This week featured better than expected retail sales, industrial production, and capacity utilization. Wholeshale inventories increased, but sales increased even more, a very bullish indicator. The trade balance showed a bigger deficit, driven by higher imports. Consumer sentiment was in line with expecations, which weren't much.
▪ The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) reported same store sales for the week ended May 8 rose 4.3% from the year-earlier period. On a week-over-week basis, sales inched up 0.1%. Shoppertrak failed to report.
The Department of Energy reported that the price of gasoline remained steady at $2.90 per gallon. Gasoline demand for the week was up by several million barrels vs. a year ago. Inventory still is high and climbing. Gasoline remains only 10 cents under the psychological $3/gallon mark where I suspect there will be a significant bite. On the other hand, Oil plummetted through $75 a barrel this week and as of mid-Friday, was selling at about $71.50 (which appears to break an 8 month trendline to the downside). If that lasts, gasoline prices will come down significantly.
The BLS reported that last week's initial jobless claims totaled 444,000. The 4 week moving average was reduce to 450,500. This series remains in a downtrend, albeit a more muted downtrend than last year.
The American Staffing Association's weekly report showed that
During the week of April 26–May 2, 2010, temporary and contract employment increased 1.17%This was the 12th straight week of increases in temporary hires. Increases in temporary staffing are a leading indicator, so this bodes well for the jobs report.
Railfax this week showed almost all sectors neither gaining nor declining over last week. Intermodal traffic, which is a proxy of imports/exports, did gain slighly compared with last year.
Finally, Daily treasury receipts continue their gains over last year. As of May 12, 2010, for the last 20 reporting days, $130.2B in withheld taxes had been collected vs. $123.7B last year, a gain of $6.5B or +5.2%. So far, May 2010 is also running ahead of May 2009, $57.8B vs. $54.8B.