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26 April 2017 The Surge in Spending on Building Materials Can't Last Forever

By Ian Shepherdson

Across all the major economic data, perhaps the biggest weather distortions late last year and in the early part of the year were in the retail sales numbers, specifically, the building materials component. Sales rocketed at a 16.5% annualized rate in the first quarter, the biggest gain since the spring of 2014, following a 10.2% increase in the fourth quarter of last year.

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25 April 2017A Government Shutdown Would Say More About Politics Than Economics

By Ian Shepherdson

A shutdown of the federal government, which could happen as early as this weekend, is a political event rather than a macroeconomic shock. But if it happens--if Congress cannot agree on even a shortterm stop-gap spending measure in order to keep the lights on after the 28th--it would demonstrate yet again that the splits in the House mean that the prospects of a substantial near-term loosening of fiscal policy are now very slim.

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24 April 2017 Take None of Last Week's Data at Face Value -- Distortions Abound

By Ian Shepherdson

The gap between the hard and soft data from the industrial economy appeared to widen still further last week. But we are disinclined to take the data--the official industrial production report for March, and the first survey evidence for April--at face value.

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13 April 2017 Core PPI In ation is set to Rise Further, Lifting Core CPI and PCE

By Ian Shepherdson

Today's producer price report for March likely will show a further increase in core goods inflation, which already has risen to 2.0% in February, from 0.2% in the same month last year. The acceleration in the U.S. PPI follows the even more dramatic surge in China's PPI for manufactured goods, which jumped to 6.6% year-over-year in February, from minus 4.9% a year ago. China's PPI is much more sensitive to commodity prices than the U.S. series, so there's very little chance that core U.S. PPI goods inflation will rise to anything like this rate.

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*April 2017 - U.S.. Economic Chartbook*

By Ian Shepherdson

The Tightening Labor Market is all that Matters...Expect the Fed to Hike at Each Quarter-End

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12 April 2017 Don't Worry About the Weakness in C&I Lending, it will Rebound

By Ian Shepherdson

Friday's weekly report on the assets and liabilities of U.S. commercial banks will complete the picture or March and, hence, the first quarter. It won't be pretty. With most of the March data already released, a month-to-month decline in lending to commercial and industrial companies of about 0.7% is a done deal. That would be the biggest drop since May 2010, and it would complete a 1% annualized fall for the first quarter, the worst performance since Q3 2010. The year-over-year rate of growth slowed to just 5.0% in Q1, from 8.0% in the fourth quarter and 10.3% in the first quarter of last year.

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11 April 2017 Why are Small Firms' Capex Plans so Soft even as Sentiment Soars?

By Ian Shepherdson

Nowhere is the gap between sentiment and activity wider than in the NFIB survey of small businesses. The economic expectations component leaped by an astonishing 57 points between October and December, but the capex intentions index rose by only two points over the same period, and it has since slipped back. In February, the capex intentions index stood at 26, compared to an average of 27.3 in the three months to October.

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10 April 2017 Falling Unemployment Matters More than the Weather-hit Jobs Number

By Ian Shepherdson

The BLS offered no estimate of the impact on payrolls of the snowstorm which hit the Northeast during the March survey week, but it appears to have been substantial. All the leading indicators pointed to a solid 200K-plus reading, more than double the official initial estimate, 98K.

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7 April 2017 Mixed Signals for March Payrolls, but 200K Seems a Fair Bet

By Ian Shepherdson

Everything but the weather points to a strong headline payroll number for March. Our composite leading payroll indicator has signalled robust job growth since last fall, and the message for March is very clear.

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6 April 2017 ADP Likely Overstates Payrolls, ISM Non-manufacturing Understates

By Ian Shepherdson

We don't directly plug the ADP employment data into our model for the official payroll number. ADP's estimate is derived itself from a model which incorporates lagged official payroll data, because payrolls tend to mean-revert, as well as macroeconomic variables including oil prices, industrial production and jobless claims -- and actual employment data from firms which use ADP's payroll processing services.

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