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10 February 2017 Can we Explain Rising Consumer Confidence? What does it Mean?

By Ian Shepherdson

We have questioned the reliability of the recent consumer confidence numbers, and are very skeptical of their signal that spending is set to accelerate rapidly, but we see no real sign yet of any significant reversal of the post-election spike.

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9 February 2017 Is the Jump in Wholesale Inventories Sustainable?

By Ian Shepherdson

Total real inventories rose at a $48.7B annualized rate in the fourth quarter, contributing 1.0 percentage points to headline GDP growth. Wholesale durable goods accounted for $34B of the aggregate increase, following startling 1.0% month-to-month nominal increases in both November and December. The November jump was lead by a 3.2% leap in the auto sector, but inventories rose sharply across a broad and diverse range of other durables, including lumber, professional equipment, electricals and miscellaneous.

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8 February 2017 Seasonal Problems set to Depress Mortgage Applications Data

By Ian Shepherdson

Mortgage applications have risen, net, over the past couple of months, despite the 70bp surge in 30-year mortgage rates since the election. Indeed, we'd argue that the increase in applications is a result of the spike in rates, because it likely scared would-be homebuyers, triggering a wave of demand from people seeking to lock-in rates, fearing further increases.

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7 February 2017 Q1 Growth to Disappoint, Again?

By Ian Shepherdson

The obvious answer to the question posed in our title is that it's far too early to tell what will happen to first quarter growth. More than half the quarter hasn't even happened yet, and data for January are still extremely patchy, with no official reports on retail sales, industrial production, housing, capex, inventories or international trade yet available. For what it's worth, the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow model signals growth of 3.4%, though we note that it substantially overstated the first estimate of growth in the fourth quarter.

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6 February 2017 Soft January Hourly Earnings Will Prove Short-Lived

By Ian Shepherdson

Markets over-reacted to the much smaller-than-expected 0.1% increase in January hourly earnings, in our view. We don't have a full explanation for the shortfall against our 0.5% forecast, but that doesn't make it wise to throw out the baby with the bathwater, making the de facto assumption that wage growth now won't accelerate in the future.

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3 February 2017 Upside Risk For Payrolls and Hourly Earnings in January Data Today

By Ian Shepherdson

Our payroll model relies heavily on lagged indicators of the pace of hiring, most of which have improved in recent months after a sustained, though modest, softening which began last spring. That's why we expected an above-consensus reading from ADP on Wednesday and from the BLS today.

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2 February 2017 March is Alive as the FOMC's Tone Becomes More Direct

By Ian Shepherdson

The FOMC statement did enough to keep alive the idea that rates could rise in March, but the ball is now mostly in Congress' court. If a clear plan for substantial fiscal easing has emerged by the time of the meeting on March 15, policymakers can incorporate its potential impact on growth, unemployment and inflation into their forecasts, then a rate hike will be much more likely.

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1 February 2017 Expect a Slightly More Hawkish FOMC Tone, to Keep March Alive

By Ian Shepherdson

We're expecting the FOMC to vote unanimously not raise rates today, but we do expect a modestly hawkish tilt in the statement. Specifically, we're expecting an acknowledgment of the upturn in business investment reported in the Q4 GDP data, and of the increase in market-based measures of inflation expectations, given that 10-year TIPS breakevens are now above 2% for the first time since September 2014.

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31 January 2017 Will Faster Wage Growth Finally Trigger An Acceleration in the ECI?

By Ian Shepherdson

The headline employment cost index has been remarkably dull recently, with three straight 0.6% quarterly increases. The consensus forecast for today's report, for the three months to December, is for the same again.

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30 January 2017 Can the Second Half Growth Momentum Carry into this Year?

By Ian Shepherdson

We were nervous ahead of the GDP numbers on Friday, wondering if our forecast of a 1.5 percentage point hit from foreign trade was too aggressive. In the event, though, the trade hit was a huge 1.7pp, so domestic demand rose at a 3.5% pace.

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