers show that the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment has risen to 85.1 from the preliminary number (83.9) posted earlier in July. The Index of Consumer Expectations contributed to the intramonth gain with a revision of 76.5, up from 73.8. July’s final reading was revised up from the preliminary report and this revision brings the index to its highest level in six years.

    As for inflation expectation revisions, consumers now expect a year-ahead inflation rate of 3.1 percent (down from 3.3 percent) and a longer-term (five- to ten-year) rate of 2.8 percent (down from 2.9 percent).

  • 07.24.2013
  • New Home Sales
  • In June new home sales rose 8.3 percent and are up 38.1 percent annually to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 497,000 units sold. This represents the highest level of new home sales since May 2008. Regionally, monthly sales rates ranged from an 11.8 percent decline in the Midwest to an 18.5 percent increase in the Northeast. On a year-over-year basis, all areas showed strong positive growth with the greatest increase being a 100.0 percent increase in the Northeast. Meanwhile, the monthly supply of homes fell 7.1 percent for the month and 18.8 percent annually to a 3.9 month supply at the current sales pace. The median sales price of new homes in June was $249,700, which is a 5.0 percent decline for the month, but a 7.4 percent increase since this time last year.
  • 07.15.2013
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.4 percent in June, a slight deceleration from 0.6 percent gain in May. On a yearly basis, retail sales are up 5.7 percent. Auto sales increase 1.8 percent in June. Excluding autos, retail sales were flat in June. Over the past 12 months retail sales excluding autos have increased 4.5 percent. Contributing to the monthly gain in total sales were improvements for furniture and home furnishings (up 2.4 percent), non-store retailers (up 2.1percent) and motor vehicles and parts (up 1.8 percent). Sectors that saw the largest declines in June were building materials (down 2.2 percent), food service and drinking places (down 1.2 percent), and electronics and appliances (down 0.1 percent). A less volatile indicator of sales growth, “core” retail sales (which excludes sales of autos, building supplies, and gas stations) decreased −0.1 percent in June following an increase of 0.4 percent in May. On a year-over-year basis “core” retail sales are up 4.5 percent.
  • 07.12.2013
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Preliminary numbers show that The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment dipped to 83.9 in early July from 84.1 in June. This is the second consecutive month of declines. Survey respondents viewed current economic conditions better than last month: That sub-index rose from 93.8 to 99.7, the highest reading since July 2007. The proximate cause for the index of consumer expectations decline among high income households, as well as the falloff in the future economic prospects was a surge in the number of households that expect higher interest rates during the year ahead. Consumers are anticipating interest rate increase to slow the pace of economic growth and dim prospects for employment. For the first time since 2004, more households are looking towards low interest rates rather than low prices when asked about buying attractive conditions for homes and vehicles. Finally, buying attitudes toward household durables improved this month to 147 from 143 in June.

    As for inflation expectations in early July, consumers expect a year-ahead inflation rate of 3.3 percent and a longer-term (five- to ten-year) rate of 2.9 percent.

  • 07.08.2013
  • Consumer Credit
  • Consumer credit rose at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 8.3 percent to $2,795.7 billion in May, pushing past expectations. Consumer credit increased 5.82 percent from May 2013 over May 2012. Student loans continue to be the major driver behind rising balances. Nonrevolving credit and revolving credit segments rose an annualized 8.2 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively, in May.
  • 06.28.2013
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Final numbers show that the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment has risen to 84.1 from the preliminary 82.7 posted earlier in June. Both of the components— Current Economic Conditions and the Index of Consumer Expectations—contributed to the intramonth gain. June’s final reading was revised up from the preliminary report, but has edged down 0.4 from the five-year high of 84.5 in May.

    As for inflation expectation revisions, consumers now expect a year-ahead inflation rate of 3.0 percent down from 3.2 percent, and a longer-term (five- to ten-year) rate of 2.9 percent down from 3.0 percent.

  • 06.27.2013
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.5 percent in May, following increases of 0.3 percent in March and 0.1 percent in April. Over the past 12 months, nominal personal income has increased 3.3 percent. Disposable personal income (DPI)?nominal personal income less current personal taxes?also increased 0.5 percent for the month and is up 2.2 percent since May of last year. After controlling for price changes, real disposable personal income increased 0.4 percent in May, following increases of 0.3 percent in each of the prior two months, and is up 1.2 percent on a year-over-year basis.

    Real personal consumption expenditures increased 0.2 percent in May, which follows a slight 0.1 percent decline in April. The improvement in overall consumption in May came entirely from consumption of goods. Consumption of durable and nondurable goods increased 1.0 and 0.5 percent, respectively, while services consumption decreased 0.1 percent. Since last year, overall consumption is up 1.8 percent, and the 12-month change in consumption has consistently been between 1.5 and 2.0 percent since the end of 2011. The larger improvement in personal income relative to consumption in May caused the personal savings rate to increase to 3.2 percent.

  • 06.20.2013
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales rose by 5.0 percent from April to May and 12.7 percent over the past 12 months to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 4.6 million units sold. This represents the highest level of sales since November 2009. All areas posted solid monthly and annual improvement with the South and Midwest leading those gains. The median sales price of existing single-family homes rose to $208,700, which is the highest level since July 2008. The inventory rose 3.7 percent to 1.98 million units, while monthly supply of homes was flat for month at a 5.2 month supply given the current pace of sales.
  • 06.14.2013
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Preliminary numbers show that the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment fell to 82.7 in early June from 84.5 in May. Survey respondents viewed current economic conditions as worse than last month, dropping 5.9 percentage points. This is the largest monthly drop in present conditions since August 2011. Among the top third of the income distribution, the sentiment index rose to 96.1 in June from 94.1 in May, the highest level recorded during this recovery. The majority of the index pullback was among lower income households. Consumers were still slightly more optimistic about future economic outlook, which rose 0.9 percentage points. When asked about prospects for the national economy during the year ahead, consumers are more optimistic than any other time since mid-2007. Unemployment expectations were mixed with fewer consumers expecting either increases or declines during the year ahead for unemployment. Finally, buying attitudes toward household durables declined among lower income households, while vehicle buying attitudes declined among upper income households. Even with these attitude declines, the survey points to the current attitudes being more favorable than any time in the past year.

    As for inflation expectations in early June, consumers expect a year-ahead inflation rate of 3.2 percent and a longer-term (five- to ten-year) rate of 3.0 percent.

  • 06.13.2013
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.6 percent in May, slightly higher than the 0.1 percent increase observed in April. On a yearly basis, retail sales are up 4.3 percent. Auto sales increase 1.8 percent, making May the second consecutive month of gains. Excluding autos, retail sales increased 0.3 percent in May and over the past 12 months, retail sales excluding autos have increased 3.2 percent. Contributing to the monthly gain in total sales were improvements for motor vehicles and parts (up 1.8 percent), building materials (up 0.9 percent), and nonstore retailers (up 0.7 percent). Sectors that saw the largest declines in May were furniture and home furnishing stores (down 0.8 percent), electronics and appliances (down 0.4 percent), and food service and drinking places (down 0.4 percent). A less volatile indicator of sales growth, “core” retail sales (which excludes sales of autos, building supplies, and gas stations) increased 0.4 percent in May following an increase of 0.5 percent in April. On a year-over-year basis “core” retail sales are up 3.4 percent.
  • 06.07.2013
  • Consumer Credit
  • In April, outstanding consumer credit increased at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 4.7 percent to $2,820 billion, outpacing March’s upwardly revised increase of 3.6 percent. Revolving credit rose by 1.0 percent, and nonrevolving credit, which mainly reflects student and auto loans, rose by 6.4 percent. Revisions to March’s preliminary numbers show that revolving consumer credit fell by 1.3 percent, while nonrevolving rose by 5.7 percent.
  • 05.31.2013
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Revised numbers show that the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment rose in May to 84.5 (preliminarily 83.7) from 76.4 in April. This marks the highest reading since July 2007. While the overall May gain continued to be paced by upper income households, confidence among middle- and lower-income households also began to improve in late May. According to the release, the data clearly suggest a faster pace of growth in consumer spending during the year ahead than was anticipated even one month ago. To be sure, however, consumers still expressed concerns with their financial prospects, especially about their prospects for income gains in the year ahead as well as over the longer term. The only revision to inflation expectations changed the longer-term (five- to ten-year) rate from 2.8 percent to 2.9 percent.

  • 05.22.2013
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales rose 1.2 percent in April and 9.0 percent over the past 12 months to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 4.38 million units sold. This represents the highest sales pace since November 2009. Regionally, all areas posted positive annual growth rates, while on a monthly basis existing single-family home sales ranged from a 2.8 decline in the Midwest to a 2.9 percent increase in the South and West. The median sales price of existing single-family homes rose to $193,300 which is the highest level since August 2008. The inventory and monthly supply of existing homes continue to post double-digit annual declines, down 11.9 percent and 18.5 percent, respectively. On a monthly basis, the inventory of homes for sale rose 13.6 percent in April to 1.92 million units and the monthly supply of homes rose 12.8 percent to a 5.3 months’ supply at the current sales pace.
  • 05.17.2013
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Preliminary numbers show that The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment rose to 83.7 in early May, from 76.4 in April. According to the release, the early May rebound was primarily due to a surge in optimism among upper-income households. Among households with incomes in the top third of the distribution, the Sentiment Index jumped 20.6 index points to the highest level since July 2007, compared with a gain of 2.3 index points among the bottom two-thirds. Whereas upper-income households anticipated net declines in unemployment during the year ahead, households in the bottom two-thirds of the income distribution anticipated continued net increases. Consumers reported a more favorable assessment of their personal financial situations in early May than at any time since 2007, with the largest gains reported by households in the upper third of the income distribution. Finally, buying attitudes toward household durables improved to the highest levels since mid-2007, and vehicle buying attitudes were at the highest level since mid-2005.

    As for inflation expectations in early May, consumers expected a year-ahead inflation rate of 3.1 percent and a longer-term (five- to ten-year) rate of 2.8 percent.

  • 05.16.2013
  • Housing Starts
  • New single-family housing starts fell 2.1 percent in April, but are up 20.8 percent over the past year to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 610,000 units started. Regionally, all areas posted solid double-digit annual growth rates. On a monthly basis, housing starts ranged widely from a 48.8 percent increase in the Northeast to a 12.9 percent decline in the South. The authorization of single-family building permits, which is an indicator of future demand, rose 3.0 percent in April and 27.5 percent over the past 12 months to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 617,000 permits.
  • 05.13.2013
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales rose at a nonannualized rate of 0.1 percent in April after falling in March and January. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales increased 3.7 percent. Auto sales increased 1.0 percent in April after decreasing −0.6 percent in March. Excluding autos, retail sales fell 0.1 percent on a monthly basis indicating that auto sales contributed to April’s uptick in overall retail sales. After posting widespread declines last month, segments in April were much more mixed. At −4.7 percent, gasoline stations continued to drag down headline retail sales. Building materials (up 1.5 percent), clothing and accessories (up 1.2 percent), and nonstore retailers (up 1.4 percent) were several sources of strength. A less volatile indicator of sales growth, “core” retail sales (which excludes sales of autos, building supplies, and gas stations) increased 0.5 percent in April after increasing 0.1 percent in March. On a yearly basis, core retails sales are up 3.7 percent.
  • 05.07.2013
  • Consumer Credit
  • In March, outstanding consumer credit increased at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 3.4 percent to $2,808 billion, adding an eighth month to a string of positive reports. This preliminary increase is slower than February?s upwardly revised increase of 8 percent, and leaves the year-over-year figure at 5.9 percent. Revolving credit fell by 2.4 percent, while nonrevolving credit, which mainly reflects student and auto loans, rose by 6 percent. During the first quarter, consumer credit increased at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.75 percent. Revolving credit was little changed, while nonrevolving credit increased at an annual rate of 8 percent.
  • 04.30.2013
  • Home Price Indexes
  • In February, the S&P Case-Shiller housing price indexes rose 0.4 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively for the 10- and 20-city composites. Cities like Atlanta and Phoenix, which are still recovering from a wave of recent foreclosures, showed strong double-digit annual gains, as well as Tampa and San Diego which posted their first ever double-digit annual gains. Annually, the 10-city composite was up by 8.6 percent and the 20-city composite was up by 9.3 percent. All 20 cities have posted annual improvements over the last two months and the February report marks the largest annual increase for both composites since May 2006. Overall, the home prices appear to be improving and are now back to fall of 2003 levels.

    The FHFA housing price index rose 0.7 percent from January to February and is up 7.1 percent over the past 12 months. Regionally, all areas made moderate monthly gains except for the Mid-Atlantic, which fell 0.6 percent, and also posted the smallest annual growth rate which ranged from increases of 1.9 percent to a 15.3 percent in the Pacific. The index has now improved to being 13.6 percent below its April 2007 peak and is back to late 2004 price levels.

  • 04.29.2013
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.2 percent in March, following a 1.1 percent increase in February, and a 3.6 percent decline in January. The large decline in January was primarily due to changes in taxes and pay being pulled forward into the end of 2012. On a year-over-year basis, nominal personal income has increased 2.5 percent. Disposable personal income (nominal personal income less current taxes) increased 0.2 percent in March as well, and has increased 2.1 percent since March of last year. After controlling for price changes, real disposable personal income increased 0.3 percent for the month. This follows changes of −4.1 percent and 0.7 percent in January and February, respectively, and over the past twelve months, real DPI has increased 1.1 percent. Real personal consumption expenditures increased 0.3 percent, following increases of 0.2 and 0.3 percent in the prior two months. Consumption has gained some positive momentum recently, as it has increased each of the last five months. The year-over-year increase of 2.2 percent is the largest 12-month improvement in consumption since October of 2011. The increase in March was driven entirely by services consumption, which increased 0.6 percent. Goods consumption declined 0.3 percent, with durable good goods consumption remaining basically flat and nondurable goods consumption declining 0.4 percent. On a year-over-year basis, goods consumption has increased 2.5 percent and services consumption has increased 2.0 percent. The personal savings rate held steady at 2.7 percent.
  • 04.26.2013
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Final numbers show that The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment has risen to 76.4 from the preliminary number, 72.3, posted earlier in April. Both of the components, Current Economic Conditions and the Index of Consumer Expectations, contributed to the intramonth gain.

    As for inflation expectations, consumers now expect a year-ahead inflation rate of 3.1 percent and a longer-term (five- to ten-year) rate of 2.9 percent. Both of these numbers have risen by 0.1 percentage point during the month.

  • 04.23.2013
  • New Home Sales
  • The sale of new single-family homes rose 1.5 percent in March and has advanced 18.5 percent since last March to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 417,000 units sold. The Western region posted the largest monthly decline in new homes sales, falling 20.9 percent, while also posting the largest annual increase of 37.5 percent. The median sales price of new single family homes fell 6.8 percent for the month, but rose 3.0 percent annually to $247,000. The inventory of new homes for sale rose 5.5 percent annually to 153,000 units for sale which represents a 4.4 month supply at the current sales pace.
  • 04.22.2013
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales slipped 0.2 percent in March to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 4.3 million units sold, representing a 9.1 percent improvement over the past 12 months. Regionally, all areas made strong to moderate annual gains while the monthly pace of sales ranged from a 2.8 percent decline in the West to a 1.9 percent increase in the Midwest. The median sales price of existing single-family homes rose 6.7 percent over the month and 12.1 percent annually to $185,100, which is the highest level since August. The inventory and monthly supply of existing single-family homes made slight improvements for the month—up 2.4 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively—but continue to post sharp annual declines, down 16.3 percent and 23.0 percent.
  • 04.16.2013
  • Housing Starts
  • The groundbreaking of single-family homes fell 4.8 percent in March to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 619,000 units started, but are up 28.7 percent compared to this time last year. Regionally, the Northeast experienced the sharpest declines, down 32.8 percent for the month, and 4.4 percent since March 2012. The authorization of single-family home construction dipped 0.5 percent in March to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 595,000 units, which is an increase of 27.7 percent over the past 12 months. The completion of new single-family home construction rose to 2.6 percent for the month and 34.8 percent annually to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 593,000 units at the current pace. Overall single-family housing construction appears to be on the upswing and is back to mid-2008 levels.
  • 04.12.2013
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales decreased at a nonannualized rate of 0.4 percent in March and year-over-year retail sales are up 2.8 percent. Auto sales decrease 0.5 percent in March, following an increase in February of 1.3 percent. Excluding autos, retail sales decreased 0.4 percent, over the past 12 months. Retail sales excluding autos are up 2.0 percent. Declines were widespread across segments: gasoline stations (down 2.2 percent), electronics and appliance stores (down 1.6 percent), and general merchandise stores (down 1.2 percent). Gains were seen in furniture stores (up 0.9 percent), restaurants (up 0.8 percent) and non-store retailers (up 0.3 percent). A less volatile indicator of sales growth, “core” retail sales (which excludes sales of autos, building supplies, and gas stations) decreased 0.3 percent in March, and are up 2.1 percent on a year-over-year basis.
  • 04.12.2013
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Preliminary numbers show that The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment slipped to 72.3 in early April from a slightly upwardly revised 78.6 in March. According to the release, unlike in past economic cycles when consumers viewed lower or stagnating incomes as a temporary departure from more favorable long term trends, consumers are now more likely to anticipate lower permanent after-tax incomes. Two topics continue to dominate the news heard and recalled by consumers. The most common are developments in jobs, on which consumers reported slightly more job losses than job gains in early April. The other topic involved negative references to government economic policies. In fact, references to all branches of the government have been more negative for a longer time (five months) than ever recorded. Consumers’ assessments of their own financial situation slipped in early April. Reports of recent after-tax income gains fell to a nine month low as 40 percent of all consumers reported that they were worse off financially than a year ago. Moreover, just 22 percent of all consumers in early April expected their financial situation to improve in the year ahead, barely above the all-time low of 20 percent last recorded in 2011.

    As for inflation expectations in early April, consumers expected a year-ahead inflation rate of 3.0 percent and a longer-term (5- to 10-year) rate of 2.8 percent.

  • 03.29.2013
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income increased at a nonannualized rate of 1.1 percent in February, which follows a 2.6 percent increase in December and a 3.7 percent decline in January. The large movements over those prior two months were primarily due to anticipation and implementation of tax changes at the beginning of the year. Over the past twelve months, nominal personal income is up 2.7 percent. There was not much influence of changing taxes on income in February as disposable personal income (personal income less current taxes) also increased 1.1 percent. After controlling for price changes, real disposable personal income increased 0.7 percent for the month and has increased 0.9 percent on a year-over-year basis. While there has been more variation in monthly income changes recently due to tax changes and other factors, income has averaged monthly increases of 0.7 percent since the beginning of the fourth quarter of last year, which is in line with longer-term trends. Real personal consumption expenditures increased 0.3 percent in February, following increases of 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent in December and January, respectively, and have increased 2.0 percent since February of 2012. The near-term (three-month) trend in monthly consumption growth is at 0.3 percent, which is similar to the trend in monthly changes over the past year. During February, goods consumption improved 0.3 percent, which was primarily driven by consumption of nondurable goods (up 0.5 percent) and services consumption increased 0.3 percent as well. The personal savings rate ticked up from 2.2 to 2.6 percent.
  • 03.29.2013
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment rose sharply in the second half of March, erasing the entire decline in the first half of the month. Hearkening back to the “trend-bending” preliminary results of earlier this month, the difference between the preliminary and final estimates is by far the largest ever recorded. Heretofore at 71.8, the Index has been revised to 78.6. Two factors appear to have caused the sudden upward revisions in both of the Index’s components (Current Conditions and Expectations): consumers have discounted the ominous predictions about the effects of the reductions in federal spending, and consumers have renewed their expectation that gains in employment will accelerate through the rest of the year.
  • 03.15.2013
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Preliminary numbers show that The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment dropped to 71.8 in early March from a slightly upwardly revised 77.6 in February. This release was peppered with trend-bending results. For starters, the fewest consumers in decades anticipated that their finances would improve during the year ahead, as evidenced by an 11-point drop in the index’s Expected Personal Finances component. Also, unlike the more favorable employment prospects that consumers held over the past year, they now expect net increases in the national unemployment rate. This is reflected in the drop in the Economic Outlook component from 87 to 70. In addition, just 20 percent of surveyed consumers expected their financial situation to improve during the year ahead. This was the lowest figure ever recorded, matching the lows first recorded in 1979 and 1980. When asked about the outlook for their finances over the next five years, just 33 percent of all consumers expected to be better off, the lowest level ever recorded. Finally, a new all-time record number of consumers made unfavorable references to government economic policies when they were asked to describe in their own words what economic news they had recently heard. In early March, 34 percent made unfavorable references to government economic policies, up from the prior record of 31 percent in January.

    As for inflation expectations, consumers in early March expected a year-ahead inflation rate of 3.3 percent and a longer-term (5- to 10-year) rate of 2.9 percent.

