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20 May 2019 Soaring Sales at Discounters Explain the Strong Redbook, Mostly (Publication Centre)

We have been puzzled in recent months by the sudden and substantial divergence between the Redbook chainstore sales numbers and the official data.

15 August 2017 Time for a Rebound in Core Retail Sales A er Unexpected So ness (Publication Centre)

No matter how you choose to slice-and-dice the recent retail sales numbers, the core data for the past couple of months have been disappointing. Our favorite measure--total sales less autos, gasoline, food and building materials--rose by just 0.1% month-to- month in May but then reversed this minimal gain in June.

13 Dec 2019 Did a Strong Thanksgiving Weekend Lift November Retail Sales (Publication Centre)

Today's November retail sales numbers are something of a wild card, given the absence of reliable indicators of the strength of sales over the Thanksgiving weekend, and the difficulty of seasonally adjusting the data for a holiday which falls on a different date this year.

2 July 2019 Auto Sales are Solid: Fundamentals are Keeping Sales Over 17M (Publication Centre)

We keep hearing that the auto market is struggling, but that idea is not supported by the recent sales numbers.

7 Nov 2019 Storm Clouds Gathering for the Auto Market as Loan Standards Tighten (Publication Centre)

One bad month proves nothing, but our first chart shows that October's auto sales numbers were awful, dropping unexpectedly to a six-month low.

22 March 2017 Why Are Pending Sales Lagging Existing Sales? (Publication Centre)

The remarkably strong existing home sales numbers in recent months, relative to the pending home sales index, are hard to explain. In January, total sales reached 5.69M, some 6% higher than the 5.35M implied by December's pending sales index. The gap between the series has widened in recent months, as our first chart shows, and we think the odds now favor a correction in today's February report.

22 Jan 2020 Existing Home Sales to Rise in H1, Whatever Happened in December (Publication Centre)

The weather-driven surge in December housing starts, reported last week, is unlikely to be replicated in today's existing home sales numbers for the same month.

17 Jan 2020 Manufacturing is Stagnating, but a Modest H1 Upturn is a Fair Bet (Publication Centre)

The trend in manufacturing output probably is about flat, with no real prospect of any serious improvement in the near term.

17 Oct 2019 September IP Hit by the GM Strike, but the Trend is Soft too (Publication Centre)

The GM strike will make itself felt in the September industrial production data, due today.

18 Mar 2020 Fed CP Purchases and the $850B Bill are Progress, but Not Enough (Publication Centre)

The establishment of the Fed's commercial paper funding facility, announced yesterday, replicates the first wave of asset purchases undertaken after the crash of 2008.

17 Mar 2020 There is Nothing Remotely Like Q1 in Historical Chinese Data (Publication Centre)

We lack an adjective sufficiently strong to describe China's February activity data.

16 Jan 2020 No Repeat of the December 2018 Plunge in Retail Sales (Publication Centre)

Ahead of the release of the retail sales report for December 2018, markets expected to see unchanged non-auto sales.

10 Jan 2020 The Outlook for German Q4 GDP is Poor, but also Murkier than Usual (Publication Centre)

Yesterday's industrial production report in Germany was much better than implied by the poor new orders data--see here--released earlier this week.

14 Jan 2020 Core CPI Inflation is Contained, but Risks Abound for December (Publication Centre)

Our base case is that the core CPI rose 0.2% in December, but the net risk probably is to the upside. We see scope for significant increases in sectors as diverse as used autos, apparel, healthcare, and rent, but nothing is guaranteed.

2 April 2019 Manufacturing Might have Hit Bottom, but Don't Celebrate Yet (Publication Centre)

We were happy to see the small increase in the March ISM manufacturing index yesterday, following better news from China's PMIs, but none of these reports constitute definitive evidence that the manufacturing slowdown is over.

15 February 2017 Yellen Says no "Active" Balance Sheet Management from the Fed (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Yellen delivered no great surprises in her semi-annual Monetary Policy Testimony, though she certainly was clear on her attitude to the balance sheet. The Fed does not want to "...use the balance sheet as an active tool of monetary policy."

16 Oct 2019 Did Pre-Tariff Spending Boost September Retail Sales (Publication Centre)

Tariffs are a tax on imported goods, and higher taxes depress growth, other things equal.

