JANUARY 23, 2017

LARGEST INFLATION ADVANCE IN 5 YEARS The Consumer Price Index rose 2.1% in 2016, marking its greatest annual gain since 2011. During 2015, consumer prices only increased by 0.7%. December saw a 0.3% rise for the headline CPI and a 0.2% gain for the core CPI (which excludes food and energy costs). The core CPI […]

JANAURY 16, 2017

RETAIL SALES RISE 0.6% All of this December gain can be attributed to increased car buying and gasoline purchases; in fact, retail sales were flat with those two categories removed. Analysts surveyed by MarketWatch had projected a 0.8% December advance. Census Bureau data shows that online sales rose 13.2% in 2016, while department store sales […]

JANUARY 9, 2017

RISING WAGES, MODERATE HIRING IN DECEMBER The Department of Labor’s latest employment report shows the average hourly wage at $26.00 last month, up 2.9% in a year. That is the largest annualized wage increase seen since June 2009. Payrolls expanded by 156,000 additional hires in December, leaving total 2016 job growth at a 5-year low […]

JANUARY 2017

THE MONTH IN BRIEF While the Dow Jones Industrial Average did not top 20,000 in December, it did advance nicely, gaining 3.34%. The Federal Reserve took its interest rate target to 0.50-0.75%, adjusting the federal funds rate for just the second time in two years; around the world, other central banks held rates steady, and […]

JANUARY 2, 2017

A SURGE IN CONSUMER OPTIMISM The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index continued to climb in December. Analysts polled by MarketWatch projected a reading of 110.0 for the gauge, but it beat that forecast, rising 4.3 points to a 15-year peak of 113.7. The major factor in the gain? Growing expectations of a better economy, particularly […]

DECEMBER 26, 2016

HOUSEHOLD SPENDING SLOWS IN NOVEMBER Last month, consumer spending increased 0.2%, while consumer incomes were flat. November was the first month in nine in which household incomes failed to rise, and the consumer spending advance was half that of October. Even so, with consumer confidence indices and other economic indicators becoming stronger, the November figures […]

DECEMBER 19, 2016

FED RAISES RATES, PLOTS THREE 2017 HIKES Federal Reserve policymakers unanimously chose to raise the benchmark interest rate by a quarter point last week. That was expected; less expected was the central bank’s adjustment to its 2017 dot-plot. Fed officials now see three rate hikes next year instead of two. The move to the new […]

DECEMBER 12, 2016

SERVICE SECTOR LOOKS VERY HEALTHY The Institute for Supply Management’s monthly services index improved 2.4 points in November to a 57.2 reading. Analysts polled by Briefing.com had expected a small gain to 55.6. It was the PMI’s best reading since October 2015, and it marked the 82nd consecutive month of expansion for the non-manufacturing segment […]

DECEMBER 5, 2016

JOBS REPORT SHOWS UNEMPLOYMENT AT 4.6% America’s jobless rate fell to a nine-year low in November as companies added 178,000 net new jobs. The U-6 rate (including the underemployed decreased) 0.2% to 9.3%. There were some negatives: yearly wage growth moderated to 2.5%, and the labor force participation rate ticked down to 62.7%, in part […]

NOVEMBER 28, 2016

STOCKS SETTLE AT ALL-TIME HIGHS An abbreviated trading week was also a historic week on Wall Street, as the four key U.S. equity indices all reached new peaks. At Friday’s closing bell, the Russell 2000 settled at a record 1,347.20 after its fifteenth straight day of gains; it was up 2.37% for the week. The […]

NOVEMBER 21, 2016

YELLEN HINTS STRONGLY AT A RATE HIKE Thursday, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen told Congress that the central bank could raise the benchmark interest rate “relatively soon,” calling current monetary policy merely “moderately accommodative.” She added that Fed officials envision “only gradual increases in the federal funds rate over time to achieve and maintain maximum […]

NOVEMBER 14, 2016

BLUE CHIPS HIT ALL-TIME HIGHS Donald Trump’s unexpected presidential election win did not rattle Wall Street. Instead, bulls saw the prospect of greater federal outlays and less business regulation in the near future. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a new record Friday: 18,847.66. The Dow 30 had its finest week since 2011, gaining […]

NOVEMBER 2016

THE MONTH IN BRIEF Bulls were reined in during October. The S&P 500 lost 1.94% as Wall Street responded unenthusiastically to the fall earnings season. Even though much of the economic news that emerged in October was good, investors saw an interest rate hike on the horizon and remained concerned about an increasingly controversial presidential […]