  • 03.13.2013
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales increased at a nonannualized rate of 1.1 percent in February, year-over-year retail sales are up 4.6 percent. Auto sales increased 1.1 percent in February, following a decrease in January of 0.4 percent. Excluding autos, retail sales increased 1.0 percent, over the past 12 months. Retail sales excluding autos are up 3.9 percent. Contributing to the monthly gain in total sales were improvements for gasoline stations (up 5.0 percent), miscellaneous store retailers (up 1.8 percent), non-store retailers (up 1.6 percent), and grocery stores (up 0.7 percent). Gasoline station sales increased due to high gasoline prices and contributed nearly half of the growth in total sales, retail sales excluding gasoline station sales rose just 0.6 percent. Sectors that saw the largest declines in February were furniture and home furnishing stores (down 1.6 percent), sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (down 1.0 percent), and food service and drinking places (down 0.7 percent). A less volatile indicator of sales growth, “core” retail sales (which excludes sales of autos, building supplies, and gas stations) increased 0.4 percent in February, and are up 3.8 percent on a year-over-year basis.
  • 03.07.2013
  • Consumer Credit
  • In the first month of 2013, outstanding consumer credit increased at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 7.0 percent to $2,795 billion, adding a sixth month to a string of positive reports. Turning to the reported changes in the components of the headline number, revolving credit rose at an annual rate of 0.2 percent, and nonrevolving credit, which mainly reflects student and auto loans, increased at an annual rate of 10.0 percent. The current data release carries a revision to December’s preliminary headline number: consumer credit rose by 6.6 percent instead of the previously reported 6.3 percent.
  • 03.01.2013
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income decreased at a nonannualized rate of 3.6 percent in January, following increases of 1.0 and 2.6 percent in November and December, respectively. The release discusses two primary reasons for January’s decline. Accelerated bonuses were paid in December in anticipation of changes in the tax structure, which inflated wage and salary disbursements, and consequently overall personal income, during that month. Additionally, the expiration of the payroll tax holiday increased contributions to government social insurance, which is subtracted from overall personal income. On a year-over-year basis, nominal personal income has increased 2.2 percent. Disposable personal income (DPI)— personal income less current taxes—decreased at a nonannualized rate of 4.0 percent during January and has increased 1.8 percent since January of 2012. However, the Bureau of Economic Analysis mentions that if those special factors are excluded, DPI likely would have increased 0.3 percent in January, compared with a similar 0.3 percent increase in December.

    After controlling for price changes, “real” disposable personal income also decreased 4.0 percent, following increases of 1.2 and 2.7 percent in the prior two months, and has increased just 0.6 percent since last year. Real personal consumption expenditures increased 0.1 percent in January following a similar increase in December. This is just slightly below average monthly gains of 0.2 percent throughout 2012, and on a year-over-year basis, consumption is up 2.0 percent. During January, consumption of durable goods fell 0.8 percent, while consumption of nondurable goods and services both increased 0.3 percent. Given the large drop in DPI and modest gain in consumption, the savings rate dropped from 6.4 percent in December to 2.4 percent in January.

  • 02.26.2013
  • New Home Sales
  • Sales of new single-family homes rose 15.6 percent in January and 28.9 percent over the past 12 months to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 437,000 units sold. Regionally, all areas posted positive gains both monthly and annually with the West leading in both, up 45.3 percent and 60.3 percent, respectively. The median sales price of new single-family homes fell sharply, down 9.3 percent to $226,400 to the lowest level since last January. The available inventory of new homes for sale was 150,000, which is a 4.1 month supply the current sales pace.
  • 02.21.2013
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales rose 0.2 percent in January and 8.5 percent over the past 12 months to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 4.34 million units sold. Regionally, existing home sales made moderate improvements both monthly and annually in all areas except the West, down 5.6 percent where inventories are most constrained. The median sales price fell slightly to $174,100 (down 3.4 percent) but is up 12.6 percent from this time last year. The monthly supply and inventories of homes continue to post sharp annual declines at the current sales pace, down 30.6 percent and 25.5 percent respectively, which is now transitioning the industry into a sellers’ market in many areas throughout the country.
  • 02.15.2013
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment improved in early February, rising from an index level of 73.8 in January to 76.3, but is still below its recent high of 82.7 in November 2012. Gains were seen in both the current conditions and expectations components in February. Respondents’ judgment of current economic conditions improved 3.0 points to 88.0 in February, consistent with its level in 2012:Q3, but a little below its fourth-quarter level. The consumer expectations index rose 2.1 points to 68.7, though that is still roughly ten points below its recent cyclical high last October. Interestingly, the release noted that there was a sharp rebound in sentiment among households with incomes below $75,000, despite an all-time record number of consumers that expect their inflation-adjusted incomes to fall in the year ahead. The median respondent’s expectation for inflation over the year ahead remained at 3.3 percent in February. However, the longer-term (five- to ten-year) ahead median expectation edged up 0.1 percentage points to 3.0 percent during the month.
  • 02.07.2013
  • Consumer Credit
  • In the last month of 2012, outstanding consumer credit increased at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 6.3 percent to $2,778 billion, adding a fifth month to the string of positive reports. Looking now at changes in the components of the headline number, revolving credit fell at an annual rate of 5.1 percent, while nonrevolving credit increased at an annual rate of 11.5 percent (the greatest gain since January of last year). The current data release carries a revision to November’s preliminary change in revolving credit: it rose by 0.8 percent instead of 1.1 percent.
  • 02.01.2013
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment was revised up in late January—from an index level of 71.3 to 73.8—and is now a little above December’s level of 72.9, but still well off its recent cyclical high of 82.7 set last November. The bulk of the upward revision to Sentiment came from the consumers’ expectations component, which was revised up from 62.7 to 66.6 in late January, an improvement over December’s 63.8 level. Respondents’ assessments of the current conditions were roughly unchanged at 84.8, 2.2 points below December’s level. While the release neglected to note where the impetus for the upward revision came from, it did note the continued dichotomy between households with incomes above and below $75,000, with the upper income respondents becoming more optimistic and the lower income households becoming more pessimistic. The median respondent’s expectation for inflation over the year ahead was revised down 0.1 percentage point to 3.3 percent in late January, but that’s still a tenth above December’s response. Longer-term (5- to 10-year) ahead expectations remained at 2.9 percent in January and unchanged from the previous month.
  • 01.31.2013
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income jumped 2.6 percent (nonannualized) in December, following increases of 1.0 percent in November (revised up from 0.6 percent) and 0.1 percent October. The large increase was primarily due to “"accelerated bonus payments and other irregular pay in private wages and salaries in anticipation of changes in individual income tax rates,” as stated by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Also impacting income in December were lump sum social security benefit payments. Disposable personal income (DPI)—personal income less current taxes—increased 2.7 percent in December. This follows increases of 0.1 and 1.0 percent in October and November, respectively, and on a year-over-year basis, DPI is up 7.0 percent. Additionally, the BEA mentioned that without those additional factors stated above, DPI would have increased just 0.4 percent in December. After controlling for price changes, “real” disposable personal income increased 2.8 percent during the month. This helped to pull the current near-term (three-month) trend in “real” DPI growth up from 0.4 percent to 1.3 percent, and over the past year “real” disposable personal income has increased 5.6 percent. “Real” personal consumption expenditures increased 0.2 percent during December, after an increase of 0.6 percent in November and a 0.2 percent decline in October. Consumption averaged monthly increases of 0.2 percent during the fourth quarter of last year, which is similar to the third quarter trend. Over the past year, consumption has increased 2.2 percent. Consumption of goods increased 0.6 percent in December following an increase of 1.0 percent in November, and services consumption increased 0.1 percent in December after increasing 0.4 percent in the prior month. The jump in income compared with the modest increase in consumption caused the personal savings rate to increase from 4.1 percent in November to 6.5 percent in December.
  • 01.29.2013
  • Home Price Indexes
  • In November the S&P Case-Shiller 10- and 20-city housing price indexes posted respective annual increases of 4.5 percent and 5.5 percent, and monthly declines of 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent. Annual figures where stronger in 19 cities in November when compared to October, and ten cities showed monthly gains in November compared to only seven in October. New York was the only city to post an annual decline in November, Cleveland was flat, and Phoenix led with an increase of 22.8 percent over the past 12-months, which is its seventh consecutive month of double-digit returns. While the winter months are typically a period of weakness in the housing market, strong annual returns suggest a growing momentum within the housing market, and national home prices are back to fall 2003 levels.

    From October to November the FHFA housing price index ticked up 0.6 percent to an index level of 192.2, representing a 5.6 percent increase since last November and the highest index level since May 2010. Regionally, all areas posted moderate annual gains and only two areas posted monthly declines: East North Central, down 1.0 percent and East South Central, down 0.4 percent. The Mountain division showed the strongest improvements to home prices both monthly and annually, up 2.1 percent and 14.8 percent, respectively. Overall, national home prices are back to mid-2004 index levels.

  • 01.25.2013
  • New Home Sales
  • The pace of new single-family home sales fell 7.3 percent from November to December, but have risen 8.8 percent since December 2011 to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 369,000 units. Regionally, the Northeast experienced the sharpest monthly decline of 29.4 percent, but also the largest annual increase of 20.0 percent. The monthly supply of new single-family homes rose to a 4.9 month supply at the current sales pace. Meanwhile the median sales price rose 1.3 percent for the month and 13.8 percent over the past 12-months. Overall, there were an estimated 367,000 new single-family homes sold throughout 2012, which is a 19.9 percent increase above the 2011 figure of 306,000 units.
  • 01.15.2013
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales increased 0.5 percent in December, following a 0.4 percent increase in November. A significant chunk of that growth over the past two months has been driven by autos sales. Excluding autos, retail sales increased 0.3 percent in December and fell 0.1 percent in November. Still, over the past 12 months, the growth rate in overall sales (up 4.7 percent) is outpacing the ex-autos trend (4.1 percent). Elsewhere, sales growth was evident across nearly all broad categories. The two exceptions are sales at gasoline stations (down 1.6 percent and likely price-related), and a 0.6 percent decline in sales at electronics and appliance stores. However, the decline in electronics and appliance store sales comes on the heels of a sharp 2.3 percent gain in November and is probably more a signal of unusual holiday shopping patterns than anything else. A less volatile indicator of sales strength, “core” retail sales (which excludes sales of autos, building supplies, and gas stations) jumped up 0.6 percent in December, following a similarly strong 0.5 percent increase in November. The recent strength in the near-term growth trajectory in core sales is evident in its three-month annualized growth rate, which has improved from 2.0 percent back in August to 4.3 percent as of December. This reversal of some mid-year weakness has help bring the near-term trajectory back in line with its 12-month growth rate of 4.5 percent, in and of itself, a sign of continued momentum.
  • 01.08.2013
  • Consumer Credit
  • In November, total consumer credit increased at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 7.0 percent, bringing total consumer credit outstanding to $2,768.5 billion. Revolving credit increased at an annual rate of 1.1 percent, while nonrevolving credit increased at an annual rate of 9.6 percent, led by borrowing for students loans and autos. The current data release carries no significant revisions to October’s preliminary numbers.
  • 12.21.2012
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income increased at a non-annualized rate of 0.6 percent in November, and has increased 4.1 percent over the last twelve months. The improvement in November follows increases of 0.4 and 0.1 percent in September and October, respectively. Disposable personal income (DPI)—personal income less current taxes—increased 0.6 percent in November as well, following increases of 0.4 percent in September and 0.1 percent in October, and is up 4.0 percent since last year. After controlling for price changes, “real” disposable personal income increased 0.8 percent during the month, which is the largest one-month improvement since January 2011. This month’s release also included revisions to the third quarter estimates, which showed that real disposable personal income was essentially flat from July through September. However, the current three-month average growth rate is at 0.3 percent, largely due to the November increase. On a year-over-year basis, “real” DPI is up 2.5 percent, the highest twelve month increase since March of last year. “Real” personal consumption expenditures increased 0.6 percent in November, following a 0.2 percent decline in October, and have increased 2.1 percent over the past twelve months. During November, consumption of durable goods increased 2.6 percent, while consumption of both non-durable goods and services both increased 0.3 percent. The current near-term (three-month) average growth rate in consumption is at 0.3 percent, similar to a 0.2 percent average improvement during the third quarter. As a percentage of disposable personal income, the personal savings rate increased from 3.4 percent in October to 3.6 percent in November.
  • 12.21.2012
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment was revised lower in December, and is now estimated to have fallen to an index level of 72.9, nearly ten points below November’s recent cyclical high. The overall decline in sentiment was driven almost entirely by a drop in consumers’ expectations—from 77.6 in November to 63.8 in December—reportedly as respondents became increasingly concerned over the looming fiscal cliff. The current conditions component edged down slightly during the month (from 90.7 to 87.0), though it ended the year up 7.4 points. In December, the median respondent’s expectation over the next year is for inflation to rise 3.2 percent, up 0.1 percentage point from November. Over the longer-term (Five-to-ten years ahead), the median inflation expectation is for an increase of 2.9 percent, up 0.1 percentage point from last month, but remaining within its “normal” range of 2.7 to 3.0 percent that it has oscillated around throughout the past few years.
  • 12.20.2012
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales rose 5.5 percent in November and 12.4 percent over the past 12 months to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 4.4 million units. The median price of existing homes ticked up 2 percent during the month and 10.1 percent since last November. Meanwhile, the available housing stock and monthly supply of existing homes continue to decline sharply at the current sales pace. On an annual basis the inventory of existing single-family homes fell 22.7 percent to 1.8 million units for sale and the monthly supply of homes has fallen 31 percent to a 4.9 month supply. Overall, sales are at the highest level since November 2009 when the annual pace spiked at 5.44 million.
  • 12.19.2012
  • Housing Starts
  • New residential construction starts fell 4.1 percent in November to a seasonally-adjusted rate of 565,000 units after reaching the highest monthly growth rate since 2008 in October. Over the past 12 months, housing starts have risen 22.8 percent, which was driven mainly by strong gains in the West and Midwest regions. The authorization of single-family build permits, a sign of future demand, fell 0.2 percent from October to November, but have risen 25.3 percent since this time last year to a seasonally-adjusted rate of 565,000 permits. While the construction of new residential homes is making significant strides, it is still well below the peak of 2.3 million in 2006.
  • 12.07.2012
  • Consumer Credit
  • In October, total consumer credit increased at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 6.2 percent to bring total credit outstanding to $2,753.5 billion. Revolving credit increased at an annual rate of 4.7 percent, while nonrevolving credit increased at an annual rate of 6.9 percent. Revisions to preliminary numbers show that total consumer credit rose in September by 5.4 percent rather than 5 percent, an upward revision to the drop in revolving credit (to −3.1 percent from −4.1 percent) caused this change.
  • 12.07.2012
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment preliminary December level fell 8.2 percentage points from its November five year high of 82.7 to 74.5. Current economic conditions saw a smaller decrease of 0.8 points from 90.7 to 89.9, although this is still a post-recession high excluding November. The expectations component saw the largest decline of 13 points from 77.6 to 64.6, reaching a new one year low. One-year-ahead inflation expectations increased 0.2 percent from 3.1 percent to 3.3 percent, and consumer&rsquoo;s expectations of long term inflation over the next five years increased 0.1 percent to 2.9 percent. Long-term inflation expectations have remained within the 2.7 to 3.0 percent range throughout the past few years.
  • 11.30.2012
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income was flat in October, following increases of 0.1 percent in August and 0.4 percent in September. Since last year, nominal income has increased 3.1 percent, a slight drop off from September’s 12-month growth rate of 3.5 percent. Disposable personal income (DPI)—personal income less current taxes—was also flat during October, and has increased 3.0 percent on a year-over-year basis. After controlling for price changes, “real” disposable personal income fell 0.1 percent for the month. This follows no change in “real” DPI during September, and a 0.3 percent decline in August. Over the past twelve months, “real” disposable personal income has increased 1.2 percent, which is slightly below the third quarter average 12-month growth rate of 1.6 percent, but still better than average growth rates of 0.2 percent and 1.1 percent during the first and second quarter, respectively. In the release, the Bureau of Economic Analysis also mentions that there was some downward pressure on October’s income numbers due to work interruptions related to Hurricane Sandy. This had the effect of reducing private wage and salary disbursements, which declined 0.3 percent during the month. “Real” personal consumption expenditures declined 0.3 percent in October, which follows an increase of 0.4 percent in September. Over the past twelve months, consumption has increased 1.3 percent, which is marks the smallest year-over-year improvement since August of 2010. Consumption of durable goods declined 1.7 percent and nondurable goods consumption decreased 0.3 percent in October, both contributing to the monthly decline in the overall number, while consumption of services remained basically flat.
  • 11.27.2012
  • Home Price Indexes
  • The S&P Case-Shiller National Home Composite index rose 3.6 percent in the third quarter of 2012 versus the third quarter of 2011, and was up 2.2 percent compared to the second quarter of 2011—this marks the sixth consecutive month of increasing prices. In September, the 10- and 20-city composites showed annual improvements of 2.1 percent and 3.0 percent. On a monthly basis, prices edged up 0.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively for the 10- and 20-city composites, which is the eighth consecutive month that both indexes have risen. Eighteen of the MSAs saw positive annual returns, while fifteen cities saw positive monthly increases. Cleveland was amongst the cites which posted monthly declines, down 0.9 percent, but remains up 1.4 percent compared to this time last year. Nationally, prices are back to their mid-2003 levels.

    The FHFA Housing price index rose a seasonally adjusted 1.1 percent from the second to third quarter of this year. Compared to the third quarter of 2011 homes prices rose 4.0 percent; however, after adjusting for inflation home prices increased just 2.5 percent. On a monthly basis, home prices edged up 0.2 percent. Throughout the nation, annual price changes continue to show the strongest improvements in the Mountain region, up 10.3 percent, and the weakest in the New England region, down 0.5 percent. Overall the September index level is now back to mid-2004 levels.

  • 11.21.2012
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment were revised down from an index level of 84.9 to 82.7 in November. Despite the downward nudge, sentiment is still at its highest level in five years. Respondents’ collective judgment on current economic conditions was revised down from 91.3 to 90.7 in November and remains at a post-recession high. The expectations component, which has risen sharply from a recent low of 65.1 in August, was revised down from 80.8 to 77.6 in late November. Median one-year ahead inflation expectations were revised up 0.1 percentage point to 3.1 percent in November, now unchanged from October’s level and down 0.5 percentage points from its recent high. Five- to ten-year ahead expectations were unrevised at 2.8 percent, remaining within its normal range of 2.7 percent to 3.1 percent over the past five years or so.
  • 11.14.2012
  • Retail Sales
  • Nominal retail sales slipped down 0.3 percent in October, retreating slightly after two consecutive monthly gains of more than 1.0 percent. The Census Bureau released a set of FAQs alongside the report pertaining to the effects Hurricane Sandy may have had on the estimates. They noted that the effects of the hurricane could not be isolated in the survey, but they received anecdotal evidence of both positive and negative effects on the retail sales data. According to the FAQs, the response rate for the survey (2,579) was within its normal range, and while the response rate for firms in the affected area was weaker than usual, many larger firms with locations in the affected area included responses. All that said, the slight decline in October was not statistically significant (the 90 percent C.I. is plus or minus 0.5 percent). Cross-category performance was mixed during the month. Gasoline stations were the strongest category in October, rising 1.4 percent, while the sharpest sales declines were felt at building material, garden equipment, and supplies stores (down 1.9 percent). “Core” retail sales (excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations) slipped down 0.1 percent following a 0.9 percent gain in September. Over the past three months, core sales are trending at an annualized rate of 2.5 percent, roughly on par with its year-over-year growth rate of 3.0 percent.
  • 11.09.2012
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment continued to march upward, rising from an index level of 82.6 in October to 84.9 in early November. Sentiment has now jumped roughly 10 points in the past 3 months and has vaulted up to a five-year high. Interestingly, the release noted that November’s increase was exclusively driven by households with incomes above $75,000. The expectations component, which has risen nearly 16 points from a recent low of 65.1 in August, ticked up from 79 to 80.8 in November. Respondents’ collective judgment on current economic conditions improved in November, rising 3.2 points to 91.3, but that was only reversing some transitory weakness in September. The index is only up 2.6 points from its level in August. Median one-year ahead inflation expectations continued to edge away from a recent high of 3.6 percent in August, ticking down 0.1 percentage point to 3.0 percent in November. Five- to ten-year ahead expectations rebounded a tenth to 2.8 percent during the month, remaining within its normal range of 2.7 percent to 3.1 percent over the past 5 years or so.
  • 11.07.2012
  • Consumer Credit
  • The current consumer credit release publishes preliminary numbers not only for the month of September but also for the third quarter of 2012. In September, total consumer credit increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.0 percent, a slight slowdown in view of the upwardly revised corresponding figure for August: 8.2 percent. That 5.0 percent is the net result of a 4.1 percent decline in revolving credit and a 9.2 percent increase in nonrevolving credit. In the third quarter, total consumer credit increased at an annual rate of 4.0 percent. Revolving credit decreased at an annual rate of 1.6 percent, while nonrevolving credit increased 6.6 percent. All three figures are lower than the corresponding figures from the second quarter, headlined by a 2.5 percentage point decline in total consumer credit.
  • 10.29.2012
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.4 percent in September and is up 3.9 percent over the past twelve months. This follows monthly increases of 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent in July and August, respectively. Disposable personal income (DPI)—personal income less current taxes—also increased 0.4 percent for the month, following increases of 0.2 percent in July and 0.1 percent in August, and is up 3.6 percent since last year. Despite the September improvement in DPI, after controlling for price changes, “real” disposable personal income was flat for the month following a drop of 0.3 percent in August. Growth in “real” DPI slowed during the third quarter, as the average monthly growth rate from July through September was −0.1 percent compared with an average of 0.4 percent during the first quarter of this year, and 0.3 percent during the second quarter. However, over the last twelve months, “real” DPI has increased 1.9 percent, the largest year-over-year improvement since March of 2011. After gains of 0.3 percent in July and 0.1 percent in August, “real” personal consumption expenditures increased at a rate of 0.4 percent in September, and are up 2.1 percent since September of 2011. Leading the gains in the overall “real” PCE measure was consumption of durable goods, which increased 1.3 percent, compared with an improvement of 0.5 percent in the consumption of non-durables and 0.2 percent in services consumption. The near-term (three-month) trend in consumption growth has improved over the last few months as it has increased from 0.1 percent in July and August to 0.3 percent. Since consumption grew faster than income in September, this resulted in 0.4 percentage points drop in the personal savings rate (personal savings as a percentage of disposable income) from 3.7 percent to 3.3 percent.
  • 10.19.2012
  • Existing Home Sales
  • From August to September, existing single-family home sales fell 1.9 percent. But over the past 12 months, they have increased 10.8 percent to an annualized rate of 4.21 million units sold. Regionally, existing single-family home sales in September ranged from no change in the South to a 7.7 percent decline in the Northeast. The median sales price of existing single-family was $184,300, a slight decline of 0.65 percent on the month, but an 11.4 percent increase since this time last year. The inventory and monthly supply of existing single-family homes both showed moderate decline on a monthly basis and have fallen 18.1 percent and 26.6 percent, respectively on an annual basis.

