Last updateTue, 25 Feb 2020 5pm

Consumer Sentiment at Highest Level Since May

The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index has averaged 97.0 in the past three years, the highest sustained level since the all-time record in the Clinton administration. Nearly all of the early December gain was among upper income households, who also reported near record gains in household wealth, largely due to increased stock prices. Indeed, among households with incomes in the top third of the distribution, their overall assessment of their current finances was the third highest in the past twenty years. These gains were aided by declining inflation expectations, with long term inflation expectations returning to an all-time low.

U.S. Added 266,000 Jobs in November

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 266,000 in November and the unemployment rate is down 0.1% to 3.5%, the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Notable job gains occurred in health care and in professional and technical services.

Manufacturing employment rose by 54,000 in November, reflecting the return of workers from a strike, following a decline of 43,000 in the prior month.

Factory Activity Contracted for Fourth Straight Month

Manufacturing contracted in November, as the PMI registered 48.1%, a decrease of 0.2% from the October reading of 48.3%. A reading above 50% indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding; below 50% indicates that it is generally contracting.

“The PMI contracted for the fourth straight month, at faster levels compared to October. This marks eight straight months of softening or contraction in manufacturing. All but one (supplier deliveries) of the PMI subindexes registered at levels associated with contraction. For the third straight month, two of the six big industries expanded, and four contracted,” says Timothy R. Fiore, chair of the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.

Durable Goods Orders Up 0.6% in October

New orders for manufactured durable goods in October increased $1.5 billion or 0.6% to $248.7 billion, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced. This increase, up four of the last five months, followed a 1.4% September decrease. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.6%. Excluding defense, new orders increased 0.1%. Fabricated metal products, up two of the last three months, led the increase, $0.6 billion or 1.8% to $34.1 billion.

Texas Manufacturing Sector Contracts for First Time Since 2016

Texas factory activity contracted slightly in November, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, dipped into negative territory for the first time since mid-2016, falling seven points to -2.4. Perceptions of broader business conditions worsened slightly in November. The general business activity index remained negative but moved up from -5.1 to -1.3.

Other measures of manufacturing activity were also negative in November, suggesting declines. The new orders index remained negative for a second month in a row, coming in at -3.0. The growth rate of orders index pushed further into negative territory, falling from -5.9 to -9.3. The capacity utilization and shipments indexes turned negative after three years in positive territory, falling to -5.3 and -4.5, respectively.


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