NOVEMBER 7, 2016

NEW DATA SHOWS BRIGHTER JOBS PICTURE Unemployment fell to 4.9% in October as firms added 161,000 net new workers, but that was just one positive from the Department of Labor’s latest summary of the U.S. employment situation. Year-over-year wage growth reached 2.8%, the best number seen since June 2009, as average hourly pay rose ten […]

OCTOBER 31, 2016

ECONOMY EXPANDS 2.9% in THIRD QUARTER After just 1.4% growth in Q2, this was welcome news. Surging exports and greater inventory investment and federal spending made Q3 the best quarter for the economy in two years, according to the Department of Commerce. The federal government’s core PCE price index was up 1.7% for the quarter […]

OCTOBER 10, 2016

Hiring picked up in the Third quarter Employers added 156,000 net new jobs to their payrolls in September, the Department of Labor stated Friday. The August gain was revised up to 167,000, so monthly job growth averaged 192,000 in Q3, improved from 146,000 in Q2. The unemployment rate ticked up to 5.0% in September; the […]

OCTOBER 2016

THE MONTH IN BRIEF Investors had plenty of news to absorb in September: the latest monetary policy statement from the Federal Reserve, the Wells Fargo fiasco and the crisis involving Deutsche Bank, and a major deal forged between OPEC member nations. Add in the presidential race and a raft of economic data, and you had […]

OCTOBER 3, 2016

NO ADVANCE IN CONSUMER SPENDING Personal spending was flat in August even as personal incomes rose 0.2%. These numbers from the Department of Commerce fell short of expectations: economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 0.2% gain in both categories. In other news linked to consumer spending, the federal government revised second-quarter GDP up to […]

SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

FED WAITS TO RAISE INTEREST RATES Federal Reserve officials decided against a rate hike last week, but two details in the central bank’s latest policy statement suggested an upward move was near. One, the Federal Open Market Committee voted 7-3 against raising the federal funds rate – an unusually close margin. Two, the Fed’s new […]

SEPTEMBER 12, 2016

SERVICE SECTOR SEES WEAKEST GROWTH SINCE 2010 The Institute for Supply Management’s non-manufacturing purchasing manager index came in at a disappointing 51.4 in August, 4.1 points below its July level. While American service industries expanded for a 79th consecutive month, the pace of expansion was the slowest since February 2010, and the monthly drop in […]

SEPTEMBER 2016

THE MONTH IN BRIEF How calm was August? Very. At the close on August 31, the S&P 500 had not moved 1% up or down in a trading session since July 8. The latest round of U.S. economic indicators showed a healthy labor market, solid consumer spending, decent consumer confidence, and bearable consumer inflation. The […]

SEPTEMBER 5, 2016

MODEST JOB GROWTH IN AUGUST Payrolls expanded with 151,000 net new jobs last month, according to the Department of Labor’s latest report. The jobless rate was unchanged at 4.9%, and the U-6 rate tracking underemployment remained at 9.7%. After the release of the data, Wall Street traders saw only a 21% chance of a September […]

AUGUST 22, 2016

IS A 2016 INTEREST RATE HIKE STILL POSSIBLE? According to the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s July monetary policy meeting, some Federal Open Market Committee members felt “that economic conditions would soon warrant taking another step in removing policy accommodation.” Others favored waiting longer to adjust rates, contending that the strong hiring seen in recent […]

AUGUST 15, 2016

RETAIL SALES WEAKEN July was the first month since March without a gain in U.S. retail purchases. The Census Bureau’s latest report showed retail sales were flat last month, a disappointment in the wake of June’s 0.8% climb. Car and truck sales advanced 1.1% during July, but, minus auto buying, retail sales were actually down […]

AUGUST 8, 2016

TWO STRAIGHT MONTHS OF IMPRESSIVE JOB GAINS The Department of Labor provided Wall Street and Main Street with some great news Friday. Last month, the population of Americans with full-time jobs rose by 255,000. About 70,000 of the workers hired in July found employment within the professional and business services sectors. In addition, the huge […]

AUGUST 2016

THE MONTH IN BRIEF The post-Brexit bounce turned into a sustained rally across July. Second-quarter earnings were not as gloomy as anticipated, and core economic indicators often matched or surpassed expectations. Housing news was generally good, and the latest jobs report showed employers hiring in spectacular fashion. Panic did not spread through European markets; in […]

AUGUST 1, 2016

CONFIDENCE INDICES HOLD STEADY Rising half a point from its previous reading, the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index finished July at 90.0. The Conference Board’s monthly household confidence gauge came in at 97.3 last week, near its (revised) June mark of 97.4.1 ROUNDING UP THE LATEST REAL ESTATE NEWS New Census Bureau data shows […]