19 September 2017 Housing Takes a Modest Hurricane Hit, so far, More to Come? (Publication Centre)

The September NAHB survey, released yesterday, shows, that the housing market took a knock from the hurricanes but the damage, so far at least, appears to be contained.

4 Mar 2020 More to Come from the Fed, but Fiscal Policy has to Step Up too (Publication Centre)

We aren't in the business of trying to divine the explanation for every twist and turn in the stock market at the best of times, and these are not the best of times.

22 April 2019 So Much for the Q1 Rollover: GDP Appears to have Breached 2% (Publication Centre)

The U.S. consumer is back on track, almost. We have argued in recent months that the sharp slowdown in the rate of growth of consumption is mostly a story about a transition from last year's surge, when spending was boosted by the tax cuts and, later, by falling gas prices, to a sustainable pace roughly in line with real after-tax income growth.

30 Oct 2019 The Fed will Ease Today, but will Signal a Pause Unless Growth Tanks (Publication Centre)

The stage is set for the Fed to ease by 25bp today, but to signal that further reductions in the funds rate would require a meaningful deterioration in the outlook for growth or unexpected downward pressure on inflation.

5 December 2017 ISM Non-manufacturing Set for Clear Correction. Don't Worry (Publication Centre)

Last week's strong ISM manufacturing survey for November likely will be followed by robust data for the non-manufacturing sector today, but the headline index, like its industrial counterpart, likely will dip a bit.

5 Sept 2019 Payroll Growth is Still Good Enough, Just, but Slower Gains Ahead (Publication Centre)

Labor demand, as measured by an array of business surveys, clearly slowed from the cycle peak, recorded late last year.

9 March 2017 ADP Report Raises the Chance of a Blockbuster February Jobs Number (Publication Centre)

We expected a consensus-beating ADP employment number for February, but the 298K leap was much better than our forecast, 210K. The error now becomes an input into our payroll model, shifting our estimate for tomorrow's official number to 250K; our initial forecast was 210K.

6 March 2019 ISM Non-manufacturing Rebound is Welcome Further Gains Unlikely (Publication Centre)

The rebound in the ISM non-manufacturing index in February was in line with our forecast, but behind the strong headline, the employment index dropped to an eight-month low.

3 Mar 2020 Which Covid-19 Data Matter More, New Cases or Log-Levels (Publication Centre)

Something of a debate appears to be underway in markets over the "correct" way to look at the coronavirus data.

4 Feb 2020 Consumer Fundamentals Will Support Spending, Look at Redbook (Publication Centre)

The fundamentals underpinning our forecast of solid first half growth in consumers' spending remain robust.

22 Oct 2019 China-Sensitive Regions are Suffering as the Trade War Worsens (Publication Centre)

After the strong Philly Fed survey was released last week, we argued that the regional economy likely was outperforming because of its relatively low dependence on exports, making it less vulnerable to the trade war.

24 Oct 2019 Core Capex Orders aren't as Weak as the ISM Suggests... Yet (Publication Centre)

Core durable goods orders have not weakened as much as implied by the ISM manufacturing survey, as our first chart shows, but it is risky to assume this situation persists.

25 Nov 2019 Deferring the December 15 Tariffs is not Alone Enough to Lift Growth (Publication Centre)

The weaker is the economy over the next few months, the more likely it is that Mr. Trump blinks and removes some--perhaps even all--the tariffs on Chinese imports.

26 Feb 2020 The Fed's "Too Soon to Tell" Line Won't Hold if Markets Keep Falling (Publication Centre)

The spread of the Covid-19 virus remains the key issue for markets, which were deeply unhappy yesterday at reports of new cases in Austria, Spain and Switzerland, all of which appear to be connected to the cluster in northern Italy.

26 Nov 2019 The Export Collapse Signalled by the Late Summer ISM has been Averted (Publication Centre)

We were terrified by the plunge in the ISM manufacturing export orders index in August and September, which appeared to point to a 2008-style meltdown in trade flows.

28 Jan 2020 Germany Can't Catch a Break, The IFO Still Signals Very Slow Growth (Publication Centre)

Yesterday's IFO data reversed the good vibes sent by last week's upbeat German PMIs.

15 August 2018 Soft July Headline Retail Sales Numbers will Hide a Solid Core (Publication Centre)

The first wave of domestic third quarter data crashes ashore this morning.

