Data Updates

Data Updates

February 2013

  • 02.27.2013
  • Durable Goods
  • New orders for durable goods fell 5.2 percent in January. Over the past year, new orders are down 1.0 percent. Much of the decline in the headline number was due to a large decline in transportation equipment (down 19.8 percent in January). Excluding transportation equipment, new orders grew 1.9 percent in January, following gains of 1.0 percent and 1.2 percent in December and November, respectively. Despite the relative strength in the near-term, on a year-over-year basis new orders excluding transportation equipment are up just 3.0 percent. Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft—which is used to evaluate the near-term outlook in equipment and software investment—jumped up 6.3 percent in January. Shipments of durable goods fell 1.2 percent in January, more than reversing a 0.54 percent increase in December. Perhaps more disconcerting is that shipments of non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, which map directly into GDP, fell 0.95 percent in January. On a year-over-year basis, shipments of non-defense cap goods excluding aircraft are up 2.6 percent.
  • 02.26.2013
  • Home Price Indexes
  • All three headline S&P Case-Shiller housing price indexes posted strong annual gains. The national index, down 0.3 percent from the third to the fourth quarter of 2012, rose 7.3 percent since 2011:Q4. Meanwhile, the 10- and 20-city composites rose 5.9 percent and 6.8 percent, respectively in 2012:Q4. With annual growth rates of 9.9 percent and 13.6 percent, Atlanta and Detroit produced their largest year-over-year price changes since the index began in 1991. Home prices in Phoenix continue to soar, as they have risen for eight consecutive months and are up 23 percent since last December. Home prices are now back to mid-2003 price levels.

    The FHFA housing price index rose 1.4 percent from the third quarter to the fourth quarter, representing the third consecutive quarter of growing prices and a 5.5 percent increase since 2011:Q4. Of the nine census divisions, the Pacific division experienced the strongest increase in the latest quarter, posting a 4.2 percent price increase. House prices were weakest in the East North Central division, where prices remained unchanged from the prior quarter. The monthly index rose slightly, up 0.6 percent. However, this is the eleventh consecutive month of growth, showing a sign of sustained improvement. Overall, home prices are back to autumn 2004 price levels.

  • 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.
  • 02.21.2013
  • CPI
  • The headline CPI was flat in January, as falling energy prices offset increases elsewhere in the retail marketbasket. On a year-over-year basis, the CPI is now up 1.6 percent, softening from a growth rate of 2.2 percent back in October as energy prices have headed declined in recent months. Food prices were also a little soft in January, rising just 0.5 percent compared to its previous three-month annualized growth rate of 2.4 percent. However, that’s where the softness ends. Price increases were much more prevalent elsewhere in the index. Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” CPI jumped up 3.1 percent in January, breaking from its near-to-longer term trend. This was the first increase in the core CPI above 3.0 percent since August of 2011 and nearly double its prior three-month annualized growth rate of 1.6 percent. Despite January’s increase, the 12-month growth rate in the core CPI remained at 1.9 percent.

    Our measures of underlying inflation were also elevated relatively to their recent trends, but to a lesser degree. The median CPI rose 2.6 percent in January, compared to its near-term (three-month) growth rate of 2.2 percent and its year-over-year growth rate of 2.1 percent. The 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI increased 2.2 percent during the month, modestly above its year-over-year growth rate of 1.8 percent.

    As for the reason for January’s uptick in underlying inflation, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) pointed to increases in shelter (up 2.6 percent) and apparel prices (up 9.9 percent) as the impetus. However, there’s a little more to this story. The modestly above-trend rise in rents is nothing new, but an examination of the price change distribution reveals an upward shift away from the lower tail. In January, roughly one third of the overall index exhibited a price change of less than 2 percent, compared to roughly half of the index over the past three months. Some of that weight shifted toward the center of the distribution (rising at rates between 2 percent and 3 percent), but there was also a distinct increase in the amount of the index rising at rates in excess of 5 percent (15 percent in January, compared to an average of 9 percent over the past 3 months).