  • 10.12.2012
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment jumped up from an index level of 78.3 in September to 83.1 in October, and is now at its highest level since September 2007. Sharp back-to-back gains in the consumer expectations component (up 8.4 points in September and 6.0 points in October) helped push the overall index to a post-recession high. Respondents’ collective judgment on current economic conditions improved in October, rising 2.9 points to 88.6, roughly reversing a 3.0 point decline in September. That said, the current conditions component is up markedly (+13.7 points) from October of last year. Both short- and long-run inflation expectations ticked down in October. Median one-year ahead inflation expectations slipped from 3.3 percent to 3.1 percent during the month, while five-to-ten year ahead expectations dipped down from 2.8 percent to 2.6 percent. to its lowest level since the depths of the financial crisis.
  • 10.05.2012
  • Consumer Credit
  • In August, total consumer credit more than regained the slight dip it sustained between June and July, rising 8 percent on an annualized basis. Both revolving and nonrevolving credit drove the increase in August: revolving credit increased by 5.9 percent and nonrevolving credit increased by 9 percent. These increases leave total consumer credit outstanding at $2,726 billion, and upward revisions to the previously published numbers for June and July bring those months’ figures to $2,710 billion and $2,707.5 billion, respectively.
  • 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.
  • 09.14.2012
  • 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.
  • 09.10.2012
  • 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.
  • 08.31.2012
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment was revised up from a level of 73.6 to 74.3 during the August revision, its highest level since May, though it is still moderately below its second quarter average of 76.3. The upward revision was largely due to an upward adjustment to respondents’ assessment of the current conditions (up from 87.6 to 88.7), and virtually all the traction in overall sentiment over the past few months is due to gains in this component. Consumer expectations were revised up from 64.5 to 65.1 in August, though that is still slightly below their reading in July of 65.6. Importantly, expectations have decreased in each of the last three months and are down almost 10 points relative to their May reading. Inflation expectations were unrevised during the August revision, but up sharply from June. Median short-run (one-year ahead) inflation expectations jumped up from 3.0 percent in July to 3.6 percent in August, the series’ sharpest increase since a gasoline price induced spike to 3.9 percent in March. And, longer-term (five-years ahead) inflation expectations rose from 2.7 percent to 3.0 percent.
  • 08.30.2012
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income increased at a rate of 0.3 percent (nonannualized) in July, and is up 3.6 percent since July of last year. This follows an increase of 0.3 percent (downwardly-revised) in June, and is in line with the average growth rate throughout the second quarter. Disposable personal income—personal income less current taxes—increased at a rate of 0.3 percent as well, and is up 3.4 percent on a year-over-year basis. There was very little price pressure on the headline number as “real” disposable personal income (DPI after controlling for price changes) was also up 0.3 percent for the month. The year-over-year change in “real” DPI reached 2.1 percent, its highest level since March of 2011, and has accelerated a bit since the beginning of the year. The 3-month trend in year-over-year growth was 1.7 percent in July, compared with a first quarter trend of 0.2 percent and a second quarter trend of 1.3 percent. After being flat in May and slightly negative in June (down 0.1 percent), “real” personal consumption expenditures was back in positive territory, increasing 0.4 percent for the month. Consumption has increased 2.0 percent since July of 2011, which is roughly in line with the average second quarter growth rate of 1.9 percent. Personal savings was down 1.9 percent in July, following increases of 13.1 percent in May and 7.8 percent in June.
  • 08.28.2012
  • Home Price Indexes
  • The S&P Case-Shiller national housing price index rose a seasonally-adjusted 2.25 percent from the first to second quarter of this year, representing the largest quarterly increase since 2005:Q4. On an annual basis the national index expanded by 1.13 percent, the largest improvement since 2010:Q2. Both the 10- and 20-city monthly composite indexes showed positive growth for the second consecutive month and were up 1.01 percent and 0.94 percent, respectively. Over the past 12-months the 10- and 20-city indexes were relatively flat and are back to mid-2003 levels. This report marks the first time since the summer of 2010 that all three indexes showed positive annual growth rates.

    The FHFA purchase-only housing price index rose 0.7 percent from May to June to an index level of 189.8. Over the past 12-months the index rose 3.7 percent, representing the largest annual gain since September 2006. Throughout the nation, annual price index changes ranged from an 11.1 percent increase in the Mountain region to a 0.4 percent decrease in both the New England and Middle Atlantic regions. On a quarterly basis the national purchase-only index rose 1.8 percent from the first to second quarter, marking the largest increase since 2010:Q4. Overall the June index is back to the June 2004 index level. This report also notes that strong appreciation in fewer distress sales in certain markets as well as declining mortgage rates likely accounts for the strong housing price increase.

  • 08.23.2012
  • New Home Sales
  • After an upward revision to June’s report, new single-family home sales rose 3.6 percent in July to an annualized rate of 372,000 units sold. Regionally, new home sales ranged from a 76.5 percent increase in the Northeast to a 1.6 percent decline in the South. Over the past 12-months, overall new home sales rose by 25.3 percent which is the largest annual gain since February. The median sales price of new homes fell 2.1 percent in July to $224,200, representing a 4.6 month supply at the current sales pace.
  • 08.22.2012
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales rose 2.1 percent in July to an annualized 3.98 million units sold. Regionally, monthly home sales ranged from a 6.7 percent increase in the Northeast to a 1.0 percent decline in the West. On an annual basis, overall home sales rose 9.9 percent and showed positive growth in all regions. The median sales price of existing single-family homes fell 0.8 percent in July to $188,100, representing a 9.6 percent increase over the past 12-months. The inventory of available single-family homes for sale was flat for the month at 2.1 million units, while the monthly supply of homes fell 3.1 percent to a 6.3 month supply at the current sales pace.
  • 08.17.2012
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment rose from an index level of 72.3 in July to 73.6 in early August, its highest level since May, though it is still moderately below its second quarter average of 76.3. Virtually all the traction in overall sentiment over the past few months is due to gains in the current conditions component, which jumped up 4.9 points to 87.6 in August. Consumer expectations have decreased in each of the last three months and are down almost 10 points relative to their May reading after slipping further in August to 64.5. For context, the average level for consumer expectations over the past 25 years is 80. Interestingly, consumers appear to be reacting to recent reports that severe drought conditions are going to increase food prices over the coming year. Median short-run (one-year ahead) inflation expectations jumped up from 3.0 percent in July to 3.6 percent in early August, the series’ sharpest increase since a gasoline price induced spike to 3.9 percent in March. Longer-term (five-years ahead) inflation expectations also headed higher in August, rising from 2.7 percent to 3.0 percent.
  • 08.07.2012
  • Consumer Credit
  • Total consumer credit rose by 3 percent at an annual rate in June, down from the 7.8 percent posted in May (which has been revised down from 8 percent). This smallest increase since October is the sum of a 7.2 percent rise in nonrevolving credit and a 5.1 percent fall in revolving credit. That decline in revolving credit stands in sharp contrast to its increase of 10.5 percent in May. Still on an annualized basis, total consumer credit rose by 5 percent during the second quarter of this year, which is about average compared to the past few quarters and a full percentage point above the growth which occurred during 2011. As for outstanding credit, it reached $2,577.4 billion in June, the sum of $864.6 billion in revolving credit and $1,712.8 billion in nonrevolving credit.
  • 07.31.2012
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income increased at a non-annualized rate of 0.5 percent in June, following an increase of 0.3 percent in May, and is up 3.5 percent since June of last year. Disposable personal income—personal income less current taxes—increased 0.4 percent during the month, and is up 3.2 percent over the last 12 months. After controlling for price changes, “real” disposable personal income was up 0.3 percent in June, and on a year-over-year basis, “real” DPI was up 1.7 percent. The near-term (3-month) trend in the year-over-year growth rate accelerated during the second quarter increasing from 0.1 percent at the end of the first quarter to 1.3 percent by the end of the second quarter. This data release also included the BEA’s annual revisions going back to 2009, which showed a downward revision in the year-over-year change in“real” DPI from −2.3 percent to −2.8 percent for 2009, no revision for 2010 (remaining at 1.8 percent), and a slight upward revision for 2011 from 1.2 percent to 1.3 percent. In June, “real” personal consumption expenditures decreased 0.1 percent following an increase of 0.1 percent in May. This marks the first month of negative consumption growth since last August. On a year-over-year basis, “real” personal consumption expenditures are up 2.0 percent. Consumption seems to have slowed a bit over the second quarter, as the 3-month trend in “real” PCE fell from just over 0.2 percent during the first quarter to less than 0.1 percent by the end of the second quarter. The personal savings rate increased to 4.4 percent in June from 4.0 percent in May, and was also revised downward for each of the last three years going from 5.1 percent to 4.7 percent in 2009, 5.3 percent to 5.1 percent in 2010, and from 4.6 percent to 4.2 percent in 2011.
  • 07.30.2012
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment was revised up slightly to 72.3 from July’s initial reading of 72.0. This is a 0.9 point drop from June’s index level of 73.2, and still 7.0 points lower than a recent high in May of 79.3. The current conditions component was revised down slightly from 83.2 to 82.7, which marks a 1.2 point improvement over June. Meanwhile, the consumer expectations component was revised up from 64.8 to 65.6, a drop of 2.2 points from the previous month. Median short-run (one-year ahead) inflation expectations were revised up to 3.0 percent from 2.8 percent earlier in the month, while longer-term (five-years ahead) inflation expectations were revised down slightly from 2.8 percent to 2.7 percent.
  • 07.09.2012
  • Consumer Credit
  • Total consumer credit rose for the ninth consecutive month in May, improving 0.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis. After May’s improvement, total consumer credit balances stand 1.7 percent below their pre-recession peak on a non-inflation adjusted basis. Furthermore, total consumer credit rose 5.3 percent on an annual basis, making it the largest annual increase in total consumer credit since June 2008. The growth in total consumer credit was driven by improvements in both revolving and nonrevolving credit. Nonrevolving credit rose for the ninth consecutive month in May, increasing 0.5 percent. Compared to May 2011, nonrevolving credit is up 7.3 percent, the largest twelve month increase since January 2004. Moreover, revolving credit surged 0.9 percent in May after falling 0.4 percent in April. May’s performance marks the largest monthly increase in revolving credit since November 2007. On a year-over-year basis, revolving credit is up 1.5 percent.
  • 07.02.2012
  • Construction Spending
  • Private construction spending rose to $560.4 billion, representing a 1.6 percent increase from April to May and a 13.1 percent over the past 12 months. Upward revisions to April and March showed nonresidential construction increases for both months. Within residential construction there was an overall improvement of 3 percent in May. Spending increases on new single-family homes rose 1.8 percent, new multifamily homes rose 6.3 percent, and residential improvements rose 3.6 percent. Nonresidential construction came in at $299.1 billion, up 18.6 percent from this time last year. The largest section of power and utility fell slightly over May, but is still up 35.2 percent from May 2011. There was improved spending on manufacturing structures, commercial structures, and healthcare structures. Manufacturing showed the largest increase of 2.8 percent for the month to aid the increase in private construction.
  • 06.29.2012
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income increased 0.2 percent (nonannualized) in May, following an increase of 0.2 percent in April and 0.4 percent in March. On a year-over-year basis, personal income is up 2.9 percent. Disposable personal income—personal income less current taxes—also increased 0.2 percent in May. After adjusting for price effects, “real” disposable personal income (DPI) rose 0.3 percent during the month, its largest monthly increase since October 2010. The series’ near-term (3-month annualized) growth rate, boosted by May’s increase, jumped up from 1.3 percent to 2.6 percent, which is well above its year-over-year growth rate of 1.1 percent. Real personal consumption expenditures edged up 0.1 percent in May, and has been sluggish in recent months; rising at an annualized rate of a mere 0.4 percent over the past three months, compared to its modest (1.9 percent) year-over-year growth rate. The personal savings rate (as a percent of DPI) edged up to 3.9 percent in May, but is still below its post-recession average of 4.7 percent.
  • 06.29.2012
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment was revised down from 74.1 to 73.2 in June, a relatively large (6 point) decline from its level in May. Interestingly, the release noted that nearly all of June’s decline was driven by respondents with household income north of $75,000. These respondents viewed prospects for the economy and their own financial situation as significantly worse (causing a 15.7 index point decline in their respective sentiment index). The sentiment index for respondents with lower incomes was unchanged in June. Despite the drop off in sentiment, median inflation expectations for the short-run (one-year ahead) and longer-term (five-to-ten years ahead) ticked up in June, with each index rising 0.1 percentage point to 3.1 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively.
  • 06.26.2012
  • Home Price Indexes
  • Both the 10- and 20-city S&P Case-Shiller housing price composite indexes rose 0.7 percent from March to April. On an annual basis the 10-city composite is down 2.2 percent and the 20-city composite is down 1.86 percent. While annual growth rates are still negative, 18 of the 20 MSAs covered saw prices improve—representing the lowest decline in 15 months. Overall both indexes are back to mid-2003 levels, and four cities, including Cleveland, continue to have average home prices below their January 2000 levels.

    The FHFA housing price index rose 0.8 percent from March to April and 3.0 percent over the past 12-months to an index level of 186.8. Regionally, housing price varied from a 6.5 percent increase in the Mountain Division to a 2.6 decline in the New England Division. Housing prices are now back to May 2004 index levels.

  • 06.13.2012
  • Retail Sales
  • Retail sales slipped down 0.2 percent in May, following a sizeable downward revision to April’s estimate (from a 0.1 percent gain to a 0.2 percent decline). The recent weakness has pulled the series’ 3-month annualized growth rate down to −0.1 percent (it’s first dip into negative territory since November 2009), and well below its 12-month growth rate of 5.3 percent. Interestingly, auto sales continued to prop up the headline in May, jumping up 1.0 percent and surprising consensus expectations of a decrease in the sector. Over the past 12 months, auto sales are up 11.0 percent. Excluding autos, retail sales fell 0.4 percent in May following a 0.3 percent decline in April, leaving the series’ 12 month growth rate at 4.3 percent, down 2.5 percentage points since February. Cross-category sales performance was mixed (with a downside tilt) in May, with 5 of the 13 broad sectors posting declines. It’s very likely the some of the recent weakness is price related, as sales at gasoline stations have fallen sharply over the past two months on declining prices at the pump. “Core” retail sales—a cleaner measure of consumer spending trajectory—which excludes autos, building supplies, and gas stations was flat in May and has been trending down since the beginning of the year. While the year-over-year growth rate in core sales is still up 4.8 percent, its near term (3-month annualized) trend has fallen from 8.1 percent through the first 3 months of the year to its slowest growth rate since July 2010.
  • 06.07.2012
  • Consumer Credit
  • Total consumer credit rose for the eighth consecutive month in April, improving 0.3 percent on a seasonally-adjusted basis. April’s improvement follows upward revisions total consumer credit in February (up $11 billion) and March (up $2.1 billion). Compared to April 2011, total consumer credit outstanding is up 4.8 percent. Growth in total consumer credit in April was driven by an increase in nonrevolving credit which improved 0.6 percent. Compared to April 2011, nonrevolving credit outstanding is up 6.6 percent, the largest annual increase since August 2005. Comparatively, revolving credit fell 0.4 percent in April but is up 1.3 percent on a year-over-year basis.
  • 06.01.2012
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income increased 0.2 percent (nonannualized) in April, following a 0.4 percent increase in March, and was up 2.8 percent since last year. This release also included revised data for the fourth quarter of last year and the first quarter of this year due to new wage and salary information from the QECW. Nominal personal income for the past two quarters were revised down a bit, with the fourth quarter average year-over-year change dropping from 4.6 percent to 4.2 percent, and the average year-over-year change for the first quarter dropping from 3.4 percent to 2.9 percent. Disposable personal income—personal income less current taxes—increased 0.2 percent as well, following an increase of 0.4 percent in March. “Rea” disposable personal income (DPI adjusted for price changes) increased 0.2 percent in April. On a year-over-year basis, “real” DPI was up 0.7 percent, which is the largest year-over-year increase since last September. “Real” personal consumption expenditures increased 0.3 percent in April after being flat in March. Since last April, consumption was up 2.1 percent, which is the first time the year-over-year change in consumption has been over 2.0 percent since September 2011. This helped pull the near-term (3-month) trend in consumption up from 1.8 to 1.9 percent. Consumption of goods improved after last month’s decrease of 0.1 percent, increasing 0.4 percent for the month, while services consumption increased 0.2 percent. The personal savings rate decreased to 3.4 percent in April compared with 3.5 percent in March.
  • 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.

  • 05.23.2012
  • 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.
  • 05.15.2012
  • 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.
  • 05.07.2012
  • 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.
  • 04.30.2012
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.4 percent in March, following increases of 0.3 percent in both January and February. On a year-over-year basis, nominal income was up 3.2 percent, pulling the near-term (3-month) trend in year-over-year changes down from 3.8 percent to 3.4 percent. Disposable personal income—personal income less current taxes—increased 0.4 percent, following a 0.2 percent increase in February. After decreasing 0.1 percent in each of the prior two months, “real” disposable personal income (DPI adjusted for price changes) increased 0.2 percent. “Real” DPI has been flat over the past three months, and is up only 0.6 percent over last year. Following 0.5 percent increase in February (caused primarily by a spike in services consumption) “real” personal consumption expenditures increased 0.1 percent in March. Services consumption was flat following a 0.4 percent jump in February, and consumption of durable goods, which increased 2.1 percent in February, decreased 0.2 percent. On a year-over-year basis, real consumption was up 1.8 percent, and the three month trend in year-over-year changes increased slightly, going from 1.8 percent to 1.9 percent.
  • 04.24.2012
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family home sales fell 7.1 percent in March to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 328,000 units. March’s decline follows steep upward revisions to January’s (revised up 11,000 to 329,000) and February’s (revised up 40,000 to 353,000) new single-family home sales. Compared to March 2011, sales of new single-family homes are up 7.5 percent. Regionally, sales were strongest in the Northeast and South, improving 7.7 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively. Comparatively, sales fell in Midwest and West regions declining 20.0 percent and 27.0 percent, respectively. The median sales price fell 1.0 percent in March to $234,500, while the average sales price rose sharply, improving 8.0 percent to $291,200. Finally, the seasonally-adjusted estimate of new single-family homes for sale fell for the eighth consecutive month, declining 1.4 percent to 144,000 units representing 5.3 months of supply at the current sales rate.
  • 04.16.2012
  • Retail Sales
  • Retail sales increased 0.8 percent in March, following a relatively strong 1.0 percent gain in February (revised down 0.1 percentage point), and is up 6.5 percent on a year-over-year basis. Sales were up across most major components. In fact, only health and personal care stores (down 0.2 percent) and miscellaneous store retailers (down 0.8 percent) posted decreases in March. Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were the top gainers in March, with sales that jumped up 3.0 percent during the month and are up 14.1 percent on a year-over-year basis. Sales at gasoline stations rose 1.1 percent in March, though that was likely due to an increase in gasoline prices. Auto sales rose 0.9 percent in March, and are up 8.3 percent over the past year. “Core” retail sales—a cleaner measure of consumer spending trajectory—which excludes autos, building supplies and gas stations rose 0.4 percent in March, following a 0.5 percent gain in February. For the first quarter as a whole, retail sales rose at an annualized pace of 5.9 percent, slightly higher than its four-quarter growth rate of 5.3 percent.
  • 04.13.2012
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment edged down a bit in early April, falling from an index level of 76.2 in March to 75.7. The current conditions component fell sharply: from 86 in March to 80.6 in April. However, the consumer expectations component rose 2.7 points to 72.5 in April, offsetting some of the decline in the current conditions component. Median short-run (one-year ahead) inflation expectations slipped down from 3.9 percent to 3.4 percent in April, and are 1.2 percentage points below its level a year ago. Importantly, longer-term (five-to-ten years ahead) expectations remained at 3.0 percent in April, which suggests that respondents aren’t expecting a gas price spike in March to feed into an increase in longer-run price pressure. Interestingly, the increase longer-term expectations in recent months (from around 2.7 percent in 2012:Q4 to 3.0 percent currently), appears to have been driven by the upper end of the distribution; as the 75th percentile jumped up from 4.2 percent to 4.8 percent, while the 25th percentile has remained roughly flat at 1.6 percent.
  • 04.06.2012
  • Consumer Credit
  • Total consumer credit rose for the sixth consecutive month, improving 0.3 percent in February and is up 4.3 percent on year-over-year basis. Moreover, since September 2011, total consumer credit has expanded by $78.0 billion. The increase in total consumer credit can be attributed to continued strength in nonrevolving accounts, which rose 0.6 percent in February and are up 6.1 percent on a year-over-year basis. Comparatively, revolving accounts declined for the second consecutive month, falling 0.3 percent. Since February 2011, revolving accounts are up a modest 0.7 percent.
  • 03.30.2012
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.2 percent in February, which follows a 0.2 percent increase in January (revised down from 0.3 percent) and a 0.4 percent increase in December (revised down from 0.5 percent). On a year-over-year basis, it was up 3.2 percent. This pulls the near-term (3-month) trend in year-over-year changes down from 4.2 percent to 3.7 percent. Disposable personal income (DPI)—personal income less current taxes—was up 0.2 percent in February following a flat reading in January. After adjusting for price changes, “real” disposable personal income dropped 0.1 percent in February and has been flat over the past three months. On a year-over-year basis, “real” DPI was up 0.3 percent, a drop-off from the 0.6 percent increase in January. The year-over-year change in “real” DPI has been below 1.0 percent for 10 consecutive months, going back to May of last year. “Real” personal consumption expenditures were up 0.5 percent in February after a 0.2 percent increase in January (revised up from zero) and a 0.1 percent increase in December (also revised up from zero). The 3-month growth rate in real consumption is at 0.2 percent, and consumption increased 1.8 percent over last February. Contributing to the gain in “real” consumption was a spike in the consumption of services. After being nearly flat for the past 6 months, services consumption jumped 0.4 percent in February.
  • 03.27.2012
  • Home Price Indexes
  • The 10- and 20-city S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes fell 0.8 percent from December to January. Over the past 12 months the 10-city composite has fallen 3.9 percent and the 20-city composite is down 3.8 percent. Eight of the covered cites have posted new index lows, while Denver, Detroit, and Phoenix were the only cities to post positive annual gains. Both indexes are now down 34.4 percent from their 2006 peaks and back to early 2003 levels.

