Friday, September 10, 2010

Weekly Indicators: Hindenberg Contrary Omen edition

- by New Deal democrat

Well, so far the Hindenberg Omen isn't turning out to be such an oracle of truth, but instead might be termed the "Hindenberg put." A nice scary supply of b.s. made-up bearish indicators might be just what we need as we head into the ghost and goblin season.

This week in the monthly indicators we found out - well, actually, not much at all. The import/export data wasn't as bullish when placed in context, and the wholesale data is slightly bearish if they cut back on orders.

Now here's a look at high frequency weekly indicators. I started tracking these to gauge the staying power of the recovery. Recently they declined, but now seem to be bouncing back.

The Mortgage Bankers' Association reported that its Refinance Index decreased 3 percent from the previous week but is still at very high levels, while the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 6% percent from one week before. Not only is refinance activity at very high rates, now purchase mortgage activity may be rebounding as well - this was the highest reading since early May.

The ICSC reported same store sales for the week ending September 5 deckubed -0.4% week over week, and were up only 1.8% vs. a year ago. This is the weakest YoY performance in several months. Shoppertrak did not report weekly numbers, but said that for the month of August, sales were up 3.7% vs. 2009.

Gas prices reamined steady at $2.68 a gallon, and at 9.263 were virtually identical to one year ago. Meanwhile record gasoline stocks continue to be recorded.

The BLS reported 451,000 new jobless claims, over 50,000 less than just 3 weeks ago. Last week I asked, "With the census mainly unwound, and local school years having started, will we see declines in the weeks ahead?" Well, the very preliminary, one-data-point answer is "yes."

Railfax continued to bounce back strongly, showing substantial growth vs. last year in all 4 sectors: Cyclical, intermodal, baseline, and total traffic all continued to move significantly up, and also up at a more rapid clip than a year ago. With the exception of timber and metals, all sectors are essentially equal to or well ahead of their rates not just from last year, but from 2008 as well.

The American Staffing Association reported that for the week ending August 29, temporary and contract employment increased 1.3% to 97.0, like rail traffic not just exceedin 2009, but now exceeding 2008 as well.

M1 increased +2.0% in the last week, about 1.5% month over month, and up 5.0% YoY, so “real M1” is up 3.7%. M2 increased 0.3% in the last week, +0.56% month over month, and up 2.8% YoY, so “real M2” is up 1.5%. Real M1 remains a positive sign, while real M2 continues to counsel caution - although real M2 seems to be slowly clawing back upward.

Weekly BAA commercial bond rates rose for the first time in many weeks, up .08% more last week to 5.59%. This is,needless to say, still a very low rate.

Five days into September, the Daily Treasury Statement was up $42.0 B vs. $38.2 B a year ago, a gain of ~10%. For the last 20 reporting days, we are up $125.1 B vs. $118.5 B a year ago, for a gain of ~5.5%.

This is now the third week in a row that almost all of the weekly indicators have been bullish. The May-August declines in housing starts will continue to ripple through the rest of the economy, but otherwise, is the double dippette done?

Have a nice weekend!