Friday, October 9, 2009

Weekly Indicators

- by New Deal democrat

This week there was little "official" news, but weekly indicators from private sources were nonetheless interesting.

Officially, we learned that consumer credit was down 13% in August. As usual, doomers missed the significance of this, because this decrease coincided with a 2.7% sales increase, and a 1.1% increase ex-autos, meaning that consumers not only increased their spending, but were able to use cash instead of credit to do so.

Wholesale inventories/sales ratio was down another .02%, again for August. That means that two months ago, this ratio was already getting close to the point where inventories were held taut during the last expansion.

Initial jobless claims were down to 521,000, their best reading since mid-January.

Railroad traffic was up again last week, although slightly weaker year-over-year compared with last year. Seasonality should kick in by the end of the month, and rail traffic will begin to decline. Typically it has declined 15% from then until January in expansion years, so that will be the comparison to watch.

Shoppertrak reported mall sales up last week +4.1% from the week before, but still down year over year -3.0%.

The ICSC reported both weekly and monthly same store retail sales. Both were up compared with last year's numbers. Weekly sales were up +0.3% from the week before, and +1.0% from the year before. On a monthly basis, September's sales were up +0.1% from a year ago, the first year-over-year increase since July 2008.

While we know that auto sales tanked in September compared with August, it looks like retail sales ex-auto held on to their gains. We'll see next week.