    The FHFA Housing Price Index went unchanged on a seasonally-adjusted basis from December to January, and is down 0.8 percent over the past 12 months. Regionally, annual price changes ranged from a 5.2 percent increase in the West North Central division to a 2.4 percent decline in the Pacific division. The U.S. index is down 19.2 percent from its April 2007 peak and back to the early 2004 index level.

  • 03.23.2012
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family home sales fell 1.6 percent in February to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 313,000 units. February’s decline follows a downwardly revised decline of 5.4 percent to 318,000 (initial 321,000) seasonally-adjusted annualized units in January. On a year-over-year basis, sales of new single-family homes are up 11.4 percent. Regionally, sales were strongest in the Northeast and West, increasing 14.3 percent and 8.0 percent respectively. Comparatively, sales fell in the Midwest and South, declining 2.4 percent and 7.2 percent, respectively. The median and average sales price rose in February, with the median sales price increasing 8.3 percent to $233,700 and the average sale price improving 2.2 percent to $267,700. Finally, the seasonally adjusted estimate of new single-family homes for sale at the end of February stood at 150,000 units, representing 5.8 months of supply at the current sales rate.
  • 03.21.2012
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Sales of existing single-family homes fell 1.0 percent in February to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 4.06 million units. The decline in existing single-family home sales follows an upwardly revised increase of 5.1 percent in January. Compared to February 2011, sales of existing single-family homes are up 9.4 percent. The median sales price of existing single-family homes rose 1.6 percent to $157,100 in February, suggesting that prices have stabilized following January’s a downwardly revised decline of 4.9 percent. Projected inventories of existing single-family homes rose 1.4 percent in February to 2.1 million units available representing 6.2 months of supply at the current sales rate.
  • 03.20.2012
  • Housing Starts
  • Single-family housing starts fell 9.9 percent in February to an annualized rate of 457,000 units, though are still up 17.8 percent over the past year. Regional monthly changes to housing starts ranged from a 13.9 percent increase in the Northeast to a 17.4 percent decline in the South. Despite the decrease in starts, single-family building permits—which are somewhat less volatile than starts—rose 4.9 percent in February, and are up 23.6 percent on a year-over-year basis.
  • 03.07.2012
  • Consumer Credit
  • Total consumer credit rose 0.7 percent in January, marking the fifth consecutive monthly increase. Since January 2011, total consumer credit has increased in eleven of the last twelve months. Moreover, on a nominal basis, total consumer credit outstanding is down only $70.0 billion from its July 2008 peak. Compared to January 2011, total consumer credit is up 4.3 percent, representing the largest year-over-year increase in consumer credit since July 2008. Nonrevolving accounts continue to be the driver behind total consumer credit growth, increasing 1.2 percent in January. Conversely, revolving consumer credit fell 0.4 percent in January, the first decline in the series since August 2011.
  • 03.01.2012
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income increased 0.3 percent (non-annualized) in January following a 0.5 percent increase in December, and is up 3.6 percent on a year-over-year basis. Disposable personal income (DPI)—personal income less current taxes—had only a slight 0.1 percent increase in January after a 0.4 percent increase in December. The report indicates that DPI would have been closer to 0.2 percent if not for a few special factors that affected January’s data, including a boost in current personal taxes. Those same factors would have impacted “real” disposable personal income—DPI adjusted for price changes—which was down 0.1 percent in January after a 0.3 percent gain in December. “Real” personal consumption expenditures were flat in January and have remained flat over the past three months. This has pulled its 3-month growth rate down from 0.7 percent to zero, and it is up just 1.4 percent on a year-over-year basis.
  • 02.24.2012
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family home sales fell 0.9 percent in January to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 321,000 units. January’s decline follows a sharply revised upward increase to 324,000 seasonally-adjusted annualized units (initial 307,000) in December. Compared to January 2011, sales of new single-family homes are up 3.5 percent. Regionally, sales ranged from a 24.5 percent decline in the Midwest to an 11.1 percent increase in the Northeast. The median sales price rose 0.3 percent in January to $217,000, while the average sales price fell 1.2 percent to $261,600. Finally, the seasonally adjusted estimate of new single-family homes for sale at the end of January stood at 151,000 units, representing the lowest level of supply at the current sales rate, 5.6 months, since January 2006 (5.3 months) and marking the sixth consecutive month of declines in the supply of new single-family homes for sale.
  • 02.14.2012
  • Retail Sales
  • Retail sales rose 0.4 percent in January, following a downwardly revised flat reading in December. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales are up 5.8 percent—a deceleration from its recent high of 9.1 percent last February—but still above its longer-run (20-year) growth rate of 4.6 percent. Swings in auto sales—down 1.2 percent in January after jumping up 2.5 percent in December—have greatly influenced the headline reading over the past two months. Excluding the auto sector, retail sales jumped up 0.7 percent in January, more than reversing a sharp 0.5 percent decline in December (revised down from a 0.2 percent dip). Importantly, the near-term (3-month) annualized growth rate in ex-auto sales—at 1.6 percent—is well below its 12-month growth rate of 5.5 percent, signaling a slowdown in momentum. Still, cross-category sales performance was mostly positive in January. Aside from autos, the only other categories that decreased in January were furniture and home furnishing stores (down 0.2 percent), health and personal care stores (down 0.3 percent), and nonstore retailers (down 1.1 percent). The strongest sales increases were seen at general merchandise stores (up 2.0 percent), gasoline stations (likely a price-related 1.4 percent jump up), and food and beverage stores (up 1.3 percent) in January. “Core” retail sales (sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations)—a less noisy indicator of the trend in consumption growth—jumped up 0.7 percent in January, erasing a 0.4 percent decrease in December that was its first monthly decrease since July 2010. The series’ near-term annualized growth rate improved from 1.2 percent to 1.6 percent on January’s strength, but is still well off its 12-month trend pace of 4.9 percent.
  • 02.07.2012
  • Consumer Credit
  • Total consumer credit outstanding continued to improve at a healthy pace in December, increasing 0.8 percent on a seasonally-adjusted basis to $2.5 trillion. December’s improvement follows an upwardly revised increase of 0.9 percent in November and marks the fourth consecutive month that total consumer credit has grown. Compared to December 2010, total consumer credit is up 3.7 percent, the largest increase since August 2008. Nonrevolving consumer credit continues to be the main driver behind total consumer credit growth. In December, nonrevolving accounts rose 1.0 percent, representing the largest one-month increase since February 2005. Moreover, on a year-over-year basis, nonrevolving consumer credit is up 5.5 percent. Finally, revolving accounts continued to grow in December, increasing 0.4 percent and are up 0.1 percent on a year-over-year basis.
  • 01.31.2012
  • Home Price Indexes
  • The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index fell 0.7 percent for both the 10- and 20-city composite indexes from October to November. Compared to last year, both the 10- and 20-city composites are down 3.6 and 3.8 percent, respectively. For the second consecutive month, 19 of the 20 covered cities saw their home prices decrease. However, eight of the 20 cities, including Cleveland, saw a decrease in monthly declines compared to October’s figures. Down 11.8 percent from last year, Atlanta maintains the lowest annual gain, while Detroit and Washington DC continue to post the only positive annual gains of 3.8 and 0.5 percent, respectively. Both indexes are now back to mid-2003 levels.

    The FHFA HPI rose 1.0 percent in November, following a downwardly revised 0.7 percent decline in October (from −.2 percent). On a year-over-year basis, the HPI is down 1.8 percent and is still 18.8 percent below its April 2007 peak. Performance across regions has been mixed over the past year. The largest year-over-year decline in house prices was in the Pacific region (down 4.2 percent), while the South Atlantic region saw the largest increase (up 2.1 percent).

  • 01.30.2012
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income jumped up 0.5 percent (non-annualized) in December, following a slight 0.1 percent uptick in November, and is up 3.8 percent over the past year. Disposable personal income—personal income less current taxes—rose 0.4 percent in December (its largest increase in nine months), following a flat reading in November. After adjusting for price effects, “real” disposable income rose 0.3 percent during the month and rose 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter following two consecutive quarterly declines. Still, on a year-over-year basis, real disposable income has fallen 0.1 percent, providing little support for further consumption gains. As was hinted at by the surprisingly lackluster consumption growth in fourth-quarter real GDP, the monthly detail reveals downward revisions to October and November real consumption gains—which were both revised down from 0.2 percent to 0.1 percent increases. Also on a dour note, the trajectory in real consumption appears to have lost a little steam. Real consumption fell 0.1 percent in December, helping to pull its 3-month annualized growth rate down from 3.3 percent to 0.7 percent. On a year-over-year basis, real consumption is up just 1.4 percent, a considerably slower growth rate than at the start of 2011 (2.9 percent). As disposable income growth outpaced consumption in December, the personal savings rate rose from 3.5 percent to 4.0 percent—only its second increase in the past six months.
  • 01.20.2012
  • Existing Home Sales
  • According to the National Association of Realtors, sales of existing single-family homes rose 4.6 percent from November to December to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.1 million units sold, the highest level since May 2010. This also represents the third consecutive month of positive growth and a 4.3 percent increase from December 2010. Nationally, sales ranged from a 10.6 percent increase in the Northwest, to a 0.9 percent decrease in the West. The median price of home fell to $165,100, a 2.5 percent decrease from last year. The annual median price of homes fell across all census regions, most significantly a 7.4 percent decrease in the Midwest. As sales continue to improve, the monthly supply and inventory of existing single-family are steadily declining, partially due to a continuing decline on new home construction. The monthly supply of housing fell for the fifth consecutive month to only 6.1 months supply, the lowest since April 2006. Inventories fell for the sixth consecutive month to 2.08 million units, which is the lowest level since March 2005.
  • 01.12.2012
  • Retail Sales
  • Retail sales edged up 0.1 percent in December, following upwardly revised 0.4 percent and 0.7 percent gains in November and October, respectively. The series is up 6.5 percent on a year-over-year basis. Autos sales—up 1.5 percent in December—were much of the reason for an overall increase. Excluding autos, retail sales actually fell 0.2 percent during the month, following a 0.3 percent gain in November, but are still up 6.0 percent over the past year. Cross-category sales performance was mixed in December, with 7 of 13 broad categories seeing nominal sales gains. Outside autos, sales gains were strongest at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (up 1.6 percent), furniture and home furnishing stores (up 1.0 percent), and clothing and clothing accessories stores (up 0.7 percent). On the other hand, sales at electronics and appliance stores (down 3.9 percent), gasoline stations (down 1.6 percent), and general merchandise stores (down 0.8 percent) led declining categories. “Core” retail sales (sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations)—a less noisy indicator of the trend in consumption growth—slipped down 0.2 percent in December, following a 6-month string of fairly robust gains. On the fourth quarter as a whole, core retail sales rose at an annualized rate of 5.3 percent, roughly in-line with its third quarter increase of 5.1 percent and its year-over-year growth rate of 5.4 percent.
  • 01.10.2012
  • Consumer Credit
  • Total consumer credit outstanding surged in November, increasing $20.4 billion (0.8 percent) to $2.478 trillion on a seasonally adjusted basis, representing the largest one month increase in total consumer credit since November 2001. November’s performance marks the tenth time in eleven months that consumer credit has risen. Moreover, on a year-over-year basis, total consumer credit has increased 3.2 percent. The increased appetite for consumer debt is a positive sign that suggests consumers have a more confident economic outlook. Driven by strong automobile sales in November, growth in total consumer credit continues to be concentrated in nonrevolving accounts, which rose 0.9 percent in November and are up 4.7 percent on a year-over-year basis. Revolving accounts also surged in November, increasing 0.7 percent; however, on a year-over-year basis, revolving accounts were flat.
  • 12.27.2011
  • Home Price Indexes
  • According to today’s report, the fourth quarter started with broad-based declines in home prices. From September to October, the 10- and 20-city composites declined by 1.1 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively. Nineteen of the 20 cities covered by the indexes saw home prices decrease over the month. On an annual basis, the 10-city composite is down 3 percent and the 20-city composite is down 3.4 percent, and eighteen of the 20 MSAs are also in negative territory. Detroit (up 2.5 percent) and Washington D.C. (up 1.3 percent) were the only two cities to post positive annual gains, while Atlanta fared the worst, declining 11.7 percent from last year. Locally, home prices here in Cleveland dropped 1 percent in October and 2.4 percent from October 2010. The average price of homes here in Cleveland is now below January 2000 levels.
  • 12.23.2011
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family home sales rose for the third consecutive month to a seasonally adjusted rate of 315,000 units being sold. After an upward revision of Octobers’ figures, this represents a 1.6 percent in November. Compared to November 2010, this is a 9.8 percent overall increase in sales. Regionally sales ranged from a 30 percent decline in the Northeast to a 62.9 percent increase in the Midwest on a year-over-year basis. The median sales price of new houses sold in November 2011 was $214,100; the average sales price was $242,900. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of November was 158,000. This represents a 6 month supply of new single-family housing at the current sales rate.
  • 12.23.2011
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income rose 0.1 percent (non-annualized) in November, compared to a 0.4 percent increase in October, and has risen 3.9 percent over the past year. Disposable personal income—personal income less current taxes—was flat in November following a 0.2 percent gain in October. However, increased 0.3 percent in October, after a slight 0.1 percent increase in September. Real (inflation-adjusted) disposable income was also flat in November, given an unchanged reading on PCE inflation. Still, the trend in real disposable income is not a positive one (down 0.1 percent on a year-over-year basis), as nominal gains have failed to keep pace with inflation over the past year. Despite the lack of real income growth, consumption continues to trudge higher, as real personal consumption expenditures rose 0.2 percent in November. Real consumption is trending at an annualized rate of 3.5 percent over the past 3 months, well above its 12-month growth rate of 1.7 percent, due in large part to rising goods purchases (up 8.1 percent over the past 3 months). On the other hand, services consumption has started to decelerate. Its near-term (3 month) growth rate stands at 1.7 percent as of November, a sharp fall-off from its year-over-year trend of 3.1 percent. As consumption growth has recently outpaced disposable income gains, the savings rate has dipped, falling from 5.0 percent to 3.5 percent over the past six months.
  • 12.22.2011
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales rose 4.5 percent to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 3.95 million units in November from 3.78 million units in October, and are 12.9 percent above the 3.50 million-unit level in November 2010. The median existing single-family home price was $164,100 in November, down 4.0 percent from a year ago. The monthly supply of single-family homes is now only 7 months, a decline of 7.9 percent from last month and 25.5 percent from last year. This is the lowest monthly supply of single-family housing since December 2009. With this latest report the NAR released periodic benchmark revisions with downward adjustments to sales and inventory data since 2007. Led by a decline in homes that were for-sale-by-owner, overall there was a 14 percent downward revision to sales and inventory for the four year period since 2007.
  • 12.07.2011
  • Consumer Credit
  • Total consumer credit outstanding rose 0.31 percent in October. Moreover, in 2011, total consumer credit outstanding has risen in nine out of the last ten months and is up 2.42 percent on a year-over-year basis. Growth in consumer credit outstanding continues to be driven by nonrevolving credit, which was up 0.44 percent in October. On a year-over-year basis, nonrevolving consumer credit outstanding rose 4.21 percent. Comparatively, revolving consumer credit outstanding increased slightly, improving 0.04 percent in October but was down 1.15 percent compared to October 2010.
  • 11.29.2011
  • Home Price Indexes
  • In the third quarter of 2011, the S&P /Case-Shiller national housing price index declined 3.9 percent from the previous year and 1.2 percent from the second quarter of 2011. On a monthly basis from August to September, both the 10- and 20-city composites experienced declines of 0.4 and 0.6 percent, respectively. Across the nation, seventeen of the 20 cities covered were down in September—Atlanta, Las Vegas and Phoenix fell to new index lows. For the third consecutive month, Washington D.C. and Detroit have been the only two cities to post positive annual growth rates, increasing by 3.7 and 1.0 percent, respectively.

    According to the FHFA housing price index, sales prices rose 0.2 percent from the second to third quarter of 2011. However, when compared to the third quarter of last year, prices fell 3.7 percent. On a monthly basis, prices rose 0.9 percent in September. Of the nine census divisions, the West North Central division experienced the strongest price gains of 1.5 percent in the third quarter. Prices were weakest in the Pacific census division where prices fell 0.5 percent in the third quarter. Nationally, both the Case-Schiller and FHFA home price indexes are back to their first quarter of 2003 levels.

  • 11.23.2011
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income rose 0.4 percent (non-annualized) in October, compared to a 0.1 percent increase in September, and is 3.9 percent over the past year. Disposable personal income—personal income less current taxes—increased 0.3 percent in October, after a slight 0.1 percent increase in September. Real (inflation-adjusted) disposable income rose 0.3 percent during the month, following decreases in five of the last six months. On a year-over-year basis, disposable income edged down 0.1 percent, and has fallen markedly since its recent cyclical high of 3.8 percent in October 2010. Notably, the level of disposable income has grown just 1.5 percent since the previous business cycle peak in December 2007. Real personal consumption expenditures—which have increased 1.7 percent since December 2007—ticked up 0.1 percent in October, following a 0.5 percent jump up in September. The 12 month growth rate in consumption edged down slightly to 2.0 percent in October. As consumption growth has recently outpaced disposable income gains, the savings rate has dipped, falling from 5.0 percent to 3.5 percent over the past five months.
  • 11.15.2011
  • Retail Sales
  • Retails sales rose 0.5 percent in October, surprising forecasts for a modest pull-back after jumping up 1.1 percent in September. Importantly, even after excluding autos, retail sales rose 0.6 percent during the month, its third consecutive increase above 0.5 percent. This follows a soft patch from April to July where sales growth increased just 1.1 percent over that four-month span. Cross-category performance was generally positive, though sales at furniture and home furnishing stores, gasoline stations, and clothing and accessory stores all dipped in October. Interestingly, nominal sales at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (a discretionary spending category) continued to post strong gains, rising 1.3 percent in October and have now climbed up to its highest 12-month growth rate ( 9.1 percent) since mid-1998. “Core” retail sales (sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations)—a less noisy indicator of the trend in consumption growth—increased 0.6 percent in October, following a 0.5 percent gain in September. The 3-month annualized growth rate in core retail sales rose to 6.6 percent in October, edging just above its 12-month growth rate of 6.1 percent, which may be a tentative sign of continued strength.
  • 10.28.2011
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income slipped down grew 0.1 percent (non-annualized) in September, reversing a 0.1 percent drop in August, and is 4.4 percent over the past year. Disposable personal income—personal income less current taxes—increased 0.1 percent in September after a downwardly revised 0.1 percent drop in August. After adjusting for price changes, “real” disposable income posted its third consecutive monthly decline, falling 0.1 percent. The series’ 12-month growth rate has softened in the third quarter and is trending at just 0.2 percent in September. After recent declines in nominal government transfers for social programs fell in each of the previous two months, the series avoided losses in September (largely due to an increase in unemployment insurance transfers and slower declines in Medicaid). Real personal consumption expenditures were up 0.5 percent in September after a flat reading in August. The 12-month growth rate for the series climbed to 2.2 percent. Durables spending recovered from a revised August decline of 1.0 percent by adding 2.6 percent in September, while nondurables purchases posted a 0.5 percent gain, its strongest in nearly one year. Services consumption rose 0.1 percent in August, and is up 1.8 percent over the past year. The personal savings rate (as a percent of disposable income) fell 0.5 percentage points in September to 3.6 percent, even after the rate in August was revised down an extra 0.4 percentage points. September savings rate is the lowest since December 2007.
  • 10.28.2011
  • Employment Cost Index
  • Employer costs of compensation for civilian workers rose 0.3 percent in the third quarter, after increasing 0.7 percent in the second quarter. The wages and salary component edged up 0.3 percent, down slightly from the second quarter’s 0.4 percent advance. The benefits component, averaging 1.2 percent growth in the first half of the year, fell to 0.1 percent growth in the third quarter causing overall compensation to increase at a slower pace. Year-over-year, compensation advanced 2.0 percent, down from the second quarter’s 2.2 percent yearly gain. Compensation of private industry workers continues to advance posting gains of 0.4 percent on a quarterly basis and 2.2 percent year-over-year. Compared to the beginning of the year, however, quarterly and yearly growth slowed in the third quarter. Compensation of state and local workers ticked up 0.1 percent in the third quarter after increasing 1.2 percent in the second quarter. The deceleration in growth was caused by a 0.2 percent decrease in wage compensation. Year-over-year, compensation of state and local workers continued to rise, edging up 1.5 percent.
  • 10.14.2011
  • Retail Sales
  • percent) excluding that category, sales still rose 0.6 percent during the month (its largest monthly increase since March). Over the past three months, retail sales excluding autos has risen at an annualized growth rate of 6.2 percent, slightly below its 12-month percent change of 7.8 percent. Across broad categories, sales were mostly to the upside, with 10 out of 13 posting increases in September. Sales at clothing and clothing accessory stores (up 1.3 percent); gas stations (up 1.2 percent); and food services and drinking places (up 1.2 percent) were the largest gainers in September. There were some slight sales decreases at food and beverage stores (down 0.2 percent); sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (down 0.3 percent); and building material, garden equipment, and supplies dealers (down 0.1 percent). “Core” retail sales (sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations)—a less noisy indicator of the trend in consumption growth—increased 0.6 percent in September, following an upwardly revised 0.4 percent (from a flat reading) gain in August. The 3-month annualized growth rate in core retail sales rose to 5.6 percent in September, well above its growth rate of 3.4 percent over the three months prior, and is just shy of its 12-month trend of 6.0 percent.
  • 10.07.2011
  • Consumer Credit
  • Total consumer credit broke a 10-month upward trend to decline 0.4 percent in August. On a year-over-year basis, total consumer credit improved by 2.1 percent. Declines in consumer credit were primarily in nonrevolving accounts, which had the largest monthly drop in nearly three years, falling 0.4 percent from July. However, compared to August 2010, revolving credit is up 4.6 percent. Revolving credit contracted 0.3 percent from July and is down 2.8 percent from this time last year.

