Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Second Quarter GDP Upwardly Revised from 2.6% to 3.0%

Real GDP for the second quarter of 2017 grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.0%, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s revised estimate, up from the advance estimate of 2.6%. The general picture of economic growth remained the same. Last quarter’s growth was the strongest since the first quarter of 2015.
The increase in the estimate was mostly due to personal consumption expenditures and nonresidential fixed investment being larger than previously estimated.
The upward revision to consumer spending reflected upward revisions to exports, federal government spending and private inventory investment.

Residential fixed investment and state and local government spending were both downwardly revised, offsetting a larger second quarter increase.

Read the GDP release.
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ADP: 237,000 Jobs Added in August

The non-farm private sector added 237,000 jobs in August, according to the ADP National Employment Report. July’s figure was revised up from 178,000 to 201,000. The trade, transportation and utilities job sector accounted for 23.6% of August’s growth.
Businesses of all sizes saw steady increases. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees rebounded from added 48,000 jobs, while medium-sized businesses with 50-499 employees created 74,000. Large businesses had an especially strong month, adding 115,000 jobs.

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said, “The job market continues to power forward. Job creation is strong across nearly all industries, company sizes. Mounting labor shortages are set to get much worse. The initial BLS employment estimate is often very weak in August due to measurement problems, and is subsequently revised higher. The ADP number is not impacted by those problems.”

Service-providing employment rose by 204,000 jobs, driven by the trade, transportation and utilities services sector which added 56,000. The health services sector had a robust report, adding 42,000 jobs. The information sector was the only services industry that didn’t increase, shedding 3,000 jobs. Goods-producing employment grew by 33,000 jobs. The manufacturing industry gained 16,000, while the construction sector led the way, adding 18,000 jobs.

Read the ADP report.
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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Consumer Confidence Strengthened in August

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index increased 2.9 points to 122.9 in August, the second consecutive monthly increase, though last month’s index was downwardly revised from 121.1 to 120.0. The Present Situation Index rose 5.8 points to 151.2, the fourth consecutive monthly increase. The Expectations Index grew 1.0 point to 104.0 after posting a 3.4 point increase in July.
“Consumer confidence increased in August following a moderate improvement in July,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ more buoyant assessment of present-day conditions was the primary driver of the boost in confidence, with the Present Situation Index continuing to hover at a 16-year high (July 2001, 151.3). Consumers’ short-term expectations were relatively flat, though still optimistic, suggesting that they do not anticipate an acceleration in the pace of economic activity in the months ahead.”

Consumers’ labor market outlook was mixed in August. The percentage of consumers expecting more jobs in the coming months declined from 18.5% to 17.1%, and the share of those anticipating fewer jobs decreased marginally from 13.2% to 13.0%. However, income expectations improved, as 20.9% of consumers expected their incomes to increase in coming months, down from 20.0% in July. The proportion expecting a decline fell from 9.5% to 7.8%.

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Friday, August 25, 2017

Durable Goods Orders Fell 6.8% in July

New orders for manufactured durable goods decreased 6.8% in July to $229.2 billion, following a 6.4% June increase, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. July’s figure was the largest monthly decline since August 2014. Transportation equipment, down three of the last four months, drove the decline, falling 19.0% to $74.3 billion over the month.
New orders excluding defense fell 7.8% on the month, while orders of nondefense capital goods slipped 20.2% to $67.5 billion.

Shipments of manufactured durable goods, increased 0.4% to $237.4 billion. This followed a virtually unchanged figure in June.

Inventories of manufactured durable goods continued to rise, growing 0.3% to $398.8 billion, following a 0.5% June increase and growth in twelve of the last thirteen months.

Read the Census release.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Existing-Home Sales Declined in July

Existing-home sales decreased 1.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.44 million in July, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Sales are 2.1% above a year ago, but are at the lowest level of 2017.
“Buyer interest in most of the country has held up strongly this summer and homes are selling fast, but the negative effect of not enough inventory to choose from and its pressure on overall affordability put the brakes on what should’ve been a higher sales pace,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Contract activity has mostly trended downward since February and ultimately put a large dent on closings last month.”

The total housing inventory fell 1.0% to 1.92 million homes available for sale, while the median existing home price dropped to $258,300, up 6.2% from July 2016 ($243,200). This marks the 65th straight month of year-over-year gains.