3 October 2017 Auto Sales Rebounded in September, but by How Much? (Publication Centre)

Auto industry watchers at WardsAuto and JD Power are in agreement that today's September sales numbers will be little changed from a year ago, at around 17.5M.

3 Feb 2020 Chile to Perform Relatively Well this Year, the Protest Shock will Ease (Publication Centre)

Chile's stronger-than-expected industrial production report for December, and less-ugly-than- feared retail sales numbers, confirmed that the hit from the Q4 social unrest on economic activity is disappearing.

4 September 2018 Is Fear of Further Tariffs Boosting Capex and Inventory-Building? (Publication Centre)

While we were out, most of the core domestic economic data were quite strong, with the exception of the soft July home sales numbers and the Michigan consumer sentiment survey.

9 May 2017 Chainstore Sales Rebound Points to Robust Q2 Consumption (Publication Centre)

If the Redbook chain store sales survey moved consistently in line with the official core retail sales numbers, it would attract a good deal more attention in the markets. We appreciate that brick-and-mortar retailers are losing market share to online sellers, but the rate at which sales are moving to the web is quite steady and easy to accommodate when comparing the Redbook with the official data.

28 Jan 2020 Mexican Consumers' Spending Fell in Q4, but Should Rebound in Q1 (Publication Centre)

All the evidence indicates that growth in Mexican consumers' spending is slowing, despite the better- than-expected November retail sales numbers, released yesterday.

6 September 2017 Harvey set to Distort Chainstore, MBA Data Today, but no hit on ISM (Publication Centre)

Last Friday's August auto sales numbers were overshadowed by the below-consensus payroll report and the six-year high in the ISM manufacturing index, but they are the first data to reflect the impact of Hurricane Harvey.

24 August. 2016 Chainstore Sales Still Pitifully Weak, Despite the Dip in the Dollar (Publication Centre)

We are a bit troubled by the persistent weakness of the Redbook chain store sales numbers. We aren't ready to sound an alarm, but we are puzzled at the recent declines in the rate of growth of same-store sales to new post-crash lows. On the face of it, the recent performance of the Redbook, shown in our first chart, is terrible. Sales rose only 0.5% in the year to July, during which time we estimate nominal personal incomes rose nearly 3%.

15 February 2019 Seasonal Problems and Sampling Error Explain December's Sales Drop (Publication Centre)

We can't remember the last time a single economic report was as surprising as the December retail sales numbers, released yesterday.

15 August. 2016 Don't Fret Over the July Retail Sales and PPI Data (Publication Centre)

Let's be clear: The July retail sales numbers do not mean the consumer is rolling over, and the PPI numbers do not mean that disinflation pressure is intensifying. We argued in the Monitor last Friday, ahead of the sales data, that the 4.2% surge in second quarter consumption--likely to be revised up slightly--could not last, and the relative sluggishness of the July core retail sales numbers is part of the necessary correction. Headline sales were depressed by falling gasoline prices, which subtracted 0.2%.

14 Oct. 2015 Soaring Auto Sales Should Offset Yet Another Gas Price Hit (Publication Centre)

After last week's relatively light flow of data, today brings a wave of information on both the pace of economic growth and inflation. The markets' attention likely will fall first on the September retail sales numbers, which will be subject to at least three separate forces. First, the jump in auto sales reported by the manufacturers a couple of weeks ago ought to keep the headline sales numbers above water.

15 Jan. 2015 - Falling December Retail Sales no Threat to the Strong Growth Story (Publication Centre)

We want to be very clear about the terrible-looking December retail sales numbers: The core numbers were much less bad than the headline, and there is no reason to think the dip in the core is anything other than noise.

15 June 2018 Strong Consumption set to Boost Second Quarter GDP Growth (Publication Centre)

The headline May retail sales numbers were flattered by a 2.4% leap in the wildly volatile building materials component and a price-driven 2.0% surge in gasoline sales.

15 May 2019 Q2 Consumption on Course for 3%, Despite Auto Drag on April Retailing (Publication Centre)

The gap between the official measure of the rate of growth of core retail sales and the Redbook chainstore sales numbers remains bafflingly huge, but we have no specific reason to expect it to narrow substantially with the release of the April report today.

