Total private construction spending fell 1.4 percent in October after being relatively steady over the previous two months. Private residential construction fell for the twentieth consecutive month, posting a 2.0 percent decline, while private nonresidential construction fell a modest 0.5 percent. The decline on the nonresidential side was the first drop in construction activity in just over a year.
The Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) price index rose 3.4 percent (annualized rate) in September, after a 3.3 percent increase in September. The PCE index excluding food and energy (core PCE) rose 2.1 percent during the month, down from an upwardly revised and elevated core reading last month of 3.0 percent (September's core PCE was originally 2.3 percent). The 12-month growth rate in the core PCE price index ticked up from a 42-month low of 1.8 percent, rising to 1.9 percent in October.
Nominal personal income rose 3.0 percent (annualized rate) in October, following a downwardly revised 4.1 percent increase in September. Wages and salaries increased 1.0 percent in October, following a nearly 8.0 percent spike last month. Disposable personal income (personal income less personal current taxes) grew decidedly less than last month's 5.2 percent gain, rising only 1.6 percent in October. On a nominal basis, consumer spending increased 3.0 percent during the month. However, after adjusting for inflation, real personal consumption expenditures fell 0.4 percent, and on a year-over-year basis, increased only 2.4 percent, their smallest increase since May 2005.
The OFHEO House Price Index experienced its first quarterly decline since 1994, as it fell 0.4 percent in the third quarter of 2007. The purchase-only index, which excludes refinances but only goes back until 1991, fell 0.5 percent in the third quarter, matching its largest decline on record. On a year-over-year basis, both indexes still show home prices appreciating at a modest 1.8 percent rate in the third quarter. Other measures of home prices show outright price declines from a year ago.
New single-family-home sales increased 1.7 percent in October, following five consecutive monthly declines. Despite the small increase, sales are still down nearly 50 percent from their peak in July 2005. The inventory of homes as measured relative to the current sales pace fell for the second consecutive month. However, at 8.5 months it still remains about double the average seen in 2004 and 2005. The median sales price of new single-family homes is down 13.0 percent from October 2006, the largest year-over-year drop since 1970.
Real GDP was revised up from 3.9 percent (annualized rate) to 4.9 percent, according to the preliminary estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The one percentage point adjustment was primarily due to upward revisions to private inventories and exports, and a downward revision to imports. Private inventories added $27.1 billion in the third quarter, after a $17.2 billion revision. Exports were revised up 2.7 percentage points to 18.9 percent, while imports dropped a percentage point to settle at increase of 4.2 percent in the third quarter. Personal consumption expenditures were revised down from an increase of 3 percent to 2.7 percent, partially offsetting the upward revisions. If the preliminary estimate holds, it will be the largest annualized increase in GDP since the third quarter of 2003.
Existing single-family home sales were unchanged in October, after falling a total of 25.7 percent over the previous 7 months. Year-to-date sales are down an annualized 24.1 percent, while the median sales price is down an annualized 8.1 percent. The inventory of existing single-family homes increased from 10.1 months to 10.5 months in October, which is more than double the inventory level seen at any point in 2005.
New orders for durable goods fell 0.4 percent (nonannualized) in October, following a 1.4 percent drop in September, but are still up 4.6 percent year-to-date. Orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft decreased 2.3 percent during the month, following an upwardly revised 1.2 percent increase (from 0.4 percent) in September. Shipments of durable goods crossed into the black after two months of decreases, rising 0.6 percent. Inventories posted a slight monthly increase and are 2.1 percent above last October. Unfilled orders have started to back down from the record year-over-year gains of the pasttwo months, from 21.7 percent in August to 17.9 percent in October.
The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment slid 4.8 points to 76.1 in November, its lowest level in two years, following a 80.9 reading in October. The consumer expectations component dropped 3.9 points to 66.2. The current economic conditions component worsened considerably, falling 6.1 points to 91.5, and is now down 19.8 points from January’s recent high of 111.3 points. Short-term inflation expectations rose from 3.7 percent in October to 4.3 percent in November, returning to rates seen in May after consistently decreasing over the last five months. Longer-term (5 year to 10 year) inflation expectations ticked up from 3.1 percent in October to 3.4 percent in November.
Total housing starts increased 3.0 percent in October, but the numbers were distorted by a 44.4 percent increase in multi-family starts. Single-family starts, which are typically less volatile, fell 7.3 percent over the course of the month. Single-family starts are now at their lowest level since 1991 and have fallen a total of 51.9 percent from their peak in January 2006. The total number of permits authorized, which includes multi-family homes, fell 6.6 percent in October, while permits for single-family homes fell 8.0 percent.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 3.6 percent (annualized rate) in October, its second straight increase after a drop of 1.7 percent in August. The 12-month growth rate now stands at 3.5 percent, up from 2.8 percent. Growth in the CPI excluding food and energy prices (core CPI) slowed to 1.8 percent after climbing to 2.7 percent in September. However, strong price gains in general services were picked up in the median and 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI inflation indicators, as they posted increases of 3.2 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.