Distressed sales were 5% of the total in July, unchanged from a year. Four percent of sales were foreclosures and 1% were short sales.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

New Home Sales Fell to Seven-Month Low in July

New single-family home sales declined to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 571,000 in July, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The July level was 9.4% below the upwardly revised June rate of 630,000 and 8.9% below the July 2016 estimate. July’s sales were the weakest figure since December.
Sales grew 6.2% in Midwest but fell in each of the other regions. The Northeast, South and West posted losses of 23.8%, 4.1% and 21.3%, respectively.

The median price of a new home was $313,700, up 0.7% from June. The average price was $371,200.

At the end of July, the estimated supply at the current sales grew to 5.8 months.

Read the Census/HUD release.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Industrial Production Rose 0.2% in July

Industrial production grew 0.2% in July after 0.4% June increase, according to the Federal Reserve. July represented the sixth consecutive month without a decline.
Manufacturing output fell 0.1% in July after a 0.2% increase in June. Production of durable goods decreased 0.5%, while nondurables edged up 0.4% during the month. Capacity utilization for manufacturing decreased by 0.1 percentage point to 75.4%, a rate that is 3.0 percentage points below its long-run average.

The output of mining continued to rise, increasing 0.5% in July, following an upwardly revised 2.0% June jump. The index in July was 10.2% higher than its year-earlier level.

Utilities increased 1.6% in July, following a 1.2% decline in June. The index in July was 0.6% lower than its year-earlier level.

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Fed Divided Over Timing of Next Rate Hike

The Federal Open Market Committee was divided over when it will next raise the target federal funds rate, which they decided to hold at 1 to 1.25 percent, according to minutes from the FOMC’s July 25-26 meeting. “Some” FOMC members expressed uncertainty about inflation, saying that the committee “could afford to be patient” in deciding when to raise rates, while others said the labor market has neared full employment and a delay in raising rates “would likely be costly to reverse” or “could lead to an intensification or financial stability risks or to other imbalances that might prove difficult to unwind.”

The committee also said its plans to begin reducing the Fed’s balance sheet will be “formally announced next month.” The balance sheet is swollen with $4.5 trillion in securities purchased as part of quantitative easing programs between 2008 and 2014.

FOMC members said they expect continued economic growth and job gains in the near term, and agreed that the timing and size of future rate hikes “would depend on their assessment of realized and expectation economic conditions.” 

Read the FOMC minutes

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Housing Starts Declined in July

Housing starts decreased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.155 million in July, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The decline was 4.8% below the revised June rate of 1.213 million and is 5.6% below the July 2016 rate.
Housing activity decreased in three of the four regions with only the South showing growth, increasing 0.6%. The Northeast and Midwest both saw large declines after a strong June report, falling 15.7% and 15.2%, respectively. The West fell at a slower rate as housing activity decreased 1.6%.
New building permits decreased during the month, falling 4.1% to 1.223 million. However, permits were up 4.1% from the July 2016 rate.

Housing completions were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.175 million, down 6.2% from the revised June estimate but 8.2% above the July 2016 rate.

Read the Census release.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Homebuilder Confidence Soared in August

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index rose to 68 in August, a four point increase from June’s reading.

“Our members are encouraged by rising demand in the new-home market,” said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald, a home builder and developer from Kerrville, Texas. “This is due to ongoing job and economic growth, attractive mortgage rates, and growing consumer confidence.”

All three HMI components posted gains in August. The component measuring current sales conditions rose four points to 74; the component measuring sales expectations in the next six months grew five points to 78, and the component measuring buyer traffic moved up one point to 49.

The regional three-month moving averages for HMI scores showed gains in one of the four regions. The Northeast edged one point up to 48. The West, South and Midwest all remained unchanged at 75, 67 and 66, respectively.

Read the NAHB release.
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Retail Sales Jumped to 7-Month High in July

There were $478.9 billion in retail and food service sales in July, up 0.6% from the previous month and 4.2% from July 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. July’s retail sales were the largest gain in seven months. June’s number was upwardly revised to reflect 0.3% growth.
Core retail sales – excluding automobiles and parts – grew 0.5%. Year-over-year core sales increased 3.8%.

