Consumption underpinned by elevated consumer optimism. Retail sales remained steady in May, increasing 3.2 percent over the past year. Though this is slightly lower than the previous two months, spending appears to have further stabilized following heightened levels of consumption for much of 2018. Sustained economic optimism is supporting this trend as consumer confidence stays near historical highs.
Hiring softens, unemployment rate unchanged in May. Employers added 75,000 jobs last month, maintaining a historically low unemployment rate of 3.6 percent. Downward revisions to March and April’s figures offset June’s gains, taking the average number of new hires to 164,000 per month in 2019. Last year, a monthly average of 223,000 jobs were created.
Housing outlook rises as mortgage rates fall. Existing home sales fell for the second consecutive month in April, as the higher mortgage rates weighed on demand and the limited supply of available homes left entry-level buyers with few options. Though the housing market has had its challenges, builder sentiment is improving, leading to a moderate rise in permit issuance and housing starts.
Slight pickup in construction unlikely to alter demand dynamics. Amid steady job growth in the New York City economy, the apartment market is booming as single-family homes remain unreachable for most residents. Following the cyclical peak in multifamily construction in 2017, development has steadily declined, prompting incredibly tight vacancy rates metro-wide. All boroughs, with the exception of Manhattan, maintain vacancy rates below 2 percent, which has begun to sponsor tremendous growth in the average effective… Read More
Improved employment growth supporting historically low joblessness. Employers added 236,000 positions in April, bringing the year’s total job creation to 820,000, which is on par with previous years in this cycle. Expanded hiring activity compared with March drove the unemployment rate down to 3.6 percent, its lowest level in nearly 50 years.
Trade talks with China break down; protectionist policies accelerating. Following over a year of discussion with China, trade talks broke down, prompting the White House to raise tariffs to 25 percent on $200 billion of Chinese imports. The recent escalation represents the latest developments in trade talks that have been ongoing for over a year. Notable tariffs are currently in place covering steel and aluminum, as well as washing machines and solar panels. However, the… Read More
Job growth rebounds in March; pace of hiring moderating. Removed from the disrupting effects of the partial government shutdown and winter storms, U.S. employers created a combined 196,000 jobs last month, well above the 33,000 personnel who were added to payrolls in February. Employment gains for the first quarter bring the average monthly total to 180,000, down 19 percent from the first quarter of 2018. The decline in hiring is in line with the current… Read More
Retail sales showing consistency as year progresses. Softened consumer confidence in March had little impact on spending as core retail sales advanced 3.6 percent year over year. A second consecutive month of moderate yet steady growth can be traced to the healthy job market, rising income levels and increasing spending power. Though overall consumption grew at a stable pace, sales growth was concentrated in a few areas, including e-commerce.
Retail spending slows amid economic concerns. A moderating economy became more evident in February as core retail sales advanced 2.9 percent annually, following a revised gain of 4.3 percent one month earlier. Unresolved trade tensions as well as a weakening international economy continue to weigh on domestic growth, straining retail sales in the process. Over the past few months, spending habits have been sporadic as they moved with shifting levels of consumer confidence.
Interest rates fall as Fed shifts policy outlook. At its latest meeting, the Federal Reserve signaled an end to rate hikes this year, while reserving the potential for one increase in 2020. The Fed also announced its intention to end the runoff of its balance sheet, a process referred to as quantitative tightening. These steps have coincided with considerable financial market volatility and robust demand for Treasurys, which has pushed the 10-Year Treasury below the… Read More