The minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee’s December meeting were released, showing the board’s reluctance to increase interest rates amid weakening inflationary pressures and slowing global growth. The Bureau of Labor statistics furthered this point when releasing its December Consumer Price Index, which revealed the first monthly decrease in prices in nine months. The inflationary gauge did rise on an annualized basis, albeit slower than in prior months. Also, unemployment insurance claims fell unexpectedly in the first week of the new year.
Last week, the Commerce Department’s retail spending report showed a notable gain in retail spending for the trailing twelve months through November, showing strong consumer demand heading into the holidays. Also, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) released its semi-annual economic growth survey, revealing that although purchasing and supply managers expect revenue and investment growth, they believe 2019 will be a weaker year than 2018. Lastly, the Labor Department shared the November Consumer Price Index, which showed flat growth from October and a 2.2% annual increase. This week, the Federal Open Market Committee will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday to determine whether a rate hike is justified.
The week ending November 17 revealed Consumer Price Index data that surpassed the Fed’s 12-month 2% inflation target. Also, the Treasury Department says that the Government recorded a $100.5 billion deficit in October 2018, a 60% increase from a year before. Lastly, the New York Federal Reserve reported that U.S. household debt rose to $13.51 trillion, the 17th consecutive quarter of increasing household debt.
Last week brought third quarter GDP results that narrowly beat economists’ expectations, thanks, in part, to strong annualized consumer spending and low inflation. The Personal Consumption Expenditure price index, which is used by the Fed, underperformed the Fed target in October. However, the Producer-Price Index grew 2.9% annually, driven by producer and supplier margin increases. The JOLT Survey revealed that job openings decreased slightly in September, while the economy yielded a significant net employment gain.
Last week, data showed that retail spending declined in August, jobless claims rose for the week ending September 22nd, the personal consumption expenditures index hit the Fed’s targets, and consumer sentiment rose.
Data released by the Labor Department last week showed consumer prices rising dramatically, producer prices stagnating from the prior month, and job vacancies increasing to 6.7 million in the second quarter.
Last week the Department of Labor released its June reading on the Consumer Price Index, and the Federal Reserve released its consumer credit figures for the month of May. Both measures experienced stark upward growth during their respective months and over the twelve months prior.
Last week’s economic news continued to signal a booming U.S. economy. In summary, the NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index rose to its second-highest all-time level of 107.8; the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for May, often a sign of inflation, rose 2.8% over the last twelve months; and Federal Reserve officials elected to raise rates a quarter of one percentage point to keep the economy from growing too quickly. The Fed’s Board of Governors also signaled for an extra rate hike for 2018.
Last week, several key indicators indicated cooling in the US economy. Primarily led by consumer-focused indicators, other softening indicators included small business optimism, which hinted at decreasing confidence of an improving economy. Inflation also ticked up, but the increase was largely driven by plunging wireless services prices in the year-ago period.
The general tone of economic data released last week signals increasing confidence among both consumers and businesses.