Retail trade sales increased 0.6% from June, up 4.3% from last year. Sales at nonstore retailers increased 1.3% from June, the largest monthly gain since December 2016. Nonstore retailer sales are up 11.5% year-over-year as online retailers continue to grow their market share.

Sales at gasoline stations decreased 0.4% during July, the second consecutive monthly decline, but are up 2.1% from a year ago.

Read the Census release.
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Friday, August 11, 2017

Consumer Prices Increased 0.1% in July

The Consumer Price Index grew 0.1% in July on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the last 12 months, the all-items index rose 1.7%.
Prices for all items less food and energy, the “core CPI,” increased 0.1% in July, the fourth month in a row it increased that amount. The index rose 1.7% for the 12 months ending in July.

The food index increased 0.2% after remaining flat in June. Prices for food at home and food away from home both grew 0.2%. Over the past 12 months, food prices are up 1.1%.

The energy index fell 0.1% in July, the third consecutive monthly decline. The fuel oil index led the decrease, falling 2.0%. However, the energy index still rose 3.4% in the last twelve months.

Read the BLS release.
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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Producer Prices Declined 0.1% in July

Producer prices fell 0.1% in July, seasonally adjusted, after increasing 0.1% in June, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Producer prices rose 1.9% for the twelve months ended July 2017.
The index for final demand goods decreased 0.1% in July after growing 0.1% in the previous month. The index for final demand energy fell 0.3%, the third consecutive monthly decline. Prices for final demand were unchanged after growing 0.6% in June.

Prices for final demand services decreased 0.2% in July, the first decline since February. Prices for final demand transportation and warehousing services led the way, falling 0.8%.

Read the BLS release.
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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Small Business Optimism Rose to Five Month High in July

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index grew to 105.2, its highest reading since February. July’s index was 1.6 points above June’s 103.6 reading. Seven of the ten index components rose, while two declined.
Reported job creation jumped 6 points, as 60% of businesses reported hiring or trying to hire. However, 52% reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. Nineteen percent of employers surveyed cited the difficulty of finding qualified workers as their top business problem. A seasonally adjusted net 19% of owners plan to create new jobs, up four points from the previous month.

Seasonally adjusted, the net percent of owners expecting better business conditions grew four points to a net 37%. The percent of owners reporting higher sales in the past three months compared to the prior three months was zero, a 4-point improvement from June’s reading. Seasonally adjusted, the net percent of owners expecting higher real sales volumes grew five points to a net 22% of owners. Capital spending was unchanged as 57% of owners reported capital outlays. The percent of owners planning capital outlays in the next 3 to 6 months decreased two points to 28%. June’s 30% reading was the highest since September 2007.

Credit conditions remained historically low, as 3% of owners reported that all their borrowing needs were not met, one point lower than June. Only 2% of business owners surveyed reported that financing was their top business problem, compared to 21% citing taxes.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Consumer Credit Growth Slowed in June

Consumer credit increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.9% in June, down from a revised 5.7% rate in May. Total outstanding credit increased $12.4 billion during the month (compared with $18.3 billion in May) to $3.86 trillion.
Revolving credit grew at an annual rate of 4.9% to $1.0 trillion, compared to an 8.2% increase in May. Non-revolving credit rose at a 3.5% annual rate, or $8.2 billion, compared to May’s rate of $11.5 billion. Total non-revolving credit is now $2.83 trillion.

Federal government holdings of student loans continue to be the largest portion of non-revolving credit, comprising approximately 38.0% of outstanding credit. Depository institutions and finance companies are secondary and tertiary holders, with 24.4% and 21.4%, respectively, of outstanding non-revolving credit.

Read the Fed release.
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Friday, August 4, 2017

International Trade Balance Narrowed in June

The U.S. international trade deficit narrowed for the second consecutive month, falling to $43.6 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. June's decrease was down $2.8 billion from a $46.4 billion trade deficit in May. The increase reflected a $2.4 billion growth in exports along with a $0.4 billion decrease in imports.
The goods deficit decreased $2.1 billion to $65.3 billion, while the services surplus grew $0.6 billion to $21.6 billion.

Exports of goods decreased just over $1.7 billion to $129.0 billion in June, driven by a $0.5 billion increase in petroleum products. Exports of services increased $0.6 billion to $65.4 billion.

