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June 27, 2016

This Week’s Top Economic Data Points: Growth Slowing In The United States?

  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said last week that the U.S. economy would grow 2.2 percent this year, down from its previous 2.4 percent estimate, issued in April. The IMF kept its 2017 estimate for the United States the same at 2.5 percent. In related growth news, the Chicago Federal Reserve announced that the three-month moving average of its National Activity Index decreased to -0.36 in May from -0.25 in April, a reading that “suggests that growth in national economic activity was somewhat below its historical trend.” The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index also fell in May. Conference Board Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research Ataman Ozyildirim said, “While the LEI suggests the economy will continue growing at a moderate pace in the near term, volatility in financial markets and a moderating outlook in labor markets could pose downside risks to growth.”
  • Wholesale sales in Canada increased 0.1 percent from March 2016 to April 2016. It was the first increase in wholesale trade in three months, but the reading was well below analysts’ expectations, which had predicted a 0.5 percent increase. At 1.32, the inventory-to-sales ratio was unchanged.
  • The Kansas City Federal Reserve announced last week that its manufacturing index increased to +2 in June from -5 in May. Readings for production, shipments, employment, new orders, and backlogs all “rose considerably.”
  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of individuals who filed for federal unemployment insurance benefits fell to 259,000 for the week that ended June 18 from 277,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also fell, as did the number of individuals who continued to file for benefits. That figure dropped to 2.142 million for the week that ended June 11 from 2.162 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims fell to 2.147 million from 2.152 million.
  • In other economic news: new home sales in the United States fell six percent between April 2016 and May 2016, but were up 8.7 percent between May 2015 and May 2016; existing home sales in the United States increased 1.8 percent for the month of May and were up 4.5 percent year-over-year; and the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index fell to 93.5 in June from 94.7 in May because “consumers increasingly expect a slower pace of economic growth in the year ahead.”