Thursday September 18 2014
US Housing Starts Fall Sharply in August
U.S. Census Bureau | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com

Privately-owned housing starts in August were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 956,000, 14.4 percent below the revised July estimate of 1,117,000. It is the biggest drop since April of 2013.

Single-family housing starts in August were at a rate of 643,000; this is 2.4 percent below the revised July figure of 659,000. The August rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 304,000. Year-on-year, housing starts rose 8 percent above the August 2013 rate of 885,000.

Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in August were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 998,000. This is 5.6 percent below the revised July rate of 1,057,000, but is 5.3 percent above the August 2013 estimate of 948,000. Single-family authorizations in August were at a rate of 626,000; this is 0.8 percent below the revised July figure of 631,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 343,000 in August.




Thursday September 18 2014
US Jobless Claims Down to 8-Week Low
DOL | Nuno Fontes | nuno@tradingeconomics.com

In the week ending September 13, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 280,000, a decrease of 36,000 from the previous week's revised level. It is the lowest figure since late June.

The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 315,000 to 316,000. The 4-week moving average was 299,500, a decrease of 4,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 304,000 to 304,250. 

There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims. 

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.8 percent for the week ending September 6, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending September 6 was 2,429,000, a decrease of 63,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for insured unemployment since May 19, 2007 when it was 2,417,000. The previous week's level was revised up 5,000 from 2,487,000 to 2,492,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,481,750, a decrease of 18,250 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since June 23, 2007 when it was 2,477,250. The previous week's average was revised up by 1,250 from 2,498,750 to 2,500,000. 




Wednesday September 17 2014
US Fed Renews Zero Interest Rate Pledge
Federal Reserve | anna@tradingeconomics.com

The Federal Reserve confirmed its commitment to keep interest rates near zero for a “considerable time” after asset purchases are completed and said the economy is expanding at a moderate pace and inflation is below its goal.

Extracts from the FOMC statement from Sept 16-17 meeting:

Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in July suggests that economic activity is expanding at a moderate pace. On balance, labor market conditions improved somewhat further; however, the unemployment rate is little changed and a range of labor market indicators suggests that there remains significant underutilization of labor resources. Household spending appears to be rising moderately and business fixed investment is advancing, while the recovery in the housing sector remains slow. Fiscal policy is restraining economic growth, although the extent of restraint is diminishing. Inflation has been running below the Committee's longer-run objective. Longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.

Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. The Committee expects that, with appropriate policy accommodation, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace, with labor market indicators and inflation moving toward levels the Committee judges consistent with its dual mandate. The Committee sees the risks to the outlook for economic activity and the labor market as nearly balanced and judges that the likelihood of inflation running persistently below 2 percent has diminished somewhat since early this year.

The Committee currently judges that there is sufficient underlying strength in the broader economy to support ongoing improvement in labor market conditions. In light of the cumulative progress toward maximum employment and the improvement in the outlook for labor market conditions since the inception of the current asset purchase program, the Committee decided to make a further measured reduction in the pace of its asset purchases. Beginning in October, the Committee will add to its holdings of agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $5 billion per month rather than $10 billion per month, and will add to its holdings of longer-term Treasury securities at a pace of $10 billion per month rather than $15 billion per month.

To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee today reaffirmed its view that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy remains appropriate. In determining how long to maintain the current 0 to 1/4 percent target range for the federal funds rate, the Committee will assess progress--both realized and expected--toward its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation. This assessment will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial developments. The Committee continues to anticipate, based on its assessment of these factors, that it likely will be appropriate to maintain the current target range for the federal funds rate for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends, especially if projected inflation continues to run below the Committee's 2 percent longer-run goal, and provided that longer-term inflation expectations remain well anchored.


When the Committee decides to begin to remove policy accommodation, it will take a balanced approach consistent with its longer-run goals of maximum employment and inflation of 2 percent. The Committee currently anticipates that, even after employment and inflation are near mandate-consistent levels, economic conditions may, for some time, warrant keeping the target federal funds rate below levels the Committee views as normal in the longer run.






Wednesday September 17 2014
US Inflation Rate Falls to 1.7%
BLS | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com

US annual inflation rate slowed for the second straight month to 1.7 percent in August from 2 percent in July, due to falling energy prices. The monthly rate dropped for the first time in sixteen months by 0.2 percent.

The seasonally adjusted decline in the all items index was the first since April 2013. The indexes for food and shelter rose, but the increases were more than offset by declines in energy indexes, especially gasoline. The energy index fell 2.6 percent, with the gasoline index declining 4.1 percent and the indexes for natural gas and fuel oil also decreasing. 

The index for all items less food and energy was unchanged in August; this was the first month since October 2010 that the index did not increase. While the shelter index increased and the indexes for new vehicles and for alcoholic beverages also rose, these advances were offset by declines in several indexes, including airline fares, recreation, household furnishings and operations, apparel, and used cars and trucks.