JULY 25, 2016

GAINS IN HOME BUYING & HOUSING STARTS June brought a 1.1% rise in existing home sales. Analysts, polled by the Wall Street Journal, had forecast a 0.7% decline. In its new report, the National Association of Realtors said 33% of June sales involved first-time buyers, which was a 4-year peak. New Department of Commerce data […]

JULY 4, 2016

SOLID GAINS In CONSUMER SPENDING, CONFIDENCE Personal spending rose 0.4% in May, according to the Department of Commerce, complemented by a 0.2% advance for personal incomes. April’s consumer spending increase was revised up to 1.1%. The Conference Board’s monthly consumer confidence index also improved in June, heading north 5.6 points to a reading of 98.0.1 […]

JULY 2016

  THE MONTH IN BRIEF In June, an overseas referendum affected American stocks more than any domestic event. The United Kingdom unexpectedly voted to leave the European Union, and news of the Brexit rocked financial markets worldwide. Even so, the S&P 500 began to recover quickly – it actually gained 0.09% for the month. Fresh […]

JUNE 27, 2016

BREXIT VOTE BATTERS GLOBAL MARKETS The world reacted to the news Thursday night that U.K. voters had decided to leave the European Union. Germany’s DAX, France’s CAC-40, and Japan’s Nikkei 225 respectively ended their Friday trading sessions with losses of 6.82%, 8.04%, and 7.92%. Wall Street was not hit as hard, but the Dow fell […]

JUNE 20, 2016

RETAIL SALES RISE another HALF-PERCENT This healthy May increase follows the 1.3% gain recorded by the Department of Commerce for April, and offers more evidence that the economy has rebounded from a sluggish first quarter. Core retail sales (minus auto and gasoline purchases) were up 0.4% last month.1   INFLATION CONTINUES TO FIRM According to […]

JUNE 13, 2016

A LITTLE LESS OPTIMISM IN EARLY JUNE On Friday, the University of Michigan’s initial June survey of consumer sentiment showed a slight retreat, with the index coming in at 94.3 versus its final May mark of 94.7. The survey’s chief economist, Richard Curtin, noted “consumers rated their current financial situation at the best levels since […]

JUNE 2016

THE MONTH IN BRIEF Investors did not exactly “sell in May and go away” – the S&P 500 gained 1.53% last month. Oil prices settled into a sweet spot of sorts; they were high enough to soothe analysts, but not so high as to portend gas price spikes for consumers. Fundamental indicators pointed to an […]

JUNE 6, 2016

MAY SAW WEAKEST JOB GROWTH IN 5+ YEARS Did any economist foresee payrolls expanding by just 38,000 jobs in May? The median forecast compiled by MarketWatch projected a gain of 155,000, not the worst number since September 2010. The Department of Labor reduced March and April payroll gains by 59,000 in its new report, meaning […]

MAY 30, 2016

TWO HOUSING INDICATORS HIT MULTIYEAR HIGHS While monthly real estate indicators are often later revised, the latest numbers for new home buying and pending home sales are impressive, indeed. The Census Bureau reported a 16.6% jump in new home sales in April, putting them at an 8-year peak. Housing contract activity surged 5.1% last month, […]

MAY 23, 2016

WILL THE FED MAKE A MOVE IN JUNE? In April, the Consumer Price Index advanced 0.4% – its largest monthly gain since February 2013. While a 10% leap in gasoline prices contributed to that rise, this and other recent signals of economic vigor may be influencing the Federal Reserve. Last week, minutes from the central […]

MAY 16, 2016

A MAJOR JUMP FOR RETAIL SALES Friday, the Department of Commerce reported a 1.3% April gain in U.S. retail purchases. The core retail sales advance was also impressive at 0.9%. Minus car and truck buying, retail sales were still up 0.8% last month.1 IMPROVEMENT IN CONSUMER SENTIMENT The University of Michigan’s much-watched household sentiment index […]

MAY 9, 2016

APRIL JOBS REPORT RAISES QUESTIONS Employers hired 160,000 more workers than they let go last month, and that net job gain was the smallest since September. Does this suggest a job market losing steam, or does it hint at an economy nearing full employment? The hiring number may make the Federal Reserve reconsider the possibility […]

MAY 2016

THE MONTH IN BRIEF The S&P 500 managed to advance 0.27% in April as many companies beat earnings and revenue forecasts. Some important commodities posted remarkable monthly gains. Existing home sales rebounded, and manufacturing seemed to have recovered from its winter slump. Hiring continued to impress, but consumer spending figures and consumer confidence indices did […]