- by New Deal democrat
Monthly March data released in the past week included two very poor reports: retail sales sank by -0.4%, and the U. Michigan consumer sentiment reading was the worst since last year. Inventories rose slightly. Producer prices actually declined.
One of the points I routinely make about this high freequency weekly data I follow is that it can be noisy. This week it completely reversed last week's poor readings, suggesting that change in weeks for the Easter/Passover holidays skewed the YoY data.
Let's start this week's look at the high frequency weekly indicators by looking at employment data, which completely flipped this week vs. last week:
Initial jobless claims
- 346,000 down 39,000
- 4 week average 358,000 up 3,750
- flat at 91 w/w up 1.1% YoY
Initial claims have established a new lower range of between 330,000 to 375,000 this year. In the last two years, beginning at the end of the first quarter there has been a spike of 20,000+ in jobless applications, and we certainly did see the pattern repeat in the previous two weeks. This week jobless claims returned to their new, lower range. The ASA is still running slighty below 2007, and slightly ahead of last year, although the comparison is deteriorating a small amount.
Daily Treasury Statement tax withholding
- $140.1 B (adjusted for 2013 payroll tax withholding changes) vs. $141.7 B, -1.1% YoY for the last 20 days. The unadjusted result was $164.1 B for a 15.8% increase.
- $68.3 B was collected during the first 9 days of April vs. $65.1 B unadjusted in 2012, a $3.2 B or 4.9% increase YoY.
Railroad transport from the AAR
- +10,000 or +3.7% carloads YoY
- +1800 or +4.8% carloads ex-coal
- +400 or +0.2% intermodal units
- +10,500 or +2.1% YoY total loads
- ICSC +0.7% w/w +3.2% YoY
- Johnson Redbook +2.5%YoY
- Gallup daily consumer spending 14 day average at $79 up $3 YoY
- YoY this week +5.3%
Real estate loans, from the FRB H8 report:
- up 16 or +0.4% w/w
- up 28 or +0.8% YoY
- +2.4% from its bottom
Mortgage applications from the Mortgage Bankers Association:
- +1% w/w purchase applications
- +3% YoY purchase applications
- +6% w/w refinance applications
Interest rates and credit spreads
- 4.70% BAA corporate bonds down -0.13%
- 1.81% 10 year treasury bonds down -0.09%
- 2.89% credit spread between corporates and treasuries down -0.04%
- +2.2% w/w
- +0.7% m/m
- +9.3% YoY Real M1
- +0.6% w/w
- +0.8% m/m
- +4.9% YoY Real M2
Oil prices and usage
- Oil $91.48 down -$0.89 w/w
- gas $3.61 down $0.04 w/w
- Usage 4 week average YoY -2.4%
Bank lending rates
JoC ECRI Commodity prices
- down 0.97 to 126.35 w/w
- +3.73 YoY
The positives include housing prices and mortgage applications, gas prices lower than one or two years ago, and money supply remaining positive, although less so than previously. Commodities are mildly positive measured YoY, although they have retreated over the last month. Consumer spending is positive, although Gallup is much less positive than the last 4 months. Initial jobless claims turned strongly positive again this week. Rail turned positive as well. Real estate loans improved, as did credit spreads.
Basically neutral indicators include shipping rates, interest rates and temporary jobs. Overnight banking loans haven't budged.
After a positive, but muted, tone in the last several months, one week ago the data was tilting a little more towards negativity. My suspicion was that the combination of the payroll tax increase and sequestered budget cuts are now showing up int he high frequency data. This week it all reversed, as the negatives all disappeared, and the data returned to almost uniformly positive.
Was this just a two week whipsaw based on the changes in springtime religious holidays? We'll see next week. Have a nice weekend.