Industrial production fell 5.9 percent (annualized rate) in October, its largest drop since September 2005. October's drop followed a 2.1 percent gain in September. However, industrial production is still up 1.8 percent over October of last year. Production fell across all industry groups after strong third-quarter growth; mining, manufacturing, and utilities production fell 4.3 percent, 6.9 percent, and 17.5 percent, respectively during the month.
Total retail sales increased 2.0 percent (annualized rate) in October, after a revised 8.1 percent increase in September and a 0.9 percent revised increase in August. Sales at auto dealers were virtually unchanged from the previous month and as a result, the rise in retail sales excluding autos was identical to the headline increase. Sales at furniture and home furnishing stores continued to fall, dropping 10.5 percent during the month. This month's drop follows a 14.9 percent drop in September and a 7.6 percent drop in August.
The Producer Price Index (PPI) edged up 0.7 percent (annualized rate) in October, following a 14.7 percent jump in September. Prices excluding food and energy (core PPI) for finished goods only were unchanged from a month ago. However, when compared with October 2006, core prices rose 2.5 percent. Further back on the production line, prices showed some signs of acceleration, as core intermediate and core crude goods increased 1.4 percent and 18.7 percent, respectively.
The nominal trade deficit decreased slightly in September, falling $0.4 billion from a downwardly revised August deficit of $56.8 billion. In total for the third quarter of 2007, the trade deficit decreased $5.4 billion to $172.3 billion, its lowest value since the second quarter of 2005. Exports grew 1.1% over the course of the month, in line with the average growth rate seen over the past two years. Import growth was also in line with its two-year average growth rate in September, growing 0.6% over the course of the month. Imports of petroleum products increased 0.2%, as prices rose slightly but the total quantity of petroleum imports fell. Nonpetroleum imports rose 0.6% in September. (Price and quantity data are not seasonally adjusted.)
Import prices advanced 23.9 percent (annualized rate) in October, their largest increase since May 2006, and on a year-over-year basis jumped 9.6 percent in October, compared to September's 5.0 percent increase. Oil is largely the cause for the spike, but nonoil import prices rose 5.8 percent. Export prices posted their largest annualized monthly increase since April 1995, rising 10.8 percent during the month. Increases were broad-based, as prices of both agricultural and nonagricultural exports led to the overall jump.
Nonfarm business sector productivity (output per hour of all persons) surged ahead, rising 4.9 percent (annualized rate) in the third quarter, its largest jump since 2003:IIIQ. Compensation per hour increased 4.7 percent, but after accounting for consumer prices, it rose 2.7 percent, up from last quarter’s decrease of 1.5 percent. Unit labor costs, a measure some use to track the onset of inflationary pressures, were virtually unchanged from the second quarter, falling 0.2 percent; however labor costs are up 4.3 percent from a year ago.
Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 166,000 in October, exceeding expectations, and following increases of 93,000 in August and 96,000 in September. Service-providing industries added 190,000 jobs during the month on strong gains in administrative services and health care. Goods-producing industries lost 24,000 jobs, but employment in the construction industry was virtually unchanged (-5,000). Residential specialty trade contractors dropped 13,000 jobs, but their nonresidential counterpart added 16,000. Local government education services, the source of some major revisions over the past few months, added 34,600 jobs in October for a total gain of 101,400 over the past three months.
New orders for manufactured goods inched up 0.2 percent (nonannualized) in September, following a 3.5 percent decrease in August. Excluding defense, new orders rose 1.3 percent, rebounding from August's 3.9 percent loss. However, durable goods orders fell 1.7 percent. Nondurable orders increased 2.1 percent. Shipments were virtually unchanged from August, while inventories expanded by 0.6 percent in September, its largest increase in a year.
The ISM manufacturing index fell 1.1 points in October to 50.9 (a value above 50 equals growth), its lowest reading since March. The production index took a bit of a hit in October, falling 5 points to 49.6, and is now below 50 for the first time since January. The employment index continued to expand, rising from 51.7 to 52.0 in October. The prices paid index, which had been falling steadily since April, jumped 4 points to 63.0. Inventories expanded during the month, as the inventories index rose 5.6 points to 47.2.
The Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) price index rose 2.7 percent (annualized rate) in September, after falling 0.5 percent in August and posting its first decrease since October 2006. The PCE excluding food and energy (core PCE) rose 2.3 percent, rising from a 1.6 percent increase last month. The 12-month growth rate in the core PCE price remained at a recent (42 month) low of 1.8 percent.
Nominal personal income rose 4.9 percent (annualized rate) in September, following August's upwardly revised 5.5 percent increase. Wages and salaries increased 7.3 percent, their largest increase in six months. Disposable personal income (personal income less personal current taxes) rose 4.8 percent in September, but less than its year-to-date average growth of 6.5 percent. Consumer spending increased 3.8 percent during the month, following 6.5 percent growth in August. Personal saving as a percent of disposable income ticked up slightly, from 0.8 percent in August, to 0.9 percent currently.