  • 09.30.2011
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income slipped down 0.1 percent (non-annualized) in August, reversing a downwardly revised 0.1 percent gain in July, and is now up 4.5 percent over the past year. Disposable personal income—which equals personal income less current taxes—was roughly flat in August. rose 0.3 percent in July. After adjusting for price changes, “real” disposable income posted its first back-to-back monthly declines since mid-2009, falling 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent in July and August, respectively. The series’ 12-month growth rate has slowed reflecting the recent softness and is trending at just 0.3 percent as of August (its slowest growth rate since May 2010). Some support for aggregate income has been waning lately, as nominal government transfers for social programs have slipped down 0.8 percent over the past two months (largely reflecting decreases in medicaid and unemployment insurance transfers). Real personal consumption expenditures were flat in August after an auto purchase-fueled 0.4 percent jump-up in July. The level of consumption was revised down slightly over the last few months, and is growing at an annualized rate of just 1.0 percent over the past three months; below its 12-month growth rate of 1.8 percent. Durables spending ticked up just 0.1 percent in August, while nondurables purchases—which have fallen in 4 of the last 6 months—decreased 0.4 percent during the month. Services consumption rose 0.1 percent in August, following a 0.4 percent gain in July, and is up 1.5 percent over the past year. The personal savings rate (as a percent of disposable income) slipped down 0.2 percentage points in August to 4.5 percent.
  • 09.27.2011
  • Housing Price Indexes
  • Both the 10- and 20-city S&P Case-Shiller home price indexes were up 0.9 percent from June to July. This is the fourth consecutive month housing prices have generally improved. On a monthly basis, only two cities posted declines, Las Vegas down 0.2 percent and Phoenix down 0.1 percent. On an annual basis, both the 10- and 20-city composites are down from last year, 3.7 and 4.1 percent, respectively, and although still in negative territory, 14 of the 20 cities saw their annual rates of change improve. On an annual basis, Detroit and Washington D.C. were the only two cities to post positive rates of change up 1.2 and 0.3 percent, respectively.

    The FHFA purchase-only index gained 0.8 percent from July to June, but is still down 3.3 percent from July 2010. All census divisions showed increases except for the South Atlantic, which fell 0.4 percent in July and is down 5.4 percent from its level in July 2010. The largest monthly increase was in the West North Central division, where prices improved 3.6 percent and are now 0.2 percent above the July 2010 level, and is the only division with a year-over-year increase in prices. The composite index is still down 18.4 percent from its April 2007 peak.

  • 09.26.2011
  • New Home Sales
  • Sales of new single-family homes fell 2.3 percent in August to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 295,000 units. August’s decline follows an upwardly revised 0.33 percent decline in July. On a year-over-year basis, sales of new single-family homes rose for the second consecutive month, improving 6.1 percent. In August, sales of new single-family homes rose in the Midwest and South, increasing 65.6 percent and 9.3 percent, respectively while declining 36.7 percent in the Northeast and 10.6 percent in the West. The median sales price of a new single-family home fell 8.6 percent to $209,100. The number of new single-family homes for sale fell slightly in August, declining 1.2 percent to a seasonally-adjusted rate of 162,000 units, representing 6.6 months of supply at the current sales rate.
  • 09.20.2011
  • Housing Starts
  • Housing starts continued to remain weak in August, falling 1.4 percent to 417,000 annualized units. August’s decline follows a downwardly revised 5.8 percent decline in July. On a year-over-year basis, single family housing starts are down 2.3 percent. Single-family housing starts improved the South, increasing 7.6 percent; however, housing starts fell in the Northeast, Midwest, and West, falling 14.6 percent, 22.7 percent, and 2.2 percent, respectively. While single-family housing starts remained weak in August, authorized permits improved, increasing 2.5 percent to 413,000 annualized units. On a year-over-year basis, authorized permits are up 2.0 percent over August 2010’s pace.
  • 09.08.2011
  • Consumer Credit
  • Total consumer credit outstanding rose for the sixth consecutive month in July, improving 0.5 percent. On a year-over-year basis, consumer credit outstanding rose 2.3 percent. Gains in consumer credit were concentrated in nonrevolving accounts, which rose 0.9 percent in July and are up 5.2 percent on a year-over-year basis. Nonrevolving accounts typically consist of auto sales and other big-ticket items that require financing. Comparatively, consumer credit in the form of revolving accounts contracted 0.4 percent and is down 3.3 percent on a year-over-year basis.
  • 08.30.2011
  • Housing Price Indexes
  • The S&P Case-Shiller national home price index increased by 3.6 percent in the second quarter of 2011, after having deceasing 4.1 percent in the first quarter. On an annual basis home prices declined 5.9 percent when compared to the second quarter of 2010. For the last three consecutive months both the 10- and 20-city composites have increased, showing positive increases for the Spring home buying season. As of June 2011, 19 of the 20 MSA’s covered posted monthly gains and all cities where above their record lows. Nationally, home prices area back to their 2003 levels.

    The FHFA purchase-only housing price index was not as strong in second quarter, whereas prices fell 0.6 percent from the first three months of the year and are down 5.9 percent from the second quarter of 2010. Notably, purchase prices in Pittsburgh were up 3.6 percent over the last four quarters, which represents the largest increase in the nation. Across the nine Census regions, New England and the West South Central posted the strongest gains of 0.7 percent, while the Mountain region fell 2.3 percent. On a monthly basis from May to June the index rose 0.9 percent to a level nearly 19 percent below the peak of April 2007.

  • 08.29.2011
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income ticked up 0.3 percent (non-annualized) in July following an upwardly revised 0.2 percent gain in June, and is now up 5.3 percent over the past year. Disposable personal income rose 0.3 percent in July, though after adjusting for price changes, “real” disposable income slipped down 0.1 percent (its first monthly decrease since September 2010). Over the past 12 months, real disposable income has risen just 1.2 percent its slowest nominal monthly growth since last May. Real personal consumption expenditures jumped up 0.5 percent in July, after three roughly flat readings. Most of July’s jump-up was due to autos purchases, which pushed up durables consumption 2.0 percent after falling 1.3 percent in June. Apart from durables, nondurables consumption almost completely offset a 0.4 percent increase in June, slipping down 0.3 percent in July. However, consumer spending on services rose 0.5 percent in July, its strongest monthly gain since December 2009. The 12-month growth rate rose to 2.3 percent after included July's strength, up from 2.0 percent in June.
  • 08.23.2011
  • New Home Sales
  • Sales of new single-family homes fell 0.7 percent in July to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 298,000. July’s decline follows a downwardly revised 2.9 percent decline in June. On a year-over-year basis, sales of new single-family homes increased 6.8 percent in July. In July, sales of new single-family homes surged in the Northeast, increasing 100 percent while sales rose 2.4 percent in the Midwest, and fell 7.4 and 5.9 percent in the South and West, respectively. The median sales price of new single-family home fell 6.3 percent to $222,000. The number of new single-family homes for sale continued to slide in July, falling 1.2 percent to a seasonally-adjusted 165,000 units, representing 6.6 months of supply at the current sales rate.
  • 08.18.2011
  • Exisiting Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales fell 4 percent in July from an upwardly revised June to a seasonally-adjusted rate of 4.1 million units sold. Although down for the month, total sales of existing single-family homes are up a substantial 21.5 percent higher than they were this time last year. The median price of homes fell 4.5 percent on a year over year basis to $174,800 in July. Sales prices declined in all five census regions from 1.6 percent in the South to 7.9 percent in the Northeast. While the affordability of housing this year is the most favorable it has been in over thirty years, many creditworthy buyers are still unable to secure traditional bank financing. In addition to high levels of contract failures due to low appraisal values, the market for existing home sales remains sluggish throughout the country.
  • 08.12.2011
  • Retail Sales
  • Retail sales rose 0.5 percent in July, following an upwardly revised 0.3 percent (from 0.1 percent) increase in June. Nominal sales were up across most broad categories, except building material and supply dealers (down 0.4 percent), sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores (down 1.5 percent), and food services and drinking places (down 0.1 percent). Some of the largest gainers in July include miscellaneous store retailers (up 2.4 percent), gasoline stations (up 1.6 percent), and electronics and appliance stores (up 1.4 percent). The near-term (3-month) annualized growth rate rebounded to 2.8 percent through July, after slowing from a recent high of 11.8 percent in March to 1.7 percent in June. Over the past year, retail sales are up 8.5 percent. An alternative gauge of retail spending—“core” retail sales (sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations)—increased 0.3 percent in July, following a 0.4 percent increase in June (that was revised up by 0.3 percentage points). Given July’s increase and the strong upward revision to June’s data, the 3-month annualized growth rate in “core” retail sales rose to 4.1 percent, though remains below its year-over-year growth rate of 6.4 percent.
  • 08.05.2011
  • Consumer Credit
  • Total consumer credit outstanding continued to increase in June, improving 0.6 percent. The improvement follows a 0.2 percent increase in May. On a year-over-year basis, total consumer credit outstanding rose for the third consecutive month, increasing 1.7 percent. June’s improvement was driven by increases in both revolving and nonrevolving accounts. For the period, revolving accounts increased 0.7 percent while nonrevolving accounts rose 0.6 percent. Up 4.3 percent on a year-over-year basis, the nonrevolving credit segment continues to be the main driver in total consumer credit outstanding, which partially reflects a improvement in sales for automobiles and other expensive items that require financing.
  • 08.02.2011
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income ticked up 0.1 percent (non-annualized) in June, following a 0.2 percent gain in May. On a year-over-year basis, personal income is up 5.0 percent. Disposable personal income rose just 0.1 percent in June, its slowest nominal monthly growth since last November. However, after adjusting for price changes, “real” disposable personal income rose 0.3 percent, its strongest monthly increase since last October. Still, real disposable income has been relatively weak lately, and has risen just 0.8 percent over the last 6 months and 1.1 percent over the last year. Real personal consumption expenditures were virtually flat in June, following two consecutive declines. While falling motor vehicles and parts purchases accounted for most of May and June’s softness, consumption of nondurables and services have been roughly flat over that time period. Over the past year, real consumption is up 1.8 percent, though the series has lost momentum lately and has slowed to a sluggish 0.6 percent annualized growth rate over the past 6 months.
  • 08.01.2011
  • Construction Spending
  • Private construction spending rose slightly in June to an annualized rate of $493.4 billion, which is a 0.8 percent increase from May. Nonresidential spending drove the gain, increasing 1.8 percent over the month while residential was essentially flat (down 0.3 percent). Within nonresidential, all sectors gained over the month with the exception of religious and amusement and recreation. The largest percentage gains were in commercial (+3.1 percent), communication (+4.0 percent), and manufacturing (+4.0 percent). Manufacturing and commercial have managed to post monthly gains on a somewhat consistent basis; this was the fifth straight month of gains for manufacturing spending and the third straight month for commercial spending. Other sectors have been on erratic up and down trajectories. Looking at a more detailed level, within commercial spending, warehouse, and multi-retail are the sectors that have consistently posted gains over the past several months.

    Spending is down from June last year in all sectors with the exception of Commercial, Communication, and Power. With the exception of Power and Transportation, construction spending is still significantly below pre-recession levels.

  • 07.26.2011
  • Housing Price Indexes
  • On a monthly basis the S&P Case-Shiller Housing Price Index reported that the 10- and 20-city composites increased 1.1 and 1.0 percent, respectively from April to May. Sixteen of the 20 MSAs and both composites posted positive monthly increases. Detroit, Las Vegas, and Tampa were down from April and Phoenix was unchanged. Although the monthly data is encouraging, on an annual basis 19 of the 20 MSAs were down. Washington D.C. was the only MSA to post a positive gain of 1.3 percent, while Minneapolis fared the worst posting a double-digit decline of 11.7 percent from May 2010. Overall, the 10-city composite was down 3.6 percent and the 20-city composite was down 4.5 percent. This is the second consecutive month of generally increased housing prices, which was expected due to seasonal increases to the demand for housing; however it is still uncertain as to whether these improvements are sustainable.

    According to the FHFA housing price index, U.S. house prices rose 0.4 percent on a seasonally-adjusted basis from April to May. The previously reported 0.8 percent increase in April was downwardly revised to a 0.2 percent increase. On an annual basis U.S. housing prices are down 6.3 percent from May 2010. Throughout the nine census divisions monthly prices changes ranged from a 1.0 percent decline in the West South Central Division to a 2.0 increase in the Mountain Division. The U.S. index is 19.6 percent below its April 2007 peak and roughly the same as the January 2004 index level.

  • 07.26.2011
  • New Home Sales
  • Sales of new single-family homes fell 1.0 percent in June to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 312,000. June’s decline follows a downwardly revised 0.6 percent decline in May. On a year-over-year basis, sales of new single-family homes were up 1.6 percent in June. Sales of single-family homes rose in the Midwest and South regions, increasing 9.5 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively while sales declined in the Northeast and West regions, falling 15.8 percent and 12.7 percent. The median sales price of new single-family homes rose 5.8 percent in June to $235,200. The number of new single-family homes for sale continued to decline in June, falling 1.2 percent to 165,000 units, representing 5.6 months of supply at the current sales rate.
  • 07.20.2011
  • Existing Home Sales
  • According to the National Association of Realtors, NAR, sales of existing single-family homes were stagnant from May to June at a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.24 million units sold. While this represents a zero percent change from month to month, sales remain 7.4 percent below the 4.58 million units pace of June 2010. The inventory of single-family homes rose 5.9 percent in June to 3.31 million units available for sale, which represents a 9.5-month supply at the current sales pace. The median price of existing single-family homes rose 0.6 percent to $184,600 from this time last year. Regionally, the South and Midwest posted modest gains of 1.8 and 1.1 percent which were offset by declines of 1.9 and 3.5 percent in the West and Northwest, respectively. The general decline in all existing home sales has mainly been attributed at an unexpected spike in contract cancellations due to tight credit and low appraisals. Despite these constraints homes sales are expected to pick up in the remainder of the year as consumer uncertainty diminishes and more distressed homes become available.
  • 07.19.2011
  • Housing Starts
  • Single-family housing starts rose 9.4 percent in June, following a downwardly revised 0.7 increase in May. The pace of single-family housing starts improved to 453,000 annualized units. Moreover, June’s performance marks the first year-over-year increase in single-family housing starts since May 2010, increasing 0.4 percent over June 2010’s pace. Single-family housing starts improved in the Midwest and South regions, increasing 22.5 percent and 0.8 percent respectively, while declines were seen in the Northeast and West regions, falling 20.4 percent and 6.4 percent, respectively. Single-family housing permits also improved in June, increasing 0.2 percent to 407,000 annualized units. However, despite June’s improvement, single-family housing permits remain 3.8 percent below June 2010’s pace.
  • 07.14.2011
  • Retail Sales
  • Retail sales ticked up 0.1 percent in June, reversing a 0.1 percent decrease in May. The 3-month annualized growth rate in retail sales, which had been in double digits as recently as March, has now slipped down to 0.9 percent. Interestingly, sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers, which dipped down 1.8 percent in May, only partially rebounded in June (rising 0.8 percent). Retail sales excluding motor vehicles and parts dealers were flat in June, and while its year-over-year growth rate is just a tenth under 8.0 percent, the 3-month annualized trend in the series stands at just 2.4 percent. Apart from autos, sales performance was mixed across broad categories in June. Sales at building material, garden equipment, and supplies dealers led the gainers, rising 1.3 percent in June. Sales at clothing stores rose 0.7 percent during the month, after a flat May. On the other hand, sales at gasoline stations fell 1.3 percent (likely as prices in June dipped). And notably, sales at furniture and home furnishing stores, electronics and appliance stores, and sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores all decreased for the third consecutive month. An alternative gauge of retail spending—“core” retail sales (sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations)—edged up just 0.1 percent in June, its smallest increase over the past six months. Importantly, its near-term (3-month annualized) growth rate, at 2.0 percent, is much weaker than its longer-run (12-month) growth rate of 5.5 percent, and appears to just be roughly keeping pace with underlying inflation.
  • 07.08.2011
  • Consumer Credit
  • Total consumer credit outstanding rose for the eighth consecutive month in May, increasing 0.21 percent. The improvement follows a downwardly revised increase of 0.24 percent in April. On a year-over-year basis, total consumer credit outstanding rose for the second consecutive month, increasing 1.0 percent. May’s improvement was likely driven by the increase in revolving accounts, which rose 0.42 percent (the first monthly increase in revolving credit outstanding since December of 2010). Non-revolving accounts rose 0.11 percent in May, following a 0.40 percent increase in April. The slowdown in non-revolving consumer credit in May was likely driven by lower auto sales, which fell from a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 13.1 million units in April to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 11.8 million units in May.
  • 06.28.2011
  • Home Price Indexes
  • From March to April the S&P Case-Shiller 10– and 20–city composite home price indexes reported positive monthly growth for the first time in eight months—up 0.8 and 0.7 percent, respectively. However, on an annual basis both indexes remain in negative territory and six of the 20-city composite showed new index lows in April: Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, Miami, and Tampa. The seasonally adjusted numbers reveal that much of the perceived improvements simply reflect the beginning of the spring-summer home buying season. Although foreclosures remain a large factor in most parts of the country, the S&P/Experian Consumer Credit Default indexes show a small decline in the pace of new defaults since last November as banks tighten lending standards and lengthen the foreclosure process. While both the 10- and 20-city composite indices are down over 30 percent from their 2006 peaks they have gained 1.4 and .07 percent from their 2009 troughs.

    The FHFA national home price index also rose 0.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from March to April, yet is still down 5.7 percent from April of 2010. Across all nine Census Divisions, prices remain down on a year-over-year basis, while monthly price changes from March to April ranged from a decline of 1.3 percent in the Mountain Division to a 2.2 percent increase in the New England Division. Overall, home prices are continuing an upward struggle and are nearly the same as January 2004 levels. Despite gradual improvements to the national housing markets we would need to see several months of growth to shift the annual momentum to the positive side.

  • 06.27.2011
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income rose 0.3 percent (non-annualized) in May, after similar increases in March and April. On a year-over-year basis, personal income is up 4.2 percent. Disposable personal income increased 0.2 percent in May, following a downwardly revised 0.3 percent increase in April. After adjusting for price changes, “real” disposable personal income ticked up 0.1 percent in May, reversing a 0.1 percent decrease in April. Real disposable income hasn't posted a gain above 0.1 percent so far this year, and is up just 0.6 percent over the past 12 months. Real personal consumption expenditures fell 0.1 percent in May, matching a downwardly revised 0.1 percent decrease in April. However, the release noted that much of the softness in consumption over the last two months was tied to purchases of motor vehicles and parts (likely impacted by supply disruptions connected to the Japanese tsunami). Still, abstracting from durables purchases, the 6-month annualized trend in both nondurables and services is somewhat pessimistic, up just 0.2 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively. Overall consumption expenditures are up just 1.1 percent over the past 6 months, and 2.1 percent over the past year.
  • 06.27.2011
  • Personal Consumption Expenditure
  • The Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) price index rose at an annualized rate of 2.1 percent in May, as energy prices decreased for the first time since June 2010. Over the past year, PCE prices are up 2.5. percent. Underlying inflation as measured by the core PCE accelerated in May, rising 3.1 percent—its largest monthly increase since October 2009—helping to push up its near-term (3-month) annualized growth rate from 2.0 percent in April to 2.4 percent in May. Still, core PCE prices are up just 1.2 percent over the past year.
  • 06.23.2011
  • New Home Single-Family Homes
  • Sales of new single-family homes fell 2.1 percent in May to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 319,000. May’s decline follows an upwardly revised increase of 6.5 percent in April. On a year-over-year basis, sales of new single-family homes were up 13.5 percent in May, representing the first year-over-year increase since April 2010. The South region was the only region where sales of new single-family homes improved, increasing 2.4 percent. Sales of new single-family homes were flat in the Midwest region whiles sales declined in the Northeast and West regions by 26.7 percent and 3.5 percent respectively. Despite the slowdown in new single-family home sales, the median sales price of new single-family homes improved 2.6 percent in May to $222,600. The number of new single-family homes for sale declined 2.3 percent 167,000 units, representing 5.6 months of supply at the current sales rate.
  • 06.21.2011
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales fell 3.2 percent to a seasonally-adjusted rate of 4.24 million units sold in May. This is a drop from the downwardly revised 4.38 million units sold in April and a 15.4 percent decline from May of 2010. The median price of existing single-family homes rose to the highest level of the year to $166,700 in May, however this is down 4.5 percent from median price of homes this time last year. Throughout the nation, the Midwest experienced the greatest decrease as homes sales and prices fell 23.1 and 8.0 percent, respectively from last year. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) believes that it was temporary factors (such as the rise in gasoline prices and severe weather in April) that held back closings in May. Going forward, the NAR expects the second half of the year to be much stronger than both the first half of this year and the second half of 2010 despite stricter standards within the lending community.
  • 06.16.2011
  • Housing Starts
  • Single-family housing starts rose 3.7 percent in May, following an upwardly revised 3.3 percent decline in April. The pace of single-family housing starts improved to 419,000 annualized units but remains 8.9 percent below May 2010’s pace. Single-family housing starts improved in the Midwest, South, and West regions 12.5 percent, 1.9 percent, and 15.6 percent respectively while single-family housing starts declined 19.1 percent in the Northeast. Housing permits also improved in May, increasing 2.5 percent to 405,000 annualized units but remains 6.9 percent below May 2010’s level of 435,000 annualized units.
  • 06.14.2011
  • Retails Sales
  • Retail sales slipped down 0.2 percent in May following a 0.3 percent gain in April. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales are up 7.7 percent. Performance was mixed across broad categories. Notably, sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers fell 2.9 percent in May after a 0.7 percent decrease in April, dragging down the headline series (which rose 0.3 percent in May after excluding this category). Nominal sales at gasoline stations edged up 0.3 percent in May (likely as gasoline prices stabilized), compared to its 12-month (price-induced) 22.3 percent gain. Elsewhere, sales at furniture and home furnishing stores and electronics and appliance stores fell for the second consecutive month, decreasing 0.7 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively, in May. Nominal sales in May also fell at food and beverage stores (down 0.5 percent), sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (down 0.4 percent), and general merchandise stores (down 0.1 percent). Sales at the remaining 7 (out of 13) broad categories were up in May, led by miscellaneous store retailers (up 2.1 percent), nonstore retailers (up 1.2 percent), and health and personal care stores (up 0.8 percent). An alternative gauge 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 five months. The near-term (3-month) annualized growth rate in core retail sales has slipped a bit in recent months—from 10.2 percent in March to 4.7 percent through May, and is now trending slightly below its year-over-year growth rate of 6.1 percent.
  • 06.01.2011
  • Construction Spending
  • In April, private construction ticked up slightly for a gain of 1.7 percent over the month. While spending is down about 10 percent over the year, the April increase is the largest we’ve seen in five months. Both residential and nonresidential construction spending posted gains over the month, but residential came in much stronger (up 3 percent over the month) than nonresidential (up 0.5 percent over the month). All of the gains in residential spending came through home improvement spending, which was up 7.6 percent over the month from a downwardly revised March number. Interestingly, spending on home improvements is down as much as spending on new housing over the year, about 12 percent. On the nonresidential side, six industries were down over the month while five were up, bringing the topside number to $250.8 billion (seasonally adjusted annual rate). Nonresidential spending is currently around levels last seen in 2005. Notably, manufacturing experienced a small decrease over the month, after increasing in February and March.

