Friday, March 19, 2010

Weekly Indicators: Vernal Equinox Edition

- by New Deal democrat

It was a relatively quiet week for monthly reports. The LEI came in as predicted at +0.1%, suggesting a marked Summer Slowdown (but not reversal). Industrial production advanced very modestly. Housing permits and starts also declined from January, suggesting continuing havoc in the monthly statistics caused by the $8000 housing credit.

On a weekly basis, ICSC reported sales declined -0.4% from the week before, but still up +3.2% YoY. Shoppertrak reported that retail sales rose +0.9% for the same week, while YoY sales increased 2.4%.

Gasoline prices rose again, to $2.78 a gallon. Usage increased substantially vs. last year, however. Oil closed out the week near $82/barrel.

Railfax reported a strong weekly increase in all components. Intermodal, cyclical and overall traffic rose, and rose substantially YoY as well. This was a particularly strong weekly report.

The BLS reported a slight decrease of 5000 initial jobless claims. The 4 week average also declined. You can still make an bullish, bearish, or sideways argument, depending on your starting point and trend line.

February 2010 NY State sales tax collections turned positive by +3.8% YoY. Florida, however, went to -5.9% YoY in February. Bad Florida!

Finally, the Daily Treasury Statement for St. Patrick's Day showed monthly receipts from Withholding taxes of $111.0B this year vs. $110.1B for March 18 of last year, a gain of +0.9% YoY. Receipts for the last 4 weeks as a whole have been $154.8B vs. $155.2B in 2009, a tiny -0.3% shortfall YoY. It does look like this metric is about to turn positive for the first time since September 2008, another signal of actual job growth.