This was housing week in the monthly data department. Both existing and new home sales increased, new sales surprisingly so. I am taking both of these with a grain of salt, since the $8000 home buyers credit has been playing havoc with the numbers.
Durable goods orders for March tanked, including airplanes, but were surprisingly strong excluding airplanes (Boeing). This is a volatile number, so best not to read much into it either way.
The high frequency weekly data continued to tell a tale of a strengthening recovery:
▪ The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) reported same store sales growth of 4.6% YoY, and 0.2% WoW.
Shoppertrak reported YoY sales increased 9.9%, and WoW sales were up 4.7% (note easy Easter comparison vs. last year).
The Department of Energy reported that the price of gasoline rose again, just barely, to $2.86 per gallon. Gasoline demand for the last month has run equal with last year, suggesting that prices are beginning to bite at least slightly.
The BLS reported that last week's initial jobless claims totaled 456,000. The 4 week moving average was 460,000. This series remains in a downtrend, but in a much more muted downtrend than last year.
Railfax recorded another strong week. Three of the four elements of traffic: baseline, cyclical, and total – are continuing to increase, and continuing to increase at a rate faster than last year. Intermodal traffic, which is a proxy of imports/exports, remains substantially ahead of last year, but is not significantly increasing. Crushed stone and lumber, Railfax’s “recession watch” traffic, have both increased over last year for a month now, and crushed stone is increasing substantially WoW in comparison with last year.
Finally, Daily treasury receipts continue their surge ahead of last year. As of April 21, 2010 (15 reporting days into the month), $105.2B in withheld taxes had been collected vs. $98.8B last year, a gain of $6.4B or +6.5%. For the last 20 reporting days, $130.0B in withholding taxes have been collected, vs. $118.6B last year, a gain of $11.4B or +9.6%.
According the Gallup:
Gallup estimates that more than 1.5 million Americans who were underemployed became employed to full capacity over the last month. Gallup's 30-day average underemployment measure (not seasonally adjusted) declined to 19.2% on April 18 -- a sharp improvement from the 20.2% reported on March 21 -- and essentially matching its best level of the year.I point this out because one of this website's trolls has changed his economic indicators every time they turn positive. For example, he no longer quotes the BLS (which is rigged -- rigged I tell you!!!!!!) but instead relies on Gallup. However, now that this number reporting positive news, he'll have to find a more negative jobs number to claim is accurate.