  • 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.
  • 05.24.2011
  • 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.
  • 05.19.2011
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 05.12.2011
  • 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.
  • 05.02.2011
  • 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.
  • 04.29.2011
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income rose 0.5 percent (non-annualized) in March, following a 0.4 percent gain in February. On a year-over-year basis, personal income is up 5.3 percent (its highest growth rate since June 2008). Disposable personal income increased 0.6 percent in March and is up 4.6 percent over the past year. After adjusting for price changes, “real” disposable personal income ticked up 0.1 percent in March and is up 2.7 percent over the past year. Real personal consumption expenditures rose 0.2 percent during the month, following upwardly revised gains in January and February. Momentum as been to the upside recently, as both the 3- and 6-month annualized growth rates in real consumption—which stand at 3.1 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively—are higher than its longer-term (12-month) growth rate (2.7 percent). The personal savings rate remained at 5.5 percent in March—a level its been oscillating around over the last six months or so.
  • 04.26.2011
  • Housing Price Indexes
  • The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index reported that both the 10- and 20-city composites were down 1.1 percent from January. Compared to February 2010, the 10-City composite fell 2.6 percent and the 20-city composite was down 3.3 percent. Detroit was the only city to post a increase from January, while Washington D.C. is the only city to post levels higher than last February.

    The FHFA reported that U.S. housing prices in February continued to decline for the fourth consecutive month since November 2010. Prices fell 1.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from January’s steeply revised index value of 184.8 and 5.7 percent from one year earlier. Across all census divisions prices fell between 11.8 and 2.9 percent, with the greatest decline coming from the Mountain region which contains, among other states, Arizona and Nevada. Overall prices are still 18.6 percent below April 2007 peak which continues weaken the already struggling housing market.

  • 04.25.2011
  • New Home Sales
  • Sales of new single-family homes recovered in March, improving 11.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 300,000. March’s increase follows an upwardly revised decline of 13.5 percent in February. On a year-over-year basis, sales of single-family homes were down 21.9 percent in March, representing eleven consecutive months of declines. Sales of new single-family homes improved in the Northeast, Midwest, and West regions increasing 66.7 percent, 12.9 percent, and 25.9 percent, respectively. Sales in the South declined 0.6 percent following an increase of 1.2 percent increase in February. The median sales price improved 2.9 percent to 213,800,following an upwardly revised February decline of 13.1 percent. The number of single-family homes for sale stood at 182,000, representing 6.3 months of supply at the current sales pace.
  • 04.20.2011
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Preceded by a sharp downturn in February, existing single-family home sales and prices in March were up 4.0 and 2.3 percent, respectively. The pace of sales is also up to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 4.4 million units, while the inventory of existing single-family homes is up 0.7 percent to 3 million units. Across all four census regions the South posted the strongest sales gains of 8.6 percent, followed by the Midwest up 2.1 percent, the Northeast up 1.0 percent, and West remaining even with February’s sales. Compared to March 2010, however, sales and prices are down 6.5 and 5.3 percent nationally, indicating that while the national recovery is gaining momentum, the housing market still remains rather uneven.
  • 04.19.2011
  • Housing Starts
  • Single-family housing permits and starts rebounded in March after taking a significant dip in February. The pace of starts was up 7.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted rate of 422,000, over the upwardly revised February figure of 392,000. Housing permits were at a seasonally adjusted rate of 405,000, which is a 5.7 percent increase from the revised February figure of 383,000. Although we are still well below historic levels, new single-family housing construction growth remains consistent with the pace of the past several months as the economy continues to gradually improve.
  • 04.13.2011
  • Retail Sales
  • Retail sales rose 0.4 percent in March, just below expectations of a 0.5 percent gain. The modest increase in March follows a slight upward revision to February’s increase—from 1.0 percent to 1.1 percent. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales are up 7.1 percent. “Core” retail sales—sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations—rose 0.4 percent in March. Over the past 12 months, this “core” measure of retail sales is up 5.1 percent. Across broad categories, sales were mostly positive, with sales from furniture and home furnishing stores (up 3.6 percent) gas stations (up 2.6 percent), building material and garden equipment and supplies (up 2.2 percent) and electronics and appliances (up 2.1 percent) all increasing more that 2.0 percent. On the downside, sales decreased at miscellaneous store retailers (−2.1 percent), motor vehicle and parts dealers (−1.7 percent) and nonstore retailers (−0.3 percent).
  • 04.07.2011
  • Consumer Credit
  • Consumer credit continued to grow in February, rising 0.32 percent. However, on a year-over-year basis, consumer credit declined 0.65 percent. Non-revolving accounts continued to drive growth in consumer credit, improving 0.64 percent in February and marking the seventh consecutive monthly increase. The continued improvement in non-revolving accounts is likely attributed to strong auto sales, which grew 27.5 percent on a seasonally adjusted year-over-year basis in February. Consumers avoided using their credit cards and other short term loans in February as revolving accounts declined for the second consecutive month, falling 0.34 percent. On a year-over-year basis, revolving accounts are down 6.22 percent.
  • 03.29.2011
  • Home Price Index
  • The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index reported continued month-over-month declines for the sixth consecutive month. In January the 10- and 20-city composites were down 0.9 percent and 1.0 percent, respectively from their December 2010 levels. Compared to January 2010, the 10-city composite reported 2.0 percent decline while the 20-city composite reported 3.1 percent decline. San Diego and Washington D.C. were the only two cities to record positive monthly changes in January as well as maintain positive annual rates throughout 2010.

    The FHFA reported that United States home prices have fallen for the third straight month decreasing .30 percent in January. Meanwhile, December’s reported decline has been revised to an even steeper 1 percent decrease from November’s prices. Compared to last January, home prices have decreased 3.9 percent. January’s prices varied across the nine census divisions relative to December, ranging from a 1.3 percent decrease in the South Atlantic division to a 1.6 percent increase in the West South Central division. Overall home prices are down 16.5 percent below the April 2007 peak which has led to record numbers of all-cash and first-time home buyers.

  • 03.28.2011
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income rose 0.3 percent (non-annualized) in February, following an upwardly revised 1.2 percent gain in January (largely influenced by changes that boosted disposable personal income). On a year-over-year basis, personal income is up 5.1 percent (its highest growth rate since June 2008). Disposable personal income increased 0.3 percent in February, after a 0.8 percent jump up in January as tax changes reduced employee contributions for government social insurance and the “Making Work Pay” provisions from the 2009 ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) ended, a partially offsetting factor. Excluding the effects of the tax changes, the release noted that disposable personal income would have risen 0.2 percent in January and 0.3 percent in February. After adjusting for price changes, “real” disposable personal income slipped down 0.1 percent in February and its 3-month annualized growth rate fell from 3.6 percent in January to 2.4 percent in February, slightly below its 12-month trend of 2.7 percent. Real personal consumption expenditures increased 0.3 percent in February, largely on a 1.4 percent pop-up in durables purchases, and is up 2.5 percent over the past year. The personal savings rate slipped down from 6.1 percent to 5.8 percent during the month, though it has been oscillating around 6.0 percent since mid-2008.
  • 03.23.2011
  • New Home Sales
  • Sales of new single-family homes fell 16.9 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 250,000, representing an all-time low since the series began in January 1963. On a year-over-year basis, sales of new single-family homes are down 28.0 percent, falling for the tenth consecutive month. Sales of new single-family homes were down in every region, with sales declining 57.1 percent, 27.5 percent, 6.3 percent and 14.7 percent in the Northeast, Midwest, South and West respectively. The median sales price plummeted 13.9 percent from January to 202,100 and is down 8.9 percent since February 2010. The number of single-family homes for sale at the end of January stood at 183,000, representing a 9.6 months’ supply at the current sales pace. While part of February’s poor performance could be attributed market distortions resulting from the expiration of the California tax credit in December and poor weather conditions that made home shopping difficult, the majority of February’s decline is likely attributed to continued weakness in the housing sector.
  • 03.16.2011
  • Housing Starts
  • Single-family housing starts lost ground in February, plummeting 11.8 percent and falling to their lowest level since March 2009. The decline follows a small increase of 1.4 percent in January. The pace of starts is currently 375,000 annualized units, which is 28.8 percent below February 2010’s pace. Only the South region saw an improvement in single-family housing starts, rising 3.9 percent. The Northeast, Midwest, and West declined 20.4 percent, 31.2 percent, and 25.5 percent, respectively. Additionally, single-family housing permits declined 9.3 percent, falling to 382,000 annualized units, which is 27.0 percent below February 2010’s pace. The weakness in single-family housing starts and permits was attributed to a high level of foreclosed homes, which has reduced the demand for new construction.

  • 03.07.2011
  • Consumer Credit
  • Consumer credit rose for the fourth consecutive month, increasing 0.2 percent in January. The growth in credit was driven by an increase in non-revolving account balances, which were up 0.6 percent in January and are up on a year-over-year basis 1.6 percent. The strength in non-revolving account growth was attributed to a reduction in auto loan write-offs. Revolving accounts continued their decline, falling 0.5 percent in January and are down 7.2 percent on a year-over-year basis. Revolving account balances had fallen for twenty-seven consecutive months before increasing 0.25 percent in December.
  • 02.28.2011
  • Personal Consumption Expenditure
  • The Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) price index rose at an annualized rate of 3.5 percent in January, largely on spiking energy prices. Excluding volatile food and energy prices (core PCE), the index rose 1.5 percent during the month and is up just 0.8 percent on a year-over-year basis (0.1 percentage point above its lowest growth rate on record). After excluding non-market-based items, such as financial services furnished without payment, the core PCE price index rose 1.0 percent in January, compared to a 0.2 percent increase in December, and is trending at 0.8 percent over the past 12 months.
  • 02.24.2011
  • Housing Price Indexes
  • The S&P/Case-Shiller monthly house price indexes continued to fall, with the 10-city and 20-city composite indexes declining 0.85 percent and 0.96 percent, respectively. December’s report marks the indexes’ fifth consecutive decline, with the 10-city and 20-city year-over-year growth rates falling deeper into negative territory and down 1.2 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively. There were only two metro areas in December’s report that showed year-over-year price growth—San Diego and Washington. The weakness in the indexes was attributed to the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit and the exhaustion of the positive momentum that the incentive had generated.

    The monthly FHFA house price index declined for the second consecutive month in December, falling 0.3 percent from its November level. On a year-over-year basis, the index declined 3.4 in December, which was an improvement over November’s year-over-year decline of 4.6 percent. The decline in the index was attributed to lingering unemployment and large inventories of for-sale homes.

  • 02.24.2011
  • New Home Sales
  • In January, sales of new single-family homes slowed to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 284,000, representing a 12.6 percent decrease over the month and a 18.6 percent decrease over the year. January’s decline represents the ninth straight month of slowing home sales, on an annual basis. The South and West were responsible for the monthly decrease, as they registered declines large enough to offset moderate increases in sales in the Northeast and Midwest. At the same time, the median sales price ticked down slightly from December’s level, but it is up 5.68 percent since January 2010. The number of single-family homes for sale at the end of January stood at 187,000, essentially unchanged from December’s level, representing a 7.9 months’ supply at the current sales pace. During the recession, the supply of homes on the market peaked at a 12.1 months’ supply. While the supply has been somewhat depleted, it still stands at about double its pre-recession norm of a 3 to 4 months’ supply.
  • 01.31.2011
  • Personal Consumption Expenditure
  • The Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) price index rose at an annualized rate of 3.8 percent in December, largely on spiking energy prices. Excluding volatile food and energy prices (core PCE), the index rose just 0.4 percent percent during the month and is up just 0.7 percent on a year-over-year basis (its lowest growth rate on record). After excluding non-market-based items—such as financial services furnished without payment—the core PCE price index rose 0.4 percent in December, compared to a 1.1 percent increase in November, and is trending at 0.8 percent over the past 12 months.
  • 01.26.2011
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family homes sold at an annual rate of 329,000 units in December, representing a 17.5 percent increase over November’s downwardly revised pace of 280,000 units and the strongest monthly increase since the early ’90's. Despite the large gain, new home sales are still down 7.6 percent on a year-ago basis. Additionally, most of December’s gain was attributable to activity in the West, as sales in other U.S. regions either increased or decreased by very small amounts. When the West is excluded, sales only increased 1.1 percent. The months’ supply of new single-family homes for sale dropped from 8.4 to 6.9 months at the current sales pace in December, as the inventory of homes for sale fell another 2.6 percent to 190,000 annual units, the lowest since 1968. Months’ supply has calmed down roughly to where it stood in April and is down from a record high of 12.1 months in January 2009. While December’s report was a positive one, overall, the big picture remains that sales are still near record lows, leaving vast room for improvement in 2011.
  • 01.25.2011
  • House Price Indexes
  • The S&P/Case-Shiller Monthly House Price Index took a step backward in the three months ending in November, with the 10-city and 20-city composite indexes falling 0.4 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively. November’s report marks the indexes’ fifth consecutive decline, pushing year-over-year growth in the 10-city index negative for the first time since January, to −0.4 percent. The 20-city index fared even worse, slipping 1.6 percent below its year-ago level. Declines were geographically broad-based, with only four metro areas showing year-over-year price growth—Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

    The monthly FHFA house price index was flat from October to November after having declined four months in-a-row. This recent activity, of course, has not helped bolster year-over-year growth, which dropped another 0.3 percentage point to −4.3 percent in November. Deterioration in the FHFA index since April 2007 has essentially set home prices back to where they were in early 2004.

  • 11.30.2010
  • Home Price Indexes
  • The latest S&P/Case-Shiller and FHFA reports agree: Home prices have been declining solidly, both on a monthly and a quarterly basis.

    The national S&P/Case-Shiller home price index fell a steep 3.4 percent in the third quarter, wiping out the 2.6 percent gain in the second quarter and marking the largest drop since the first quarter of 2009. The four-quarter growth rate relapsed into negative territory, dropping from 3.8 percent to −1.6 percent. Meanwhile, the monthly data revealed that September witnessed the largest of three consecutive price declines, for both the 20-city and the 10-city composite indexes. The 20-city index retreated 0.8 percent and the 10-city index retreated 0.7 percent over the month, dragging their respective 12-month growth rates down to 0.5 percent and 1.5 percent.

    The purchase-only home price index published by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) also dipped in the third quarter, by 1.6 percent. This decline follows a short-lived 0.7 percent gain in the second quarter, which had interrupted a string of eleven quarterly declines. The four-quarter growth rate slumped from −1.8 percent to −3.2 percent. The monthly FHFA index exhibited its fourth consecutive decline in September, and the drop was shared by all Census divisions except the East South Central, which encompasses Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama. September's 0.7 percent decline in the total index helped lower the 12-month growth rate from −2.8 percent to −3.4 percent, back to its position in July.

  • 11.24.2010
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment was revised up in November from 69.3 to 71.6, its highest level since June. The current conditions component was revised up from 79.7 to 82.1 in November, while the expectations component was also revised up from 62.7 to 64.8, but is little changed over the past five months. One-year-ahead average inflation expectations were revised up by 0.1 percentage point to 3.7 percent in November, an increase of 0.4 percentage points from October. Longer-term (5-10 year-ahead) expectations were unchanged during the revision at 3.2 percent in November.
  • 11.24.2010
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income jumped up 0.5 percent (non-annualized) in October and, after revisions, was unchanged in September (both real disposable income and real consumption expenditures were revised up). Nominal disposable income—income less current taxes—rose 0.4 percent in October. After adjusting for price changes, “real” disposable income increased 0.3 percent, and is up 2.5 percent over the past year. Real personal consumption expenditures posted its sixth consecutive monthly gain, rising 0.3 percent in October. The series’ 12-month growth rate stands at 2.3 percent. As consumption and disposable income rose similarly in October, the personal savings rate was little changed from an upwardly revised 5.6 percent in September, edging up to 5.7 percent in October.
  • 11.24.2010
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family homes sales dropped 8.1 percent in October, countering expectations for a slight gain and eating away a good portion of September’s 12.0 percent increase. Double-digit declines in the Northeast, Midwest, and West far outweighed the 3.1 percent increase in the South. The annual sales pace of 283,000 units remains camped near record lows and 28.5 percent below the year-ago sales pace. The particularly surprising part of the report was the record 13.9 percent plummet in the median sales price, which clearly lent no support to sales over the month. The median price of a new home sank to $194,900, the lowest in seven years. The number of new single-family homes on the market was virtually flat at 202,000 units, the lowest since 1968. Therefore, the increase in months’ supply of new homes in October—from 7.9 months to 8.6—is not due to a ballooning inventory of homes, but instead to a lack of buyers.
  • 11.23.2010
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales dropped 2.0 percent in October following consecutive gains of 7.1 percent in August and 10.0 percent in September. The current sales rate of 3.9 million annual units puts year-over-year growth at −25.6 percent, back down to its level in July and the lowest since June 1982. However, this year-over-year comparison pits current sales figures next to the surge prior to last year’s initial homebuyer tax credit deadline. National Association of Realtors chief economist, Lawrence Yun, says “sales activity is clearly off the bottom” and should “steadily improve to healthier levels by spring of next year,” despite an uneven recovery. NAR President Ron Phipps adds that several factors are restraining recovery, including overly tight credit and a large share of inaccurate (low) appraisal valuations which have caused many sales to be cancelled or postponed. Inventory of existing single-family homes for sale declined 2.4 percent in October, and months’ supply remained elevated but unchanged at 10.1 months.

  • 11.15.2010
  • Retail Sales
  • Retail sales jumped up 1.2 percent in October, though that was largely due to a 5.0 percent spike in auto sales. Excluding autos, retail sales rose 0.4 percent during the month, following a 0.5 percent gain in September. Across major categories sales were mixed, with large increases at building material and garden supply dealers (up 1.9 percent) and at sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores (up 1.0 percent). Modest decreases were seen at furniture stores, electronic and appliance stores, and department stores. A clearer measure of the trend in retail sales — sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations — rose 0.2 percent in October, the fifth consecutive increase in the series. On a year-over-year basis, “core” retail sales are up 4.6 percent and are trending at an annualized rate of 6.3 percent over the past three months.

  • 10.26.2010
  • House Price Indexes
  • The S&P/Case-Shiller 10- and 20-city indexes each saw small declines in August, dropping 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively. Year-over-year growth in the indexes also weakened to the slowest pace since February, when the series made their post-recession debuts back into positive territory. Year-over-year growth dropped from 4.0 to 2.5 percent for the 10-city index, and from 3.1 to 1.7 percent for the 20-city index. Home prices in the Cleveland metropolitan area declined a fourth consecutive month in August, falling 1.1 percent and leaving them 0.5 percent below their year-ago level. However, since the Cleveland area has the lowest number of sales pair counts (observations) of all metro areas included in the composite 20 index, it tends to see considerable volatility in its measurement of home prices from period to period.

    The FHFA Purchase-Only House Price Index countered the S&P/Case-Shiller index in August, rising 0.4 percent over the month and strengthening year-over-year growth from −3.4 percent up to −2.4 percent. The only region with higher prices since August 2009 was West South Central, and regions hurting the most were the Mountain region, down 7.5 percent from a year ago, and South Atlantic, down 4.9 percent.

