S&P 500 Snapshot: Gains Posted for Second Straight Week
The S&P 500 posted gains for the second straight week after finishing Friday up 0.6%. The index had a mid-week dip but was able to finish up 1.4% from last week. The index is currently up 3.42% YTD and is 17.21% below its record close from January 3, 2022.
CFNAI Components: February Update
The Chicago Fed's National Activity Index, which I reported on earlier this week, is based on 85 economic indicators drawn from four broad categories of data. All four categories made negative contributions in February and three of them worsened from January.
Durable Goods Orders Down 1.0% in February, Worse Than Forecast
February's new orders for manufactured durable goods came in lower than expected at $268.4B, a -1.0% decline from last month compared with the Investing.com 0.6% estimate. The series is up 2.2% year-over-year (YoY), the smallest yearly increase since September 2020. If we exclude transportation, "core" durable goods were unchanged from last month, worse than the Investing.com 0.2% estimate, and up 1.7% YoY.
New Home Sales Up for Third Straight Month
This morning's release of the February new home sales from the Census Bureau came in at 640K, up 1.1% month-over-month from a revised 633K in January. This is below the Investing.com forecast of 650K however it is the highest amount of monthly sales in the last 6 months. and above the Investing.com forecast of 620K. The median home price is now at $438,200, up $11.7K from January on a nominal basis.
Chicago Fed: Economic Growth Declined in February
The Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) fell to -0.19 in February, down from an unrevised +0.23 in January. All four broad categories of indicators used to construct the index made negative contributions in February, and three categories deteriorated from January. The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, moved up to –0.13 in February from –0.27 in January.
Weekly Gasoline Price Update: WTIC Down 9.3% from Last Week
As of March 20, the price of regular and premium gas were down 3 cents and 4 cents from the previous week, respectively. According to GasBuddy.com, Hawaii has the highest average price for regular at $4.81 and Oklahoma has the cheapest at $2.89. The WTIC end-of-day spot price for crude oil closed at $67.82 and is down 9.3% from last week.
Existing-Home Sales Surge in February, Ending 12-Month Streak of Declines
This morning's release of the February existing home sales showed that sales surged to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.58 million units from the previous month's 4.00 million, ending the 12-month streak of monthly declines. The latest number represents a 14.5% month-over-month increase, its largest since July 2020 and well above the Investing.com forecast of 5%. With that being said, existing home sales are down 22.6% compared to one year ago.
World Markets Update: March 20, 2023
Five of eight indexes on our world watch list posted gains through March 20, 2023. France's CAC 40 finished in the top spot with a YTD gain of 8.33%. Germany's DAXK finished second with a YTD gain of 6.94%, and China's Shanghai moved to third with a YTD gain of 4.71%. India's BSE SENSEX finished last with a loss of 5.28% YTD.
Margin Debt Down 2.6% in February
FINRA has released new data for margin debt, now available through February. The latest debt level is at 624.38 billion, down 2.6% month-over-month (MoM) and down 25.3% year-over-year (YoY). However after adjusting for inflation, debt level is down 3.2% MoM and down 29.5% YoY.
Middle-Class Hourly Wages as of February 2023
I've updated this series to include the February release of the consumer price index as the deflator and the monthly employment update. The latest hypothetical real (inflation-adjusted) annual earnings are at $48,172, down 8.2% from 50 years ago. Hourly earnings are below their all-time high after adjusting for inflation.
A Long-Term Look: Residential Building Permits and Housing Starts
Yesterday, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development published their February findings for new residential housing starts and building permits. Over the long haul, the two series offer a compelling study of trends in residential real estate. Here is an overlay of the two series since the 1959 inception of the starts and oermits data, which was tracked beginning a year later.
The Big Four: Industrial Production Unchanged in February
This morning's report revealed industrial production numbers were unchanged in February despite expectations that industrial production would inch up 0.2%. The annual change dropped below zero for the first time in two years to -0.25%, down from last month's year-over-year increase of 0.49%. The annual change was well below the forecast of 3.0%.
CB LEI: Down 0.3% in February, Still Pointing to Risk of Recession
The latest Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for February was down 0.3% to 110.0 from January's final figure of 110.3, marking the 11th consecutive MoM decline. Today's reading was consistent with the Investing.com forecast.
Michigan Consumer Sentiment Drops for First Time in Four Months
The March preliminary report for the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index came in at 63.4, down 3.6 (-5.4%) from the February final. This morning's reading was the first monthly decline in the last four months and came in below the Investing.com forecast of 66.9. Since its beginning in 1978, consumer sentiment is 25.7% below its average reading (arithmetic mean) and 24.7% below its geometric mean.
Inside the Consumer Price Index: February 2023
Let's do some analysis of the Consumer Price Index, the best-known measure of inflation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) divides all expenditures into eight categories and assigns a relative size to each. The pie chart illustrates the components of the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers, the CPI-U.