  • 02.20.2013
  • Producer Price Index
  • The Producer Price Index (PPI), rose at an annualized rate of 2.5 percent in January, following three consecutive monthly declines. On a year-over-year basis the PPI is still up 1.4 percent. Producer prices for finished consumer foods rebounded from a sharp decline in December, rising 7.4 percent in January. Energy prices, on the other hand, continued to slip, decreasing 4.9 percent in January and have fallen 1.0 percent from January of last year. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, the “core” PPI rose 2.6 percent during the month, but is up just 2.0 percent over the past three months and 1.8 over the past year. At earlier stages of production, price pressure was mixed, but not markedly so in either direction.
  • 02.20.2013
  • Housing Starts
  • In January, the groundbreaking of new single-family home construction rose to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 613,000 units started. This represents a 0.8 percent increase since December and a 20 percent increase over the past 12 months. Regionally, the West posted the strongest gains on a monthly and annual basis, up 4.5 percent and 46.3 percent, respectively. Elsewhere, all other regions experienced modest double digit annual improvements and the Northeast and Midwest experienced both experienced monthly declines greater than 9 percent. The issuance of single-family housing permits rose 1.9 percent over an upwardly revised December figure and 29.2 percent since last January to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 584,000 permits issued.
  • 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.
  • 02.15.2013
  • Industrial Production
  • Industrial production decreased 0.1 percent (nonannualized) in January, following a 0.4 percent increase in December. On a year-over-year basis, overall production is up 2.1 percent, the lowest year-over-year growth rate since the last recession. Manufacturing production fell 0.4 percent in January while the year-over-year growth rate continues to slow as well increasing 1.7 percent. Breaking down the manufacturing sector, durable and nondurable goods decreased 0.5 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively. Within durable goods manufacturing, motor vehicles and parts posted the largest decreases, falling 3.2 percent in December. Primary metals also posted a notable decline, falling 2.6 percent. Overall capacity utilization dropped 0.2 percentage points to 79.1 percent of capacity which is still 1.1 percentage points below is long run average.
  • 02.13.2013
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales increased at a nonannualized rate of 0.1 percent in January, following increases of 0.5 percent in both November and December. Since January of 2012, retail sales are up 4.4 percent, which is roughly in line with the current near-term trend in year-over-year changes. Auto sales, which contributed to the growth in retail sales over the past few months, declined slightly in January, down 0.1 percent, following increases of 2.7 and 1.2 percent in November and December, respectively. Excluding autos, retail sales increased 0.2 percent in January, after increasing 0.3 percent in December, and have increased 3.6 percent since January of last year. Most individual sectors only saw modest gains or declines during January. Contributing to the monthly gain in total sales were improvements in sales for general merchandise stores (up 1.1 percent), non-store retailers (up 0.9 percent), and sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores (up 0.6 percent). Sectors that saw the largest declines in January were miscellaneous store retailers (down 2.6 percent), health and personal care stores (down 1.0 percent), and clothing stores (down 0.3 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 January, following increases of 0.7 percent in both November and December, and are up 4.0 percent on a year-over-year basis, which is a slight improvement over the average yearly growth rate of 3.7 percent throughout the fourth quarter of last year.
  • 02.13.2013
  • Import and Export Prices
  • Import prices increased 0.7 percent in January after falling a revised −0.5 percent in December (−0.1 percent, previously). January’s gain is in line with the 0.7 percent increase predicted by consensus forecasters. Nonpetroleum import prices ticked up 0.1 percent and petroleum prices jumped 2.9 percent, driving the gain in the overall import price index. On a year-over-year basis, import prices fell for the third consecutive month, declining −1.3 percent in January. Nonpetroleum import prices increased 0.2 percent year-over-year after remaining flat in December and November. Despite their monthly jump, petroleum prices continued to decline on a yearly basis marking losses of −5.9 percent. After two months of relative weak reports, January’s import prices convey some strength which is likely due to the firming of the global economy.

    Export prices edged up 0.3 percent after declining −0.2 percent and −0.6 percent in December and November, respectively. On a year-over-year basis, export prices advanced 1.1 percent marking the fourth consecutive month of yearly gains.