  • 10.25.2010
  • Existing Home Sales
  • The housing market continues to give mixed signals, as existing home sales expanding last month with the help of falling home prices. Existing single-family home sales grew for a second straight month in September, rising 10.0 percent after a 7.1 percent increase in August. The annual sales pace was boosted from 3.6 million units to 4.0 million, still a glaring 19.5 percent below the year-ago pace due to the buying buildup prior to the initial tax credit deadline last November. The inventory of existing single-family homes for sale dropped 3.4 percent to 3.38 million units, allowing months’ supply to relax slightly, from 11.6 months in August to a still sky-high 10.2 months in September. The current months’ supply sits well above the 7.6 months’ supply recorded one year ago and higher than averages for any of the past three years. Meanwhile, the median sales price took a 3.1 percent hit over the month, putting prices 1.9 percent below last year’s levels. September marked a third consecutive decrease in prices.
  • 10.15.2010
  • Retail Sales
  • Retail sales continued to improve in September, rising 0.6 percent (nonannualized) in September, following an upwardly revised 0.7 percent gain in August. Increases were fairly broad-based in September, with autos (up 1.6 percent), electronics & appliance stores (up 1.5 percent), and miscellaneous store retailers (up 1.4 percent) leading the way. On a year-over-year basis total retail sales jumped up from 4.1 percent to 7.3 percent during the month. “Core” retail sales—sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations—also showed some relative strength, rising 0.4 percent in September after jumping up 1.0 percent in August (which was revised up from 0.6 percent).
  • 10.01.2010
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income rose 0.5 percent (non-annualized) in August, following a 0.2 percent increase in July. Its 12-month growth rate climbed to 3.3 percent during the month (its highest growth rate since September 2008. Nominal disposable income—income less current taxes—increased 0.5 percent in August. After adjusting for price changes, “real” disposable income rose 0.2 percent, reversing a 0.2 percent loss in July. Still, the series is trending at an annualized rate of just 0.9 percent over the past three months, compared to its 12-month growth rate of 1.7 percent. Real personal consumption continued to post modest gains, rising 0.2 percent in August, its fourth straight monthly increase. The personal saving rate ticked up from 5.7 percent to 5.8 percent during the month and has been bouncing around 6.0 percent for the past five months or so.
  • 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.

  • 09.14.2010
  • 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.
  • 08.31.2010
  • Home Price Indexes
  • The national S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index rose 2.3 percent in the second quarter, reversing the first quarter’s 1.1 percent decline and marking the largest quarterly price increase since the fourth quarter of 2005. The index has advanced in all but one quarter this past year, boosting year-over-year growth further out of the red, to 3.6 percent. However, since second-quarter data include transactions in April and May, which were aided by the government stimulus, performance in the third quarter is not expected to be as strong. The monthly 10-city and 20-city composite price indexes continued to climb, but both slowed from 0.5 percent growth in May to 0.3 percent in June. The 12-month growth rates for both also calmed a little, from 5.4 percent to 5.0 percent for the 10-city index, and from 4.6 percent to 4.2 in the 20-city index.

    Meanwhile, the other major home price index, published by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), also posted second-quarter growth. The FHFA’s Purchase-Only House Price Index advanced a moderate 0.9 percent, ending the parade of quarterly declines begun back in the third quarter of 2007. Year-over-year growth remained in negative territory but improved mildly, from −3.2 percent to −1.6 percent, and has risen from a trough of −8.3 percent in the last quarter of 2008. The FHFA’s monthly home price index, however, posted its first decline in three months, slipping 0.3 percent in June after increasing 0.4 percent in May.

  • 08.30.2010
  • Personal Consumption Expenditures
  • The Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) price index rose at an annualized rate of 2.9 percent in July, as energy prices jumped up 35.9 percent. Excluding food and energy prices (core PCE), the index increased 1.3 percent, compared to a 0.5 percent rise in June. Its 3-month annualized growth rate currently stands at 1.0 percent, 0.4 percentage point below its longer-term (12-month) growth rate.
  • 08.30.2010
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income ticked up 0.2 percent in July, after being unchanged in June. Yet, its 12-month growth rate rose from 2.4 percent in June to 3.0 percent. Nominal disposable income rose 0.2 percent in July. However, after accounting for price effects, “real” disposable personal income slipped 0.1 percent during the month. Over the past year, the series is up 1.4 percent. Real personal consumption rose 0.2 percent during the month, its third straight monthly increase, pulling its 3-month annualized growth rate up from 1.1 percent to 2.1 percent, slightly above its longer-run (12-month) growth rate of 1.9 percent. With the increase in consumption outpacing disposable income growth, the personal saving rate ticked down from 6.2 percent to 5.9 percent in July.
  • 08.27.2010
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan's Index of Consumer Sentiment was revised down slightly in August--from an index value of 69.6 to 68.9--according to the final report. While this is an improvement from a dip down to 67.8 in July, it is still close to the lows seen during the middle of last year. A large part of the floundering in the overall index has been the lack of a rebound in the consumer expectations component--which stands at 62.9 currently after a brief foray near 70, remaining stubbornly near levels from the last April (63.1). One year-ahead average inflation expectations were revised down from 3.4 percent to 3.2 percent during the revision in August, leaving expectations 0.1 percentage points below July's reading. Longer-term (5-10 year-ahead) expectations were also nudged down during late August, from 3.3 percent to 3.1 percent, compared to 3.4 percent in July.
  • 08.13.2010
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment improved modestly in August, rising from an index value of 67.8 in July to 69.6, according to the preliminary report. However, sentiment is still well below its level of 76.0 in June, and it is roughly consistent with its levels during the second half of 2009. While both the current conditions and consumer expectations components improved in August, the expectations component—at 64.1—remains relatively weak. One-year-ahead average inflation expectations ticked up 0.1 percentage point to 3.4 percent, while longer-term (5–10 year-ahead) expectations nudged down from 3.4 percent to 3.3 percent.
  • 08.13.2010
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales rose 0.4 percent in July, following a 0.3 percent decrease in June and a 1.0 percent decline in May. However, the details are much less supportive of the headline bounce-back. Sales were up in only five of the major categories, led by strong increases in two relatively volatile series—autos and gasoline stations. Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers rose 1.6 percent in July, after a 1.3 percent decline in June, while sales at gasoline stations popped up 2.3 percent (likely on increasing gas prices). A less-noisy measure of the trend in retail sales—sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations—actually fell 0.1 percent during the month and is virtually unchanged over the past three months, diverging from its 12-month growth rate of 4.0 percent.
  • 08.03.2010
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income was up negligibly in June (0.02 percent) following a 0.3 percent gain in May. The 12-month growth rate in personal income now stands at 2.6 percent, below the recent high in March of 3.0 percent. Disposable personal income rose less than 0.1 percent over the month, while nominal consumption expenditures dropped less than 0.1 percent. The personal savings rate (as a percentage of disposable income) rose for the third month in-a-row, from 6.3 percent in May to 6.4 percent in June, and is at its highest since June 2009. After adjusting for price effects, “real” personal income rose 0.2 percent in June after a 0.4 percent increase in May.
  • 07.26.2010
  • New Home Sales
  • Monthly data for new home sales continue to be volatile and heavily skewed by the effects of the homebuyer tax credit. New single-family home sales rose dramatically in June, by 23.6 percent, after plummeting an even larger 36.7 percent in May. Despite June’s increase, the annual pace of sales sits at just 330,000 units, only second to May as the slowest pace on record. The monthly Census data are subject to revision and have behaved erratically in recent months surrounding the tax credit deadline. However, even the smoother quarterly data have shown three consecutive declines, starting with the last quarter of 2009. Year-over-year growth in sales now sits at −16.7 percent, up from −27.2 percent recorded in May. The months’ supply of new single-family homes dropped to 7.6 from 9.6 months, reflecting June’s sales jump and a 1.4 percent decrease in the inventory of homes on the market.
  • 07.22.2010
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales fell 5.6 percent in June to an annual sales pace of 4.7 million units, but sit 8.5 percent higher than the 4.53 million-unit pace in June 2009. The median home price was $184,200 in June, up 1.3 percent over the last year, with ten out of the nineteen reported metropolitan statistical areas observing year-over-year price growth. June’s slowdown in sales was accompanied by a 4.3 percent increase in the inventory of existing single-family homes on the market, causing months’ supply to rise from 7.8 to 8.7 months at the current sales pace, its highest since August 2009. National Association of Realtors chief economist, Lawrence Yun, attributed the recent large swings in home sales to buyers’ responses to the tax credit extensions and cutoff. “Broadly speaking,” he commented, “sales closed after the home buyer tax credit will be significantly lower compared to the credit-induced spring surge. Only when jobs are created at a sufficient pace will home sales return to sustainable healthy levels.”
  • 07.20.2010
  • Housing Starts
  • Single-family housing starts fell for a second month in the aftermath of the homebuyer tax credit, slipping 0.7 percent in June after plummeting 18.8 percent at the cut-off in May. The annual pace of starts was set back to 454,000 units, its slowest since May 2009, and the 12-month growth rate dipped back into negative territory, from 12.6 percent to −4.6 percent. June’s mild decline was attributable to activity in the Northeast (−8.9 percent) and Midwest (−11.3 percent), as the South and the West both saw gains over the month. Permits for single-family housing starts dropped 3.4 percent in June and are down 6.7 percent from one year ago.
  • 06.29.2010
  • Housing Price Indexes
  • The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city Home Price Index resumed growth in April, rising 0.4 percent following small slumps the previous two months. The 10-city index picked up 0.3 percent and has risen solidly since last May, likely reflecting amped-up demand from the homebuyer tax credit program, which expired at the end of April. Year-over-year growth in both indexes also strengthened, as the 20-city index has grown 3.8 percent since April 2009, and the 10-city index has climbed 4.6 percent. California metro areas showed the most improvement over the last 12 months, with home prices appreciating 18 percent in San Francisco, 11.7 percent in San Diego, and 7.8 percent in Los Angeles.

    Growth in the FHFA Purchase-Only House Price Index picked up pace, advancing 0.8 percent in April’s report after inching up 0.1 percent in March. Year-over-year growth is still negative but perked up from −2.7 percent to −1.5 percent.

  • 06.28.2010
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income climbed 0.4 percent (nonannualized) in March following a 0.5 percent increase in April and is trending at a 12-month growth rate of 1.6 percent. Disposable personal income (personal income less current taxes) rose 0.4 percent while nominal consumption expenditures inched up 0.2 percent during the month. The personal savings rate (as a percentage of disposable income) rose from 3.8 percent to 4.0 percent in May, its highest level since last September. After adjusting for price effects, “real” personal income increase 0.3 percent in May and is trending at an annualized 3-month growth rate of 2.8 percent over the past three months, slightly above its year-over-year growth of 2.6 percent.
  • 06.23.2010
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales slipped down 1.6 percent in May following two increases of nearly 8 percent in March and April. Sales have been volatile over the last six months, varying from a record drop of 950,000 annual units last December to gains in the mid-300,000’s. At 4.98 million annual units, the current sales pace sits 23 percent above its November 2008 trough but about 13 percent (730,000 units) shy of the recent peak in November 2009. Year-over-year sales growth slowed slightly in May but remains at a respectable 17.5 percent. The inventory of existing single-family homes for sale dropped 4.7 percent in May, outpacing the decline in sales and bringing the months of supply down from 8.1 to 7.8 months. The supply is now 1.9 months lower than in May 2009. Year-over-year growth in the median sales price held onto positive territory for a second straight month but weakened from 3.9 to 2.7 percent. Prior to April, the sales price had seen over three and a half years of negative 12-month growth.
  • 06.23.2010
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family home sales plummeted 32.7 percent in May, undoubtedly driven by the deadline for the homebuyers’ tax credit at the end of April. The larger-than-expected decline set back the annual sales pace, now at 300,000 units, to its slowest since records began 1963. In fact, May’s sales pace decline was not only larger-than-expected but came in a whole 70,000 units below the low end of analysts’ consensus range. All regions of the U.S. showed a significant drop, particularly the South and the West, which accounted for 80 percent of the total decline over the month. This dismal report comes after more than a whole year of stable (but low) reported sales, apparently propped up in large part by the government’s tax credit program. Given the noise surrounding this program, though, it is difficult to discern any definitive trend or signal from the data. Year-over-year growth obviously took a hit with this report as well, diving all the way from 30.8 percent growth down to −18.3 percent. The Northeast and Midwest were the only regions with positive year-over-year growth.

    New single-family homes for sale slipped a slight 0.5 percent, and due to the oversized fall in sales, the months’ supply of new homes at the current sales rate rose quite dramatically, from 5.8 months to 8.5. Months’ supply began descending from its peak 12.1 months in January 2009, but the increase accompanying this report elevates months’ supply back up to its June 2009 level.

  • 06.16.2010
  • Housing Starts
  • Single-family housing starts dropped a greater-than-expected 17.2 percent in May, reflecting the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit and following a string of four consecutive monthly gains. Before the plummet, the annual pace of starts had climbed to its strongest since August 2008. The current pace of 468,000 units, however, is now its weakest since May 2009. By region, May’s decline was led by the South, where activity fell 26.8 percent. Activity dipped 10.9 percent in the Midwest but only declined about 2 percent in the Northeast and West. Single-family starts still sit 15 percent above their year-ago pace, but this is down from near-50 percent growth reported between February and April.

    Building permits for single-family homes also fell in May (9.9 percent) and are now up just 3.1 percent over the last year, down from average year-over-year growth of 40 percent in the first quarter.

  • 06.11.2010
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales slipped down 1.2 percent (nonannualized) in May, its largest decrease since last September, but is trending at an annualized growth rate of 6.0 percent over the past three months. While the headline number seems dour, the details are a little more sanguine. Price effects likely played a role in May’s decrease, as oil prices fell and some component prices have been trending lower as of late. Nominal sales fell at gasoline stations (down 3.3 percent), clothing and accessory stores (down 1.3 percent), and general merchandise stores (down 1.1 percent), but price effects likely played a role as oil prices fell during the month and those component prices have been trending lower as of late. Also, sales of building materials and at garden equipment and supply dealers plummeted 9.3 percent in May (its largest decrease since the series began in 1992), following two consecutive months of above 8.0 percent growth. However, building material sales get picked up in residential construction, and the pattern of sales is likely influenced by the expiration of the first-time home-buyers tax credit. A measure of “core” retail sales, designed to give us a clearer look at the underlying trend—sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations—inched up 0.1 percent in May, following a slight dip in April (−0.2 percent). The 3-month annualized growth rate in core retail sales fell from 7.7 percent to 2.0 percent in May, though the series is still up 4.4 percent over the past year.
  • 06.11.2010
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment increased from an index value of 73.6 to 75.5 in early June. The modest gain was enough to push the series back near its highs seen at the beginning of the recession (78.4 in January 2008). The overall increase came as the current economic conditions component rose from 81.0 to 82.9, and the expectations component edged up from 68.8 to 70.7 in June. Still, the expectations component has been relatively stagnant over the past year, up just 1.5 index points from last June, “signaling that consumers expect a very slow pace of economic growth in the year ahead,” according to the release. Inflation expectations slipped down slightly in June. One-year-ahead average inflation expectations fell by 1.0 percentage point in June to 3.1 percent (the median ticked down from 3.2 percent to 2.8 percent); while longer-run (5- to 10-year-ahead) average expectations slid down from 3.4 percent to 2.8 percent during the month (with the median edging down from 2.9 percent to 2.7 percent). Interestingly, the monthly variance in the longer-run expectations slipped down to its lowest level since April 1999, more than halving its average variance since the recession began.
  • 05.28.2010
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income climbed 0.4 percent (nonannualized) in April following an identical increase in March. The 12-month growth rate slipped slightly from its recent high in March, from 2.8 percent down to 2.5, but remains higher than any other month since September 2008. Disposable personal income (peronal income less current taxes) rose 0.5 percent while nominal consumption expenditures were flat, resulting in a personal savings rate (as a percentage of disposable income) of 3.6 percent, up from 3.1 percent in March. April’s flat consumption follows six straight monthly gains, which have lifted year-over-year growth to 4.6 percent, up from a record low of −2.0 percent in the midst of the recession. The personal savings rate has edged down from its peak last May of 6.4 percent, as consumers’ spending has outpaced income growth in seven of the eleven months since then. After adjusting for price effects, real income was still up 0.4 percent in April, and personal consumption expenditures still came in flat.
  • 05.28.2010
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment rose back up to 73.6 in May’s final report, matching its readings in February and March and erasing its 1.4-point slip in April. Sentiment has pulled up from a recession low of 55.3 and sits just below January’s recent high of 74.4. The index made much progress throughout 2009 but has remained relatively flat so far in 2010. Improvement in the consumer expectations component drove the overall increase in May, rising 2.3 points to 68.8, while current economic conditions remained unchanged at 81.0. One-year-ahead average inflation expectations climbed 0.3 percentage point to 4.1 percent in May, slightly higher than the average recorded over the last five years, and longer-run (5- to 10-year-ahead) expectations rose from 3.2 percent to 3.4 percent during the month, in line with the average since 2005.
  • 05.26.2010
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family home sales surged again in April, rising 14.8 percent after March’s upwardly revised 29.9 percent jump. The sharp climb over these last couple of months has brought the sales pace to 504,000 annual units, its strongest since mid-2008. All U.S. census regions saw moderate to large gains except for the Northeast, where sales were flat. Inventory of new single-family homes on the market dropped a record 7.0 percent, causing the months’ supply at the current sales rate to drop from 6.2 to 5.0 months in April. The months’ supply has fallen measurably since its recession peak of 12.1 back in June 2009, and has deflated all the way down from 10.6 months a year ago last April. The boost in sales from the first-time homebuyers’ tax credit has been particularly evident this time around leading up to its extended deadline at the end of April. Since its extension last November, the sales pace has risen 42 percent, from 356,000 annual units up to 506,000.
  • 05.25.2010
  • Housing Price Indexes
  • U.S. home prices continue to chart an indecisive path toward stabilization, aided by the government’s temporary home-buyer tax credit, with mixed performance in the monthly, quarterly, and year-over-year figures. The national S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index declined 1.3 percent in the first quarter, ending a chain of three consecutive increases. However, year-over-year growth in the index was positive for the first time in over three years, at 2.1 percent. The monthly 10-city index advanced 0.2 percent in March, continuing gains begun last June, and the 20-city index was flat after slipping a slight 0.1 percent in February.

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

  • 05.24.2010
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales increased a sizeable 7.4 percent in April following an upwardly revised 7.8 percent gain in March. The annual sales pace lifted to 5.05 million, its highest level since last November just before sales took a dip after the initial deadline of the first-time homebuyers’ tax credit. All regions of the U.S. shared in April’s gain except for the West, and national year-over-year growth climbed from 17.2 percent to 23.5 percent. The National Association of Realtors’ attributed rising home sales to the tax credit inducement, a return of buyer confidence with stabilizing home prices, an improving economy and mortgage rates that remain historically low. The number of existing single-family homes on the market rose by 12.8 percent in April, surpassing the concurrent pickup in sales and boosting the months’ supply to 8.2. Growth in the median sales price of existing single-family homes has gone uninterrupted for three months straight, and April marks the first positive year-over-year growth since July 2006. Last month, March had originally been reported as having year-over-year growth of 0.6 percent, but downward revision eroded it back to −0.1 percent.
  • 05.14.2010
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment edged up in early May, increasing from an index value of 72.2 to 73.3, but is still below its recent high of 74.4, which was reached in January. Both the current conditions and consumer expectations components posted modest increases, contributing to the overall increase. The release noted that, “more favorable views among households with incomes above $75,000,” helped to spur the improvement. As sentiment improved, so did consumers’ inflation expectations. Average year-ahead inflation expectations rose 0.4 percentage point to 4.0 percent in May, tjeor highest level since October of 2008. Longer-term (5-10-year-ahead) expectations ticked up from 3.2 percent to 3.4 percent during the month, matching their average over the last five years.
  • 05.03.2010
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income rose 0.3 percent (nonannualized) in March, following a slight 0.1 percent gain in February. The 12-month growth rate in personal income climbed up 0.8 percentage points (pp) to 3.0 percent in March, its highest growth rate since August 2008. Disposable personal income (personal income less current taxes) rose 0.3 percent during the month, an essentially flat reading in February and a slight dip in January (down 0.2 percent). Even with the uptick in disposable income, the personal savings rate (as a percentage of disposable income) slipped down another 0.3 pp in March, continuing to edge away from its May 2009 peak of 6.4 percent. Nominal personal consumption expenditures outpaced income growth in March, jumping up 0.6 percent, following an upwardly revised 0.5 percent gain in February. After adjusting for price effects, real consumption was almost as strong, rising 0.5 percent in March. The 3-month annualized growth rate in real consumption is now up 4.7 percent, an indicator of near-term strength given its 12-month growth rate of 2.4 percent.
  • 04.30.2010
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment was revised up 2.7 points in April to a final reading of 72.2. Despite this relatively large revision, the index is still 1.4 points below its March level and only 7.1 points above its year-ago level, a low number compared to the double-digit gains seen in every prior month since October. While both components of the index were upwardly revised, the overall revision is mainly due to a 4.2 point improvement from the preliminary report in consumer expectations, as the current economic conditions component was revised up only 0.3 point. Still, both components are 1.4 points below their March levels, with April marking the third straight month of decline in consumer expectations. The current economic conditions component was at its highest level in two years last month, so April’s decline still leaves the index much higher than its record low of 58.4, reached in October 2008. Inflation expectations were unchanged from the preliminary report, which found that one-year-ahead average inflation expectations rose 0.4 percentage point to 3.8 percent in April, while the longer-run (5- to 10-year-ahead) expectations inched up 0.1 percentage point to 3.2 percent.
  • 04.27.2010
  • Housing Price Indicators
  • Growth in the S&P/Case-Shiller 10-city Home Price Index slowed in February, inching up just 0.1 percent after a 0.4 percent increase in January. Meanwhile, the 20-city index pulled back a slight 0.1 percent, breaking the solid streak of gains that started in June 2009. While the February data represent a mild cool-down in progress made over the past eight months or so, the numbers are not so drab as to dampen the indexes’ year-over-year growth. Growth in the 10-city index since last February came in at 1.4 percent and growth in the 20-city index was 0.6 percent, both positive for the first time since December 2006 and up from troughs of nearly −20 percent a little over a year ago.

