Friday, March 12, 2010

Economics Events from the week-US January Trade Flows · US Core Retail Sales - US Initial Jobless Claims - $SPX

· US Michigan Confidence - The March reading for the University of Michigan consumer confidence survey declined 1.1 points to 72.5. The assessment of both current conditions and expectations declined slightly. The Michigan confidence survey has been fairly stable at low
levels since last fall. Of course, this morning's retail sales report shows that low levels of
confidence are not preventing some recovery in consumer spending. The measure of home
buying conditions has come off over the past few months, but is not nearly as weak as the
official home sales figures. Mellman Mar. 12

· US Core Retail Sales - Retail sales for February were much stronger than expected. Total
retail sales rose o.3% (consensus and JPMorgan -0.2%) and nonauto sales rose 0.8% (consensus 0.0%, JPMorgan 0.1%). The snowstorms appear to have depressed auto sales in February, but the rest of the retail sales report looks plenty strong.With strong gains in core retail sales in both January (0.6%) and February (0.9%), real consumer spending is tracking growth of 3.4% saar for the quarter, well above the 2.5% forecast. Mellman Mar. 12

· US January Trade Flows - The nominal trade balance in goods and services narrowed to - $37.3 billion in January from -$39.9 billion in December as exports and imports both partially reversed big gains in December. At the moment net exports are on track to make little contribution to 1Q GDP growth, which is in line with our forecast. Net exports also made only a small contribution to GDP growth last quarter (+0.3%), but the growth rate of exports and imports looks like it will slow considerably this quarter. Real merchandise $ trade rose 34% annualized in 4Q and imports jumped 29%. In contrast, the January level of real merchandise exports was only 4% annualized above the 4Q average, and exports were up only 3%. Some deceleration in the growth of trade flows is to be expected as trade was growing exceptionally fast last quarter. Reinhart Mar. 11

· US Initial Jobless Claims - Initial jobless claims fell to 462,000 in the week ending March 6 from 468,000 in the week ending February 27. Claims are also down from the recent high of 498,000 in the week ending February 20, when snowstorms boosted claims. Despite the decline in claims over the last two weeks they remain high and do not show a resumption of the downward trend that persisted from April through December of last year. The four-week
average of claims, at 475,500, has gradually increased since the start of the year and is now at the highest level since last November. Reinhart Mar. 11

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