15 March 2018 Retail Sales have Corrected from the Post-Hurricane Surge (Publication Centre)

Don't worry about the weakness of the recent retail sales numbers. The three straight 0.1% month-to- month declines tell us nothing about the underlying state of the consumer.

14 May. 2015 Core Retail Sales Aren't Bad, but They Aren't Good, Either--Yet (Publication Centre)

So, what should we make of the fourth straight disappointment in the retail sales numbers? First, we should note that all is probably not how it seems. The 0.2% upward revision to March sales was exactly equal to the difference between the consensus forecast and the initial estimate, neatly illustrating the danger of over-interpreting the first estimates of the data.

14 June. 2016 May Sales Will Be Less Impressive than April's but Good Enough (Publication Centre)

April's impressive-looking retail sales numbers--the headline jumped 1.3%, with non-auto sales up 0.8%--were boosted by two entirely separate factors, one of which will play no p art in May and one which will offer very modest support. The key lift in April came from the very early Easter, which confounded the seasonal adjustments, as it usually does.

13 Apr. 2016 Downside Risk as Autos Set to Pull Down March Retail Sales (Publication Centre)

The headline March retail sales numbers probably will look horrible, thanks to the unexpected drop in auto sales reported by the manufacturers earlier this month. Their unit sales data don't always move exactly in line with the dollar value numbers in the retail sales report, as our first chart shows, but it's hard to imagine anything other than a clear decline today.

12 June. 2015 Consumption Back on Track as the Winter Weather Hit Reverses (Publication Centre)

Consumers' spending in the second quarter is still set to be less than great, thanks in part to unfavorable base effects from the first quarter, but a respectable showing of about 2¾% now seems likely. The core May retail sales numbers were a bit stronger than we expected, with gains in most sectors, and the upward revisions to April and March were substantial.

11 Dec. 2015 Don't be Swayed by Soft Nominal Retail Sales (Publication Centre)

Retail sales ex-autos have undershot consensus forecasts in eight of the 11 reports released so far this year, prompting interest rate doves to argue that consumers have not spent their windfall from falling gas prices. But this ignores the impact of falling prices--for gasoline, electronics, furniture, and clothing--on the sales numbers, which are presented in nominal terms.

13 January 2017 Will Consumers' Spending Rise in Line with the Sentiment Surveys? (Publication Centre)

December's retail sales numbers are the most important of the year for retailers, but they don't necessarily tell us anything about the future prospects for consumers' spending or the broad economy. The December 2016 numbers, however, might be different, because they capture consumers' behavior in the first full month after the election.

13 Nov. 2015 Retail Sales Data are Misleading When Goods Prices Fall (Publication Centre)

Retail sales account for some 30% of GDP--more than all business investment and government spending combined--so the monthly numbers directly capture more of the economy than any other indicator. Translating the monthly sales numbers into real GDP growth is not straightforward, though, because the sales numbers are nominal. Sales have been hugely depressed over the past year by the plunging price of gasoline and, to a lesser extent, declines in prices of imported consumer goods.

14 August. 2015 Robust Real Spending Signals Consumers aren't Saving More (Publication Centre)

The robust July retail sales numbers, coupled with the substantial upward revisions to prior data, should finally put to bed the idea that consumers have chosen spontaneously to raise their saving rate, accelerating the pace of deleveraging seven years after the financial crash. People just don't behave like that unless interest rates are soaring and the economy is rolling over, and that's not happening.

14 Apr. 2015 Autos, Gas to boost March retail sales - Core is a wildcard (Publication Centre)

The run of soft-looking headline retail sales numbers in recent months--the initial estimates for February, January and December were -0.6%, -0.8% and -0.9% respectively--will end today; the March number will look solid.

15 November. 2016 Autos and Higher Gas Prices Will Flatter October Retail Sales Data (Publication Centre)

The combination of unexpectedly strong auto sales and rising gas prices should generate strong-looking headline retail sales numbers for October. We have no idea what to expect for November, with two-thirds of the month coming after the election, but the final pre- election sales report will look good.

16 November 2018 The Boost to Retail Sales from Tax Cuts is Fading, as Holidays Approach (Publication Centre)

The headline retail sales numbers for October looked good, but the details were less comforting.

22 May 2018 Chainstore Sales Growth has Surged, Thank Warmer Weather? (Publication Centre)

We have been pleasantly surprised by the recent Redbook chainstore sales numbers.

