Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Empire State and Retail Sales Recap

From the NY Federal Reserve:

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that conditions for New York manufacturers improved in November, but at a somewhat slower pace than in October. The general business conditions index fell 11 points, to 23.5. The indexes for new orders and shipments posted similar declines. Pricing pressures eased, with the prices paid index positive but lower than last month and the prices received index rising to a level just below zero. Employment indexes fell from October’s elevated levels, remaining slightly positive. Future indexes conveyed an expectation that activity and employment would improve in the months ahead and that both input and selling prices would increase significantly.

Here is the relevant chart:

Notice the index is currently at levels associated with expansion. Also note the index has rebounded from the extremely low levels we saw earlier this year. SilverOz has noted that part of most statistical rebounds we are seeing is due to the extreme readings we saw earlier this year; that is, part of what we are seeing is a standard rebound. I think that's accurate. The economy literally hit the brakes at the end of last year/beginning of this year. However, I think there are continuing signs the economy is recovering. Here are additional charts from the report:

Notice the overall trend for both overall business and new orders is positive.

Also note the employment component of the report is also getting better.

Retail Sales Increase:

From the Census Bureau:

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for October, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $347.5 billion, an increase of 1.4 percent (±0.5%) from the previous month, but 1.7 percent (±0.5%) below October 2008. Total sales for the August through October 2009 period were up 1.5 percent (±0.3%) from the same period a year ago. The August to September 2009 percent change was revised from -1.5 percent (±0.5%) to -2.3 percent (±0.3%).

Here are some very important observations:

Excluding the 7.4% increase in auto sales, retail sales rose 0.2% in October, the data showed. Sales excluding autos have risen for three months in a row and in five of the past six months.

Simply put, sales are moving in the right direction. Also note the alot of the increase was car sales - in a post cash for clunkers world. That tells us there is still demand for autos out there without government stimulus.

Here is the relevant chart:

A while ago I noted that we can look at the recent data in the following way:

A.) The complete contraction in any spending and

B.) The recovery where the pace of month over month percentage changes returned to more normal levels. That appears to be where we are now.

Short version, both of these pieces of data are positive.