Friday, March 16, 2018

Liveblogging housing, industrial production, and JOLTS

 - by New Deal democrat

This is one of those days when it seems every piece of economic data in the whole world is getting reported simultaneously.

So as the data gets reported, I'll give you three quick takes.

Housing permits and starts for February

While this was a decline from January, so far housing is holding up very well in the face of higher interest rates.

Single family housing permits -- the least volatile of all the numbers -- declined m/m but December remains the expansion high. The series remains very positive.

Overall housing permits -- less volatile than starts -- declined to their lowest level since September, but January remains the expansion high, so this trend remains positive as well.

Housing starts declined m/m from January's expansion high. To take out most of the volatility, I look at the three month moving average. This is the second highest during the entire expansion after last month. So these remain very positive as well.

Finally, there is a category of housing which has been authorizaed but not yet started. January remains the expansion high, and February is second, equal to December.  This tells us there is a lot of construction in the pipeline.

Bottom line: m/m negative, but longer term trend still (somewhat surprisingly) still very positive.

Industrial production

This was also a very positive report.

The overall number was up 1.1%.
Manufacturing was us 1.3%
Mining -- the big reason for last month's decline -- was up nearly 5%.

The DOOOMERS' meme that hard numbers haven't replicated the Fed and ISM surveys refuses to die.  And yet YoY overall production is up nearly 5%, and manufacturing up nearly 3%. That seems pretty good to me.


This data is from January. Like housing, it was generally down m/m, but very positive.  I don't bother anymore with openings, which I consider not just soft, but easily gamed data. As to the hard data:

Hires -- the second highest, but for last October, in the expansion.

Quits -- the second highest of the expansion, except for December's.

Total separations -- the highest of the expansion (which is a positive, since these also start to decline prior to a recession).

Layoffs and discharges -- increased sharply to levels seen in last summer. This is the one negative, since these bottomed in midcycle during the last expansion.

All in all, the three economic reports today painted a picture of continuing positive trends.