Inflation calm, retail sales flat

PPI-FD (December 2015)

– PPI-FD overall month/month -0.2%. Previous was +0.3%
– PPI-FD overall year/year   -1.0%. Previous was -1.1%
– PPI-FD core (less food & energy) month/month +0.1%. Previous was +0.3%
– PPI-FD core (less food & energy) year/year change  +0.3%. Previous was +0.5%
– PPI-FD core goods (less food, energy & trade services) month/month +0.2%. Previous was +0.1%
– PPI-FD core goods (less food, energy & trade services) month/month +0.3%. Previous was +0.3%

Inflation is about as calm as ever.  Prices are being held down by lack of demand as the economy of China slows and as there is a supply glut of oil.


Retail Sales (December 2015)

– Retail Sales month/month -0.1%. Previous was +0.4%
– Retail Sales less autos month/month -0.1%. Previous was +0.3%
– Less Autos & Gas month/month  +0.0%. Previous was +0.5%.

This makes official what we already knew from data such as credit card volume, namely that Retail sales in December were weak implying a very weak 4thQ2015 GDP.


Empire State Manufacturing Survey (January 2016)

– General Business Conditions Index  -19.37. Previous was -4.59.

This is a survey index measuring manufacturing in New York State.  The name “Empire State” is a reminder that New York, in addition to being the financial center of the nation, was once a leader in manufacturing.

Industrial Production (December 2015)

– Production month/month -0.4%. Previous was -0.9%
– Manufacturing month/month -0.1%. Previous was -0.1%
– Capacity Utilization Rate  76.5%. Previous was 76.9%

The Industrial part of the economy continues to contract.  Manufacturing is off only 0.1% but the broader measure which includes mining and oil production is off 0.9%. These are effects of a slowing in demand for raw materials.


Business Inventories (November 2015)

– Inventories month/month -0.2%. Previous was -0.1%.

Yet another hit to 4thQ2015 GDP.

Consumer Sentiment (January 2016)

– Sentiment Index 93.3. Previous was 92.6.
This is the University of Michigan Index.  It is supposed to forecast Consumer Spending in the next 90 days.

Sometimes it seems to me as if Consumer Sentiment is driven mainly by gasoline prices – the one price posted in very large numbers on every main street in the nation.