With the exception of this morning's Q1 GDP report of +3.2% annualized, with consumption excellently providing a +3.6% boost, this was a very slow week for monthly economic data. The Chicago PMI (thought to be a preview of the ISM indexes next week) blew out to the upside at 63.8 (over 50 means expansion). The backlog of orders - a leading indicator - also blew out to the upside at 61.4. The Chicago Fed’s National Activity Index (CFNAI) also ticked upward.
The employment cost index was up 0.6%, but the wage component was only up 0.4%, benefits balanced them out at up 1.1%. Consumer confidence ticked upward (but expectations - a leading indicator - ticked down).
Home prices ticked downward (a slide that will probably continue now that federal purchasing support is expiring).
The high frequency weekly data continued to show a strengthening recovery:
▪ The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) reported same store sales growth of 5.5% YoY, and 0.2% WoW.
Shoppertrak reported YoY sales increased 3.2%, and WoW sales were down 1.5%, not untypical during the spring lull after Easter.
The Department of Energy reported that the price of gasoline declined one cent to $2.85 per gallon. Gasoline demand for the week surged 2 million barrels, well ahead of last year, and bringing the monthly average up as well. Inventory still is high and climbing. This is the most bullish report in quite a while.
The BLS reported that last week's initial jobless claims totaled 448,000. The 4 week moving average was 461,500. This series remains in a downtrend, albeit a more muted downtrend than last year.
H/t to reader Brodero who has found another high frequency weekly indicator: the American Staffing Association's weekly report, which showed that
During the week of April 12–18, 2010, temporary and contract employment increased 1.77%
This was the 10th straight week of increases in temporary hires. Increases in temporary staffing are a leading indicator, so this bodes well for the jobs report.
Railfax recorded yet another strong week. Baseline, cyclical, and total – are continuing to increase, and continuing to increase at a rate faster than last year. cyclical traffic in particular is now closer to its 2008 top than to its recession bottom. Intermodal traffic, which is a proxy of imports/exports, also remains substantially ahead of last year. Crushed stone and lumber, Railfax’s “recession watch” traffic, increased yet again, and crushed stone in particular is increasing strongly.
Finally, Daily treasury receipts continue their surge ahead of last year. As of April 28, 2010 (20 reporting days into the month), $129.6B in withheld taxes had been collected vs. $123.5B last year, a gain of $6.1B or +4.8%. I'm sure Zero Hedge will report this 4-week data to its readers, right?
P.S. I think Bonddad may be unable to supply pictures of doggies this week, but I will try to put up this evening or tomorrow a photo of a place you should visit at some point in your life -- and this time I'll try not to give it away!