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October 31, 2016

This Week’s Top Economic Data Points: U.S. Economic Growth Improves

  • The U.S. economy expanded at a 2.9 percent annual rate in the third quarter of 2016, the federal government reported Friday. The positive report was due to improvements in private inventory investment, higher exports, and an increase in federal government spending. In other economic growth news: the Chicago Federal Reserve’s National Activity Index rose to -0.14 in September from -0.72 in August.
  • The Federal Reserve of Richmond announced last week that its manufacturing index rose to -4 in October from -8 in September. The sub-index for employment rose to +3 from -16 and readings for shipments and wages also improved, but the new orders sub-index fell to -12 this month from -7 last month. The Kansas City Federal Reserve’s manufacturing reading, meanwhile, remained steady at +6 from September to October. Readings for production, employment, shipments and new orders all improved. According to the bank, the reading was “mostly attributable to continued strength in metals, machinery, and chemical production.”
  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), 258,000 individuals filed for federal unemployment benefits for the first time for the week that ended Oct. 22, down from 261,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims rose slightly, however. The number of individuals who continued to receive benefits fell to 2.039 million for the week that ended Oct. 15 from 2.054 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims also declined and was at its lowest level since July 2000. DOL also reported last week that compensation costs for civilian workers increased 0.6 percent in the third quarter of 2016. Wages and salaries rose 0.5 percent while benefits increased 0.7 percent.
  • In other economic news: new home sales in the United States rose 3.1 percent between August 2016 and September 2016 and 29.8 percent between September 2015 and September 2016; the University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey fell to 87.2 in October from 91.2 in September; and the Conference Board Index of Consumer Confidence declined to 98.6 in October from 103.5 in September as consumers’ fears about growth in the future worsened.