Philly Fed Manufacturing Index: Activity Declines for Seventh Straight Month
The latest manufacturing index came in at -23.2, up 1.1 from last month's -24.3, marking the index's seventh negative reading in a row.. The three-month moving average is now at -18.8, down from last month and the lowest since June 2020. The six-month outlook was down 9.7 points to -8.0. Since this is a diffusion index, negative readings indicate contraction, positive ones indicate expansion.
Building Permits Climb 13.8% in February
The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have now published their findings for February new residential building permits. The latest reading of 1.524M crushed the Investing.com forecast of 1.340M. Building permits climbed 13.82% from January's revised figure of 1.339M, the largest monthly gain since July 2020.
Housing Starts Jump 9.8% in February
The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have now published their findings for February new residential housing starts. The latest reading of 1.450M was above the Investing.com forecast of 1.310M and is a 9.8% increase from the previous month's revised figure of 1.321M. Housing starts are down 18.4% compared to this time last year.
Inflation Since 1872: A Long-Term Look at the CPI
The Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers (CPI-U) released for February puts the year-over-year inflation rate at 6.04%. It is well above the 3.74% average since the end of the Second World War and above its 10-year moving average, now at 2.55%.
NAHB Housing Market Index: Confidence Edges Higher but Future Outlook Uncertain
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Housing Market Index (HMI) is a gauge of builder opinion on the relative level of current and future single-family home sales. The latest reading came in better than expected (40) at 44, up 2 from last month, and is the index's highest reading in the last six months.
Empire State Manufacturing Survey: Contraction Continues in March
This morning we got the latest Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The diffusion index for General Business Conditions dropped 18.8 points from last month to -24.6. This morning's reading was far below the Investing.com forecast of -8.0. This month's reading marks the fourth consecutive month in contraction territory.
Retail Sales Dip 0.4% in February After Strong January
The Census Bureau's Advance Retail Sales Report for February was released this morning. Headline sales came in slightly below forecast at -0.4% month-over-month. Core sales (ex Autos) came in at -0.1% month-over-month, in line with the forecast.
Producer Price Index: February Headline at 4.6%, Down from January
The morning's release of the February Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand was at -0.1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted, down from last month's 0.3% increase. Core PPI (excluding food and energy) was at 0.0% month-over-month, down from last month's 0.4% increase. Both headline and core PPI came in lower than their respective Investing.com forecasts, with headline expectations at 0.3% and core expectations at 0.4%.
Long-Term Trends in Employment by Age Group
The labor force participation rate (LFPR) is a simple computation: You take the civilian labor force (people age 16 and over employed or seeking employment) and divide it by the civilian non-institutional population (those 16 and over not in the military and or committed to an institution). As of February, the labor force participation rate is at 62.5%, up slightly from last month.
February Inflation: The Components
We are currently seeing some of the highest inflation rates since the second of the two recessions in the early 1980s. Here is a table showing the annualized change in Headline and Core CPI, not seasonally adjusted, for each of the past six months.
U.S. Workforce: February 2023 Update
I've updated our monthly workforceanalysis to include the latest employment report for February. The unemployment rate increased to 3.6%, and the number of new non-farm jobs (a relatively volatile number subject to extensive revisions) came in at 311K.
Consumer Price Index: February Headline at 6.0%, Down from January
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the February Consumer Price Index data this morning. The year-over-year Headline CPI came in as expected at 6.0%, down from 6.4% the previous month (n.s.a). Year-over-year Core CPI (ex Food and Energy) also came in as expected at 5.5%, down from 5.6% the previous month (n.s.a).
The Big Four Economic Indicators: February Employment
This commentary has been updated to include this morning's release of non-farm employment. February saw a 311,000 increase in total non-farm payrolls. The unemployment rate rose to 3.6%. The Investing.com forecast was for 205,000 jobs gained.
Q4 2022 Household Net Worth: The "Real" Story
This is a couple months past its release, but the latest Fed balance sheet shows a total net worth for households and nonprofit organizations that is 149% above the 2009 trough. The nominal Q4 2022 net worth is down up 2.0% from the previous quarter and down 2.7% year-over-year.
The Fed's Financial Accounts: What Are Uncle Sam's Largest Assets?
Pop Quiz! Without recourse to your text, your notes, or a Google search, what line item is the largest asset in Uncle Sam's financial accounts?
- A) U.S. Official Reserve Assets
- B) Total Mortgages
- C) Taxes Receivable
- D) Student Loans
January Trade Deficit Widens to $68.2B
The U.S. international trade in goods and services, also known as the FT-900, is published monthly by the Bureau of Economic Analysis with data going back to 1992 and details U.S. exports and imports of goods and services. The headline number of -$68.2B was better than the -68.9B Investing.com forecast, however it is the largest gap we have seen in the last 3 months.
The Latest Look at the Total Return Roller Coaster
Here's an interesting set of charts that will especially resonate with those of us who follow economic and market cycles. Imagine that five years ago you invested $10,000 in the S&P 500. How much would it be worth today, with dividends reinvested but adjusted for inflation? The purchasing power of your investment has increased to $13,687 for an annualized real return of 6.29%.