    The picture from the perspective of FHFA Purchase-Only House Price Index has looked quite different from that of the S&P/Case-Shiller index in recent months. The FHFA index retreated a slight 0.2 percent in February, tacking on the smallest of three consecutive declines. Year-over-year growth, which had a brief positive stint last November, dipped further to −3.4 percent in February. Of all nine U.S. regions tracked by the FHFA, only the West South Central (Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana) and Pacific (Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California) regions have seen home prices grow over the last year.

  • 04.23.2010
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family home sales soared 26.9 percent in March, breaking a chain of four consecutive declines and boosting the annual sales pace to 411,000 units, the highest level since last July. Percentage-wise, the increase was the second largest since records began in 1963. However, despite the outsized uptick, the current sales pace still runs far below historic averages due to the depth of the housing downturn and recession. Year-over-year growth in sales jumped all the way up from −13.8 percent to 22.6 percent. Until this point, year-over-year growth had been solidly negative since December 2005, the only exception being a brief stint of growth last October. Months of supply dropped from 8.6 to 6.7 months in March and have deflated significantly since the 12.4-month peak reached in January 2009. Year-over-year growth in the median sales price currently stands at 4.3 percent and has been positive now for three months straight.
  • 04.22.2010
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales rebounded 7.3 percent in March following three consecutive declines, an indication that the homebuyer tax credit may at last be generating results. All four regions of the U.S. shared the gain, and the national 12-month growth rate bumped up from 4.4 percent to 16.6 percent. According to the release, the National Association of Realtors considers March the beginning of an expected spring surge, and chief economist Lawrence Yun says he is encouraging to see sales above year-ago levels for nine straight months. The current annual sales pace of 4.7 million units is now roughly on par with the pace at the end of 2007 but still falls about 458,000 units (or 8.9 percent) short of the average over the past decade. Despite the 1.4 percent rise in inventory of existing single-family homes in March, the months’ supply relaxed a bit from 8.2 to 7.7, due to the concurrent pick-up in sales over the month. Year-over-year growth in the median sales price climbed out of negative territory for the first time since July 2006, to 0.6 percent. “With home values stabilizing, a revival in home buying confidence will likely help the housing market get back on its feet even as the tax credit impact disappears,” says Yun.
  • 04.16.2010
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment slipped 4.1 points (largest decline since July 2009) in April to 69.5 according to the preliminary report. The index is only 4.4 points above its year-ago level and 4.9 points below January’s recent high of 74.4. Both components of the index contributed to its decline, with current conditions dropping 1.7 points and consumer expectations declining 5.6 (largest drop since February 2009). While sentiment has shown considerable improvement from the recession lows recorded more than a year ago, it has moved horizontally during the past six months with only small monthly variations. According to the release, consumers think the overall economy will continue to improve, however they still hold negative views on their own income and job prospects. Inflation expectations were little changed from March. One-year-ahead average inflation expectations ticked up 0.4 percentage point to 3.8 percent in April, while the longer-run (5- to 10-year-ahead) expectations also increased 0.1 percentage point to 3.2 percent.
  • 03.30.2010
  • Housing Price Indicators
  • The S&P/Case-Shiller 10- and 20-city Home Price Indexes both rose an eighth straight month in January and performed exactly as they had in December, showing respective increases of 0.4 percent and 0.3 percent. Continual increases in home prices recently have surprised expectations on the upside, particularly when set against a backdrop of poor home sales reports. The 12-month growth rates for both series improved in January and currently stand at 0.0 percent for the 10-city index and −0.7 percent for the 20-city index, up from lows of at least −19.0 percent in January 2009.

    Meanwhile, the monthly FHFA Purchase-Only House Price Index dipped 0.6 percent in January following a 2.0 percent decline in December. The FHFA index offers much broader geographic coverage than either of the S&P/Case-Shiller indexes. Although its steady freefall was tamed toward the end of 2008, the monthly index has continued on a slower but still downward path. Year-over-year growth was improving up until last November when it went briefly positive but has since turned south again, coming in at −3.4 percent for January.

  • 03.29.2010
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income was unchanged in February, following an upwardly revised 0.3 percent gain in January. The 12-month growth rate in personal income is now up 2.0 percent, a recent high, though still well short of the roughly 5.0 percent growth rate seen in the months before the recession. Wage and salary growth and disposable income were also flat in February. As disposable income growth has stalled recently, the savings rate has continued to edge away from its May 2009 peak of 6.4 percent, slipping down to 3.1 percent in February. Nominal personal consumption expenditures rose for the fifth consecutive month, increasing 0.3 percent in February. After adjusting for price effects, real consumption was still up 0.3 percent during the month, and it is up 1.6 percent over the last year. The overall consumption gain came on a strong (0.9 percent) jump in purchases for nondurables and a modest increase in spending on services. Consumption of durables slipped down 0.2 percent in February, following a 0.7 percent decrease in January, though it is still up 3.2 percent on a year-over-year basis.
  • 03.26.2010
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s index of consumer sentiment was revised up 1.1 points in late March to an index value unchanged from February’s reading of 73.6. Though this is still well below the levels seen in the years leading up to the start of the recession, it is a vast improvement from the cyclical low of 55.3 reached in November 2008. The current conditions component of the release was revised up 1.6 points to 82.4, its highest level since March 2008. The consumer expectations component was also revised up, by 0.7 point, though it is still slightly lower than February’s reading. One-year-ahead average inflation expectations were revised down from 3.5 percent to 3.4 percent in March, down 0.2 percentage point (pp) from February. The longer-run (5- to 10-year-ahead) expectations remain at 3.1 percent, 0.2 pp lower than February’s reading.
  • 03.24.2010
  • New Home Sales
  • The pace of new single-family home sales weakened further in February, declining 2.2 percent to a 47-year low of 308,000 annual units. The drop was pervasive in all regions of the U.S. except the West, which saw a 21 percent increase. January’s report was revised upward, from an 11.2 percent drop in sales to a still-weak 8.7 percent drop. Year-over-year growth slipped from −4.3 percent to −13.0 percent in February, and since recent months have seen nearly solid declines, shorter-term growth looks even shabbier, at −24.5 percent for the past six months. The estimate of new single-family homes for sale in February came in at 236,000, representing a 1.3 percent increase over January and 9.2 months− supply at the current sales rate. After peaking last January at a whopping 12.4 months, the months− supply relaxed slowly to 7.3 in October but has been on-the-rise again ever since.
  • 03.23.2010
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales slipped 1.4 percent in February following larger declines of 16.6 percent in December and 6.9 percent in January. As a result, the annual sales pace sagged further to 4.37 million units, its lowest pace since last June, and the 12-month growth rate slowed from 8.6 percent to 4.3 percent. While 12-month growth has been positive for nine consecutive months, the series has slowed tremendously since reaching its recent peak in November of 41.3 percent. Inventory of existing single-family homes rose to 2.99 million units, representing an 8.2-month supply at the current sales pace, up from a 7.6-month supply in January. The median home price was $164,300 in February, down 2.1 percent from February 2009. Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, comments that “although (total) sales have been higher than year-ago levels for eight straight months and home prices are much more stable compared to the past few years, the housing recovery is fragile at the moment. If we see a surge in home buying comparable to last fall in the months leading up to the original tax credit deadline, then enough inventory should be absorbed to ensure a broad home price stabilization.”
  • 03.12.2010
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales rose 0.3 percent (nonannualized) in February, surprising estimates of a slight decline. Perhaps even more impressive was the overall gain came as autos tumbled down 2.0 percent during the month. Excluding autos, retail sales jumped up 0.8 percent in February and are up 4.2 percent on a year-over-year basis. Moreover, sales rose in every broad category except for autos and health and personal care stores. Increases were led by strong gains at electronics and appliance stores (up 3.7 percent) and miscellaneous retailers (up 2.5 percent). An addendum measure meant to get at “core” retail sales—sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations—jumped up 0.9 percent in February, leading to an increase in its 3-month annualized growth rate, which improved from 4.9 percent to a relatively strong 5.2 percent in January. Over the past 12 months, the series is up 2.5 percent.
  • 03.01.2010
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income rose 0.1 percent (nonannualized) in January, the smallest of six consecutive increases. This follows a downwardly revised increase of 0.3 percent in December and brings the series’ 12-month growth rate to 1.1 percent, its first positive growth rate since December 2008. Private industry wages and salaries rose a relatively strong 0.3 percent. Disposable personal income fell 0.4 percent, its first loss since July. Personal savings as a percentage of disposable income fell 0.9 percentage points to 3.3 percent, the lowest level since October 2008, though it is still well above the 1.4 percent savings rate seen at the beginning of the recession. Nominal personal consumption expenditures rose 0.5 percent for the third time in four months. “Real” personal consumption, which adjusts for price effects, climbed 0.3 percent in January to its highest level since May 2008, though its 12-month growth rate is 0.3 percentage point lower than last month’s, at 1.4 percent.
  • 02.26.2010
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales fell 6.9 percent in January after a 16.9 percent plunge in December, entirely erasing large gains made last year from September to November. At an annualized 4.4 million units, sales have retreated back to their mid-2009 pace but still stand 8.6 percent above the 4.1 million pace last January. Listings of homes available for sale increased 1.4 percent, lifting the months of supply at the current sales pace from 6.9 to 7.6 months. Although months’ supply has been creeping up the past two months, 2010 is off to a better start than the 9.2 months’ supply observed at the onset of 2009. The median sales price of existing single-family homes sold in January, which is not seasonally adjusted, dropped 3.5 percent from December but held steady on a year-ago basis. “The latest monthly sales decline is not encouraging, and raises concern about the strength of a recovery,” says chief economist Lawrence Yun of the National Association of Realtors. However, he adds “Activity should be picking up strongly in late spring as buyers take advantage of the tax credit, which is critical to absorb distressed properties reaching the market and to continually chip away at inventory.”
  • 02.26.2010
  • Consumer Senitment
  • The University of Michigan’s Survey of Consumer Sentiment was revised down a slightly in late February, from an index value of 73.7 to 73.6. This is down from January’s reading of 74.4, but still well above some readings from the depths of the recession. Importantly, most of the gains in the overall index have come from the current conditions component in recent months, which have risen from a current cyclical low of 57.5 in November 2008 to 81.8 in February. On the other hand, the consumer expectations component, at 68.4, has been relatively stagnant over the past 10 months, suggesting further pessimism among respondents. One-year-ahead average inflation expectations were revised up from 3.3 percent to 3.6 percent in February, up 0.2 percentage point (pp) over January. More importantly, longer-run (5- to 10-year-ahead) expectations were revised down by 0.1 pp to 3.3 percent in February, unchanged from January.
  • 02.25.2010
  • Housing Price Indicators
  • The S&P/Case-Shiller 10- and 20-city Home Price Indexes rose at a modest pace of 0.3 percent in December, extending the string of recent gains into a seventh month. Year-over-year growth in the 10-city composite index rose from −4.5 percent to −2.4 percent, and the 20-city composite index rose from −5.3 percent to −3.1percent. Both indexes have shown steady improvement on a year-over-year basis since reaching their January troughs of roughly −19.0 percent. The U.S. national index, meanwhile, inched up 0.3 percent from the third quarter to the fourth, the smallest of three straight quarterly gains. The index is now down just 2.5 percent from a year earlier, a significant easing from larger declines in the rest of 2009.

    The monthly FHFA Purchase-Only House Price Index sank 1.6 percent compared to its November level and by 1.5 percent compared to December 2008. December declines held true for all Census divisions except the Middle Atlantic, which includes New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The quarterly index was virtually unchanged in the fourth quarter of 2009, declining only 0.1 percent compared to the previous quarter and by 1.3 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2008. Although home prices in the section of the market covered by the FHFA index (those purchased with conforming mortgage loans) continue to drop, the rate of decrease has slowed considerably in the past year.

  • 02.24.2010
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family home sales plummeted 11.2 percent in January to a record low annual sales pace of 309,000 units. Sales have fallen in five of the past six months, erasing the mild recovery made between April and July last year after the previous low was reached in January. Declines were seen in all regions of the U.S. except the Midwest. Longer-term trends are weak, with three of the four regions posting large year-over-year declines. Home sales are down by 20 percent in the Northeast, 7.5 percent in the Midwest, and 10.5 percent in the South. The West is an exception, with sales up 13.8 percent over the past year. January’s drop comes as somewhat of a surprise, considering analysts had expected a slight gain. However, a report released last week shows promise for future demand, as construction permits for single-family homes rose for a third consecutive month.

    The number of new homes on the market increased for the first time in January following a streak of declines spanning two and a half years. Accompanied by the large sales decline, the months’ supply of new homes at the current sales pace jumped 1.1 months in January, from 8.0 to 9.1, the highest since May 2009.

  • 02.12.2010
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Survey of Consumer Sentiment ticked down a minor 0.7 index point to 73.7 in February, though the series is up roughly 31 percent on a year-over-year basis. While the overall index was relatively stable, the underlying components posted modest changes. The current economic conditions component rose 3.0 index points to 84.1 (its highest level since March 2008, but still well below pre-recession norms). The consumer expectations component slipped down from 70.1 to 66.9 in February, and, while well off a current cyclical low of 49.2 reached in June 2008, it has slipped down from a recent high of 73.5 in September 2009. The release attributed this middling path to sentiment that the jobless rate will remain stubbornly high and that the “majority expected recurrent economic weaknesses over the next several years.” One-year-ahead average inflation expectations ticked down 0.1 percentage point to 3.3 percent in February, while the longer-run (5- to 10-year-ahead) expectations edged up from 3.3 percent to 3.4 percent during the month, matching their averages since 2005.
  • 02.12.2010
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales jumped up 0.5 percent (nonannualized) in January, following a upwardly revised 0.1 percent dip in December. Over the past 12-months, retail sales are up 4.7 percent, a far cry from the −10.9 percent growth rate seen during the depths of the recession (December 2008). Across the broad sales categories, performance was mostly positive. However, there were a few relatively large dips. Furniture and home furnishing store sales (−1.4 percent), building material & supply stores (−1.2 percent), miscellaneous store retailers (−1.1 percent). Sales of motor vehicles and at parts dealers were flat in January, following a slight gain in December. An addendum measure meant to get at “core” retail sales—sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations—jumped up 0.8 percent in January, after a slipping down 0.3 percent in December, leading to an increase in its 3-month annualized growth rate, which improved from 3.4 percent to a relatively strong 5.6 percent in January. The 12-month growth rate in ?core? retail sales was fairly stable at 2.7 percent.
  • 02.01.2010
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income rose 0.4 percent (nonannualized) in December, following an upwardly-revised 0.5 percent gain in November. The 12-month growth rate in personal income is up 0.5 percent, its first positive growth rate in a year. Disposable personal income posted its fifth consecutive monthly gain, increasing 0.4 percent in December. Personal savings as a percentage of disposable income ticked up from 4.5 percent in November to 4.8 percent in December, averaging 4.6 percent for all of 2009, a stark contrast from a 1.7 percent savings rate just two years ago. Nominal personal consumption expenditures increased 0.2 percent in December, after a relatively strong 0.7 percent gain in November (that was revised up by 0.2 percentage points). After adjusting for price effects, “real” personal consumption ticked up a slight 0.1 percent in December, and is now up 1.8 percent on a year-over-year basis. Gains in both durable goods and services consumption more than offset a 0.8 percent decrease in nondurables, its first decrease in five months.
  • 01.29.2010
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment rose modestly in January, achieving a new cyclical high. The index rose to 74.4 from December’s 72.5 and a preliminary reading of 72.8. The current conditions component was most responsible for the gain over December, but the consumer expectations component drove the upward revision from the preliminary report. Inflation expectations rose, with the median one-year ahead expectation increasing to 2.8 percent from 2.5 percent in December, and the five-year outlook rising to 2.9 percent from 2.7 percent.
  • 01.27.2010
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family home sales posted another decline in December, falling 7.6 percent after a 9.3 percent drop in November. Sales have declined four out of the past five months, wiping away gains made earlier in the year from April to July. At 342,000 annual units, the sales pace has been set back just below April’s pace and sits only slightly above the record low in January of 329,000 annual units. Performance in December varied widely by region, with sales declining in the Midwest and South but picking up mildly in the Northeast and West. The number of unsold new homes on the market declined for the thirty second consecutive month, but because sales have also been heading south, the months’ supply rose from 7.6 to 8.1 months at the current sales pace. The median sales price of single-family homes still lags its year-ago level by 3.6 percent, but the series has generally been riding an upward trend since last winter.
  • 01.26.2010
  • Housing Price Indicators
  • The S&P/Case-Shiller 10- and 20-city indexes both posted modest 0.2 percent increases in November, marking the sixth consecutive gain for each. The indexes are still down on a year-over year basis, −4.5 percent for the 10-city index and −5.3 percent for the 20-city index, but they have steadily been rising from January?s trough of roughly −19.0 percent.

    The FHFA purchase-only house price index, meanwhile, rose at a faster pace of 0.7 percent in November, lifting its 12-month growth rate positive for the first time since September 2007, albeit to just 0.5 percent. Performance was split across regions. By Census division, all but one assigned the largest index weights contributed to December’s price increase, and the largest of the gains were seen in the Pacific and South Atlantic divisions. Divisions with smaller index weights, such as New England and East South Central, saw mild declines for the most part. However, it is generally true that areas seeing the most growth in recent months were the same ones to see the worst drops after house prices peaked a couple of years back.

  • 01.25.2010
  • Exisiting Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales fell a larger-than-expected 16.8 percent in December following three straight months of growth exceeding 8 percent. The drop-off likely is attributable to the conclusion of the first-time homebuyers’ tax credit, and it pulled the annual sales pace down from 5.76 million units to 4.79 million. The months’ supply of existing single-family homes at the current sales pace rose from 6.2 to 6.9 months due to the steep sales decline, despite the simultaneous 8 percent retreat in inventory of homes for sale. For the first time since July 2006, the median existing-house price is up year-over-year, at $177,500.
  • 09.29.2009
  • Housing Price Indexes
  • The S&P/Case-Shiller 10- and 20-city indexes both advanced at a quicker pace in July, rising at respective rates of 1.3 percent and 1.2 percent over the month. July marks the indexes’ strongest gain since April 2005 and only the second increase since April 2006. The improved performance in recent months has gradually pulled the 12-month growth rates up from their January low of about −19.0 percent. The growth rates for both rose at least two percentage points, with the 10-city index now at −12.8 percent over the past year and the 20-city index at −13.3 percent. The FHFA purchase-only index increased 0.3 percent in July, bringing its 12-month growth rate to −4.1 percent, up a percentage point from June and a low of −8.8 percent in November 2008.
  • 08.25.2009
  • Housing Price Indexes
  • The national S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index rose 1.4 percent in the second quarter after falling by a record 6.8 percent in the first quarter, marking the index’s first increase since 2006. Home prices rose on a year-over-year basis for the first time since the third quarter of 2006, rising from −19.1 percent to −14.9 percent. The monthly data also showed improvement, with the 10- and 20-city indexes advancing for the first time since May 2006, both at a rate of 0.7 percent. This helped boost the 12-month growth rate to −15.1 percent for the 10-city index and −15.4 percent for the 20-city index, up nearly two percentage points.

    The FHFA Purchase-Only House Price Index advanced 0.5 percent in June and has been fluctuating in and out of positive territory since January. The series’ 12-month growth rate now stands at −4.9 percent, up a percentage point from May and a low of −8.9 percent in November 2008. On a quarterly basis the total FHFA index, which includes data from refinancing transactions, dropped 2.4 percent after slight gains in the previous two quarters, causing the four-quarter growth rate to match its 40-year all-time low of −4.0 percent. The quarterly purchase-only index decreased at roughly the same 0.7 percent pace in the second quarter, but out-performed every quarter in 2008. This lifted the four-quarter growth rate from −7.1 percent to −6.1percent.

  • 02.24.2009
  • Housing Price Indexes
  • The national S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index declined 6.5 percent in the fourth quarter, the largest quarterly decline in the short history of the series which began in 1987. On a year-over-year basis, home prices are now down 18.2 percent, also the largest decline on record. The monthly data was a little more encouraging as the 12-month growth rates in each both the 20-city and 10-city composite indexes were down only slightly at −18.5 percent and −19.2 percent, respectively.

    The FHFA House Price Index declined 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter compared to a decline of 2.6 percent in the third quarter. The four-quarter growth rate in the index declined from −3.9 percent to −4.5 percent in 2008:Q4, a new record low. The purchase-only index—which does not include data from refinancing transactions—declined 3.4 percent over the quarter yielding a four-quarter growth rate of −8.2 percent, also a record low.

  • 11.25.2008
  • Housing Price Indexes
  • The quarterly S&P/Case–Shiller HPI (seasonally adjusted index) fell 3.7 percent (nonannualized) in the third quarter, compared to a 3.0 percent decline in the second quarter. The four–quarter growth rate dropped to a new low of −16.6 percent. Another major home price index, the FHFA's Purchase–Only HPI (formerly the OFHEO Purchase–Only HPI) continued to fall in the third quarter, declining 1.8 percent, compared to a 1.4 percent decrease in the second quarter. Over the past year, the FHFA Purchase–Only HPI is down 6.0 percent. The FHFA’s all transactions HPI (not seasonally adjusted)—which includes data from new home sales and refinancings—has fallen 4.0 percent over the past four quarters. Methodological differences between the Case-Shiller and FHFA house price indexes (such as the use/non–use of nonconforming mortgages and sampling different geographical areas), leads to some dissimilarity between the indexes. However, the overall trend is both indexes is roughly the same.
  • 04.11.2008
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan?s Index of Consumer Sentiment slipped another 6.3 points in April, falling to 63.2, a level consistent with past recessionary episodes. The consumer expectations component fell to 53.4, its lowest reading since December 1990. Short-term average inflation expectations jumped up a full percentage point from 4.6 in March to 5.6 in April. The movement in longer-term (5-year to 10-year) average inflation expectations was less dramatic, rising 0.2 percentage point to 3.4 percent.