For August, the U.S. posted surprising job figures, adding more jobs than expected and finding the wage inflation that has been missing for so long. Further, the unemployment rate maintained at consistent levels. Lastly, the ISM Purchasing Manager’s Index was released for August, registering at its highest level in 14 years.
A larger jump in retail sales proved to be one of very few optimistic highlights in last week’s economic news. The week entailed mostly negative news, as housing starts increased less than expected, the Philly Fed’s Manufacturing Index slipped significantly, and the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index fell unexpectedly.
Last Monday, the Institute for Supply Management released their monthly manufacturing report, showing strong gains, despite industry disruption. On Tuesday, U.S. automakers released their monthly auto sales reports, all showing gains from the year before. Finally, on Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor released the monthly jobs report, which beat analyst expectations on job growth, while unemployment rose slightly.
Last week, consumer confidence (slightly below expectations) and consumer sentiment (up slightly) measures were released by the Conference Board. These readings provided an indication of whether citizens have enough faith in the economy to make a big purchase. Also, the Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index (down slightly) gave a reading on manufacturing and industrial economic performance throughout the Western Great Plains. Lastly, the Mortgage Bankers Association released their weekly Mortgage Applications Survey (down).
Last week’s economic news was largely mixed, as home building saw strength in starts but weakness in permits, while the manufacturing sector showed signs of slowing (but still expanding) in purchasing activity, and manufacturing services saw continued growth in activity.
As the overall economy grew for the 103rd consecutive month, US manufacturing expanded at the fastest pace in three months. The 2017 average of the survey-based index was 57.6 – the best in 13 years.