The all items index increased 1.7 percent over the last 12 months, a decline from the 2.0 percent figure for the 12 months ending July, and the smallest 12-month change since March. The index for all items less food and energy also rose 1.7 percent over the last 12 months. The food index has risen 2.7 percent over the span, while the energy index has increased 0.4 percent.




Monday September 15 2014
US Industrial Production Falls 0.1% in August
US Federal Reserve | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com

US industrial output dropped 0.1 percent in August, following a revised 0.2 percent increase in July. It is the first fall since January driven by lower production of motor vehicles.

The index for manufacturing output decreased 0.4 percent; the declines were the first for each since January. 

The declines in total industrial production and in manufacturing output in August reflected a decrease of 7.6 percent in the production of motor vehicles and parts, which had jumped more than 9 percent in July. Excluding motor vehicles and parts, factory output rose 0.1 percent in both July and August. 

The production at mines moved up 0.5 percent in August, and the output of utilities rose 1.0 percent.

At 104.1 percent of its 2007 average, total industrial production in August was 4.1 percent above its year-earlier level. 

Capacity utilization for total industry decreased 0.3 percentage point in August to 78.8 percent, a rate 1.0 percentage point above its level of a year earlier and 1.3 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2013) average.




Friday September 12 2014
US Consumer Sentiment at 14-Month High
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's consumer sentiment increased to a preliminary reading of 84.6 in September from 82.5 in August. It is the highest figure since July of 2013, as consumers are more confident about future economic conditions.

The barometer of current economic conditions fell to a preliminary 98.5 in September from 99.8 in August. The gauge of consumer expectations rose to 75.6 from 71.3, above forecasts.

The one-year inflation expectations decreased to 3 percent in September from 3.2 percent in August and the five-to-10-year inflation outlook slowed to 2.8 percent from 2.9 percent.




Friday September 12 2014
US Retail Sales Up 0.6% in August
US Commerce Department | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com

US retail and food services sales rose 0.6 percent to $444.4 billion in August, as consumers bought more automobiles. The July to June 2014 percent change was revised from 0.0 percent to 0.3 percent.

Retail sales in motor vehicles stores increased 1.5 percent in August. Sales in building material and garden suppliers rose 1.4 percent and those in sporting stores grew 0.9 percent.

In contrast, sales in general merchandise stores fell 0.1 percent and those in gasoline stations dropped 0.8 percent.

Core sales, which strip out automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services increased 0.4 percent in August. Retail sales excluding automobiles advanced 0.3 percent.

Year-on-year retail sales rose 5.0 percent. Total sales for the June through August 2014 period were up 4.5 percent from the same period a year ago. 




Thursday September 11 2014
US Budget Deficit Shrinks in August
US Treasury | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com

The US budget gap reached USD 129 billion in August of 2014, down 13 percent from a year earlier and slightly better than market expectations.

In August, receipts reached USD 194 billion, up 5 percent year-on-year while the outlays fell 3 percent to USD 323 billion.

The year-to-date deficit was USD 589 billion at the end of August of 2014, the lowest in six years. 




Thursday September 11 2014
US Jobless Claims Up to 10-Week High
U.S. Department of Labor | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com

In the week ending September 6th, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 315,000, an increase of 11,000 from the previous week's revised level. It is the highest figure since late June.

The previous week's level was revised up by 2,000 from 302,000 to 304,000. The 4-week moving average was 304,000, an increase of 750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 500 from 302,750 to 303,250. 

There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims. 

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.9 percent for the week ending August 30, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending August 30 was 2,487,000, an increase of 9,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 14,000 from 2,464,000 to 2,478,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,498,750, a decrease of 15,500 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since June 30, 2007 when it was 2,489,500. The previous week's average was revised up by 3,500 from 2,510,750 to 2,514,250.


Friday September 05 2014
US Unemployment Rate Falls in August
BLS | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com

US jobless rate decreased to 6.1 percent in August from 6.2 percent in July. Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons were down by 1.1 percentage points and 1.7 million, respectively.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates in August showed little or no change for adult men (5.7 percent), adult women (5.7 percent), teenagers (19.6 percent), whites (5.3 percent), blacks (11.4 percent), and Hispanics (7.5 percent). The jobless rate for Asians was 4.5 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier. 

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) declined by 192,000 to 3.0 million in August. These individuals accounted for 31.2 percent of the unemployed. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed has declined by 1.3 million. 

The civilian labor force participation rate, at 62.8 percent, changed little in August and has been essentially unchanged since April. In August, the employment-population ratio was 59.0 percent for the third consecutive month but is up by 0.4 percentage point from a year earlier. 

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed in August at 7.3 million. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job. 

In August, 2.1 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, down by 201,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. 

Among the marginally attached, there were 775,000 discouraged workers in August, little changed from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.4 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in August had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.