22 July. 2015 Chain Store Sales Growth Will Slow Further - Don't be Misled (Publication Centre)

The downshift in the rate of growth of retail sales, which has caused a degree of consternation among investors, likely has further to run. The Redbook chain store sales survey clearly warned at the turn of the year that a slowdown was coming, but forecasters didn't want hear the warning: Five of the seven non-auto retail sales numbers released this year have undershot consensus.

22 February 2017 Easier lending standards to boost housing market? (Publication Centre)

Whatever today's report tells us about existing home sales in January, the underlying state of housing demand right now is unclear. The sales numbers lag mortgage applications by a few months, as our first chart shows, so they're usually the best place to start if you're pondering the near-term outlook for sales. But the applications data right now are suffering from two separate distortions, one pushing the numbers up and the other pushing them down. Both distortions should fade by the late spring, but in they meantime we'd hesitate to say we have a good idea what's really happening to demand.

23 May 2018 New Home Sales Appear to have Peaked - Downside Risk for April? (Publication Centre)

The monthly new home sales numbers are so volatile that just about anything can happen in any given month.

09 Mar. 2016 Why are Chainstore Sales so Weak Compared to the Official Data? (Publication Centre)

The Redbook chain store sales survey used to be our favorite indicator of the monthly core retail sales numbers, but over the past year it has parted company from the official data. Year-over-year growth in Redbook sales has slowed to just 0.7% in February, from a recent peak of 4.6% in the year to December 2014

26 April 2017 The Surge in Spending on Building Materials Can't Last Forever (Publication Centre)

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.

24 February 2017 Did the Warmer-than-Usual January Lift New Home Sales? (Publication Centre)

New home sales have tended to track the path of mortgage applications over the past year or so, with a lag of a few months. The message for today's January sales numbers, show in our next chart, is that sales likely dipped a bit, to about 525K.

21 Jan. 2015 - Spending Not Yet Surging in the Wake of Cheaper Gas, But it Will (Publication Centre)

So far, the surge in retail spending promised by the plunge in gasoline prices has not materialized. The latest Redbook chain store sales numbers dipped below the gently rising trend last week, perhaps because of severe weather, but the point is that the holiday season burst of spending has not been maintained.

20 June 2018 Existing Home Sales are Struggling May Activity Likely Dipped (Publication Centre)

Today brings more housing data, in the form of the May existing home sales numbers.

17 January 2017 December Data Understates Core Retail Sales (Publication Centre)

On the face of it, the December core retail sales numbers were something of a damp squib. The headline numbers were lifted by an incentive-driven jump in auto sales and the rise in gas prices, but our measure of core sales--stripping out autos, gas and food--was dead flat. One soft month doesn't prove anything, and core sales rose at a 3.9% annualized rate in the fourth quarter as a whole.

16 October 2018 Q3 Consumption Rose by Nearly 4%, Despite So September Retail Sales (Publication Centre)

The softness of the headline September retail sales numbers hid a decent 0.5% increase in the "control" measure, which is the best guide to consumers' spending on non-durable goods.

17 July 2019 Consumers Leading the Way, but is Manufacturing Close to a Floor (Publication Centre)

We have revised up our second quarter consumption forecast to a startling 4.0% in the wake of yesterday's strong June retail sales numbers, which were accompanied by upward revisions to prior data.

18 April 2018 Colombia's Softer Activity Data is Temporary, Expect an Acceleration (Publication Centre)

The February activity report in Colombia showed a modest pick-up in manufacturing activity and strength in the retail sales numbers.

18 June 2019 Chainstore Sales Growth is Set to Slow Sharply Don't Worry (Publication Centre)

The chainstore sales numbers have been hard to read over the past year.

18 December 2018 The Plunge in Oil Prices Injects Uncertainty into Q4 GDP Growth (Publication Centre)

In the wake of last week's strong core retail sales numbers for November, the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow model for fourth quarter GDP growth shot up to 3.0% from 2.4%.

26 March 2019 Consumers are Cash-Rich and Confident Don't Worry About Them (Publication Centre)

When Fed Chair Powell said last week that the "surprise" weakness in the official retail sales numbers is "inconsistent with a significant amount of other data", we're guessing that he had in mind a couple of reports which will be updated today.

Consistently Right

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