  • 02.08.2013
  • International Trade
  • In December, the U.S. trade deficit contracted $10.1 billion to a level of $38.5 billion ($48.6 billion, previously). December’s contraction marks the largest monthly narrowing since November 2008 and was $7.5 billion greater than the consensus forecasts which had predicted a narrowing of $2.6 billion. Imports fell 2.7 percent—the largest monthly drop since February 2009—to a level of $224.9 billion, while exports expanded by 2.1 percent billion to a level of $186.4 billion. In the fourth quarter of 2012, imports have been rather volatile, marking a 3.7 percent advance in November and a 2.1 percent contraction in October. These swings are likely attributed to the disruption Superstorm Sandy caused to trade activity. On a year-over-year basis, imports fell −2.0 percent after increasing 2.5 percent in November and falling −0.8 percent in October. Exports continued to post yearly gains marking a 4.9 percent advance in December, which is up from November’s 3.3 percent gain and October’s 1.1 percent gain. The trade deficit’s unexpectedly large contraction in December will likely cause trade to be less of a drag on fourth quarter GDP.
  • 02.07.2013
  • Productivity and Costs
  • Nonfarm business sector productivity—real output per hour of all persons—decreased at an annualized rate of 2.0 percent during the fourth quarter, following increases of 1.9 and 3.2 percent in the second and third quarters, respectively. During 2012, productivity increased 0.6 percent, nearly identical to the 0.6 percent increase in 2011. The decrease in productivity during the fourth quarter was due to a 2.2 percent increase in hours worked compared with just a 0.1 percent increase in output. Hourly compensation increased 2.4 percent after increases of 1.3 and 0.8 percent during the previous two quarters. However, after controlling for price changes “real” hourly compensation increased just 0.3 percent during the final three months of the year. Since the fourth quarter of 2011 “real” hourly compensation is up 0.7 percent, a second consecutive quarter of positive year-over-year growth. Unit labor cost, which is measured as hourly compensation per hourly output, increased 4.5 percent after declines in the previous two quarters and has increased 2.0 percent since 2011.
  • 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.
  • 02.04.2013
  • Factory Orders
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased $8.6 billion or 1.8 percent (nonannualized) in December, following a decrease of 0.3 percent in November. Year-over-year growth rates for new orders continue to decrease from higher levels seen earlier in the recovery, increasing 0.7 percent from last December. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.2 percent for the month while the durable goods orders series jumped 4.3 percent and the nondurable goods orders fell 0.3 percent for the month. Nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders (considered a leading indicator of business investment spending) decreased 0.3 percent for the month, however its three-month annualized growth rate, 26.5 percent, has been increasing for three consecutive months. Shipments and unfilled orders of manufactured goods increased 0.4 percent and 0.8 percent for the month, respectively. The unfilled orders-to-shipments ratio now rests at 6.12 percent, roughly where it has been since late 2009. Inventories increased slightly to 0.1 percent, with the inventory/sales ratio at 1.27, remaining stable since late 2009.
  • 02.01.2013
  • The Employment Situation
  • Nonfarm payrolls increased by 157,000 in January, but the real story is the annual benchmark revisions. Reflecting more complete data on unemployment insurance tax records, the level of nonfarm payrolls as of December 2012 was revised up by 647,000. Moreover, the pattern of these revisions make the recent job growth trajectory appear more substantial. We’d previously thought that the average monthly job gain over the past three months of 2012 was 151000—in line with its previous 2012 average. Now that average has been bumped up to 201,000, and even after rolling forward through January’s (now) slight dip, the average payroll growth over the past three months has been an even 200,000. Private payrolls, which advanced by 166,000 in January, were revised up by roughly 700,000 in 2012 (government payrolls were revised down during the year). Importantly, the pattern in the revisions suggests a bit more momentum in the fourth quarter, with private payrolls averaging a monthly increase off 225,000 in the fourth quarter, compared to an average gain of 142,000 in the third quarter. The previous pattern was a much more modest acceleration: 181,000 average in the fourth quarter, relative to a 140,000 average gain in the third.

    Regarding the composition of the private payroll revisions, goods-producing payrolls were revised up by 119,000, reflecting an upward adjustment of 139,000 to construction employment, an upward revision of 20,000 to mining and logging employment, and a 42,000 knockdown to manufacturing payrolls. Private service-providing payrolls were revised up by 580,000, with upward adjustments spread over nearly all the major categories, except for healthcare and social assistance employment, which was revised down by 36,000 in 2012. The household survey was revised to reflect annual population adjustments, though the adjustments were relatively minor and did not effect the labor force participation rate (which is still at 63.6 percent) or the employment-to-population ratio (flat at 58.6 percent in January). The unemployment rate was also virtually unaffected by the population adjustment, though it was nudged up from 7.8 percent to 7.9 percent in January.

  • 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.
  • 02.01.2013
  • Contruction Spending
  • Private construction spending increased 2.0 percent in December to $614.9 billion and is 15 percent higher than in December 2011. Residential construction spending increased 2.2 percent over the month to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of $308.2 billion. New multi-family construction spending increased 6.2 percent in December and is up 57.4 percent year-over-year. New single-family construction posted a monthly gain of 0.8 percent. Private nonresidential construction spending increased 1.8 percent over the month to $306.7 billion and is up 7.6 percent year-over-year. The education and power sectors saw the largest gains of 6.4 and 3.7 percent, respectively. The transportation sector saw the largest decline of 3.7 percent.
  • 02.01.2013
  • ISM Manufacturing
  • The ISM Manufacturing Purchasing Manufacturers Index (PMI) increased 2.9 percentage points in January to 53.1 percent (from 50.2 percent in December) making January the second consecutive month of being above the growth threshold of 50.0. It has also surpassed both the 2012:Q4 average of 50.6 percent, as well as the 2012 average of 51.9 percent. This is the highest the PMI has been since its May 2012 level of 53.5 percent. All five components that make up the PMI were above the growth threshold of 50 and this across-the-board component growth only occurred once in 2012 in September. Specifically, the increases were as follows: new orders (up 3.6 points to 53.3 percent), production (up one point to 53.6 percent), employment (up 2.1 points to 54.0), inventories (up 8 points to 51.0 percent), and a slight decrease in supplier deliveries (down 0.1 points to 53.6 percent). Prices paid also increased by one point to 56.5 percent, its sixth consecutive month above 50.0 percent and highest level since April 2012.