Imports of goods decreased $0.4 billion to $194.3 billion, mostly due to a significant decrease in crude oil, which fell by $1.4 billion. Imports of services remained unchanged at $43.8 billion in June.

Read the Census/BEA release.
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209,000 Jobs Added in July

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 209,000 in July, a small decrease from June’s upwardly revised figure of 231,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The national unemployment rate fell to 4.3%, staying within a 10 basis point range in the last four months.
Private service-providing industries added a net 183,000 jobs, led by gains in leisure and hospitality, which added 62,000 during the month, and by the health care and social assistance sector, which added 45,000.

Goods-producing employment rose by 22,000 jobs during the month, as gains in durable goods manufacturing led by adding 13,000 in July.

The civilian labor force participation rate was 62.9%, a 0.1% increase from June. Workers unemployed for less than 14 weeks decreased 88,000, while the number of long-term unemployed, those jobless for 27 weeks or more, increased 121,000 and accounted for 25.9% of the unemployed. The number of discouraged workers was 536,000, a 22,000 increase from June.

Average hourly earnings increased by 9 cents to $26.36, after a 5-cent increase in June. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have risen by 65 cents, or 2.5%.

Read the BLS release.
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Thursday, August 3, 2017

ISM: Non-Manufacturing Sector Grew in July

The ISM Non-Manufacturing Index registered 53.9 points in July, 3.5 percentage points below June’s figure. This was the 91st consecutive month of growth. Fifteen non-manufacturing industries reported growth in July, while two reported contraction.
Growth in the Business Activity Index decreased 4.9 points to 55.9. Fourteen industries reported increased business activity and three reported decreased activity. Respondents noted a drop off in business activity, potentially due to the summer, while others noted increased store traffic. 

Non-manufacturing employment grew for the 41st consecutive month. The index decreased 2.2 points to 53.6. Nine industries reported increased employment, while four reported decreased employment. 

The New Orders Index fell 5.4 points to 55.1. Thirteen industries reported increased business activity and one industry reported decreased activity.

Supplier deliveries slowed for the 19th consecutive month, as the index registered 51.0 points (readings above 50 for this index indicate slower deliveries). Seven industries reported slower deliveries, while five reported faster deliveries.

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Manufactured Goods Orders Grew 3% in June

New orders for manufactured goods increased 3.0% to $481.1 billion in June, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It followed a 0.3% decrease in each of the two previous months. June saw the largest gain in eight months.
New orders for manufactured durable goods increased 6.4%% to $245.8 billion in June. Orders for nondefense aircraft and parts drove the increase, jumping 131.1% to $25.3 billion.

Shipments of manufactured durable goods saw no significant change, remaining at $236.2 billion.

Inventories of manufactured durable goods, up eleven of the last twelve months, increased 0.5% to $397.4 billion.

Read the Census release.

Job Cuts Hit 8-Month Low in July

Employers announced plans to cut 28,307 jobs in July, according to a report issued by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the lowest monthly total since November 2016. July’s announced cuts were 9% lower than June’s. The month’s figure was 37.6% lower than July 2016.

The retail sector continues to lead the way in job cuts, with 63,989 so far this year. This is 46.7% higher than the same period last year. However, the energy sector continued to hold strong, announcing 1,614 cuts in July, which brings the total to 8,635 in 2017. This is an 89.1% decrease from this point last year when the energy sector had shed 94,936 jobs.

“While retailers are cutting the most jobs this year, those companies are also announcing the most hiring. These jobs are not the typical retail job, as consumers increasingly turn to online shopping. New retail jobs could be going to places like fulfillment and distribution centers, which increasingly need talent, as well as to workers with the tech skills necessary to interact with and manage the automation that’s revolutionizing the industry,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Telecommunications companies have reported 11,569 job cuts through July this year, 57.5% more than the 7,344 cuts through this point last year.

The service industry shed 2,607 jobs last month, totaling 18,022 through July this year. This is a 131.1% increase from July 2016.

Read the Challenger, Gray & Christmas release.
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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

ADP: 178,000 Jobs Added in July

The non-farm private sector added 178,000 jobs in July, according to the ADP National Employment Report. June’s figure was revised up from 158,000 to 191,000. Professional and business services jobs accounted for 36.4% of July’s growth.
Businesses of all sizes saw steady increases. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees rebounded from a sluggish June, adding 50,000 jobs, while medium-sized businesses with 50-499 employees added 83,000. Large businesses added 45,000 jobs.

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said, “The American job machine continues to operate in high gear. Job gains are broad-based across industries and company sizes, with only manufacturers reducing their payrolls. At this pace of job growth, unemployment will continue to quickly decline.”

Service-providing employment rose by 174,000 jobs, driven by the professional and business services sector which added 65,000. The health services sector had a robust report, adding 41,000 jobs. The education sector saw the smallest increase in service-providing employment, gaining 2,000 jobs. Goods-producing employment grew by 4,000 jobs. The manufacturing industry lost 4,000 jobs after gaining 6,000 in June. It was offset by gains of 3,000 and 6,000 in the mining and construction sectors, respectively.

Read the ADP report.
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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Construction Spending Fell 1.3% in June

Construction spending slowed in June, landing at a seasonally adjusted annual level (SAAL) of $1,205.8 billion, according to the Census Bureau. May’s spending estimate was revised to a rate of $1,221.6 billion. June’s figure is 1.6% greater than the June 2016 estimate of $1,186.4 billion.
Total private construction was $940.7 billion SAAL, a 0.1% decrease from the revised May estimate of $941.3 billion. Total private construction is 5.3% higher than the June 2016 figure.

Private residential construction was $502.9 billion SAAL, 0.2% below May’s downwardly revised rate. June’s figure is 9.2% greater than its June 2016 estimate.

Private nonresidential construction was $437.8 billion, 0.1% above May’s upwardly revised estimate. June’s estimate is 1.1% greater than the June 2016 figure.

Public construction decreased 5.4% to $265.1 billion SAAL. June’s figure is 9.5% below the June 2016 estimate.

Read the Census release.

Manufacturing Sector Expanded for Eleventh Consecutive Month

The ISM Manufacturing Index registered 56.3 points in July, down 1.5 percentage points from the previous month, according to the Institute for Supply Management. July’s reading indicates an eleventh consecutive month of expansion in manufacturing, as readings over 50 points denote expansion. Of the eighteen manufacturing industries, fifteen reported growth, while three reported contraction. Eight of the ten index components grew, while the inventories index was unchanged, and the customers’ inventories index was the only to contract.
The Employment Index decreased 2.0 points to 55.2 in July, indicating expansion for the tenth consecutive month. Eleven industries reported expansion, while three reported a decrease in employment.

The New Orders Index decreased 3.1 points to 60.4 in July, indicating growth for the eleventh consecutive month. Fourteen industries reported expansion, while one reported a decrease in employment.

Export orders decreased 2.0 points to 57.5, indicating growth for the seventeenth consecutive month. Eleven industries reported growth while only one of the eighteen reported a decrease in new export orders.

The inventories index registered 50.0 points, up 1.0 point from the previous month. Seven industries reported higher inventories, while eight reported a decrease.

Read the ISM release.

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Fed Survey: CRE Lending Tightened in Second Quarter

Bankers continued tightening credit for commercial real estate and certain consumer loans in the second quarter of 2017, while residential mortgage lending eased and commercial and industrial standards remained mostly unchanged, according to the Federal Reserve’s latest senior loan officer opinion survey released yesterday.

Regarding CRE lending, 17.3% said they tightened standards somewhat on construction and land development loans, while 21% said they tightened somewhat or considerably on multifamily loans. Twelve percent said they tightened standards somewhat for loans secured by nonfarm nonresidential properties. Lenders noted slightly weaker demand for construction and land development loans and loans secured by multifamily residential properties during the second quarter, and demand for nonfarm residential loans remained unchanged on net.

Commercial and industrial lending standards remained mostly unchanged, though some lenders reported some easing of specific loan terms. Of those, 86.7% said that more aggressive competition from bank or nonbank lenders was a somewhat or very important factor in the decision to ease. Demand for C&I loans was weaker in the second quarter, with lenders citing shifts in customer borrowing to other bank or nonbank sources and decreases in customers’ needs to finance inventory, accounts receivable, investment in plants or equipment and mergers and acquisitions.

Meanwhile, on the residential lending side, lenders saw stronger demand for most categories of residential loans, with most saying that their standards either eased or remained unchanged. Auto lending and credit card standards tightened amidst weaker demand in the second quarter. 

View the survey results