Small Business Optimism Rises for Second Straight Month
The Small Business Optimism Index rose for the second straight month from 96.9 in April to 98.3 in May, according to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). At its highest level so far in 2015, this increase suggests that small business owners have begun to move beyond the recent lull in confidence. This mostly positive report includes key indicator growth in areas such as expansion, sales and hiring, but also includes data suggesting some lingering caution from anxieties about the economy. To learn more, visit here.
Retail Sales Up Again in May
Retail sales increased 1.2 percent in May, bouncing back from a softer April of just 0.2 percent, according to the Census Bureau. On a year-over-year basis, consumers spent 2.7 percent more today than 12 months ago, but the data continues to reflect the softer economic environment seen so far in 2015. Gasoline sales experienced strong growth in May, as well as building materials and supplies, motor vehicles and parts, clothing and accessories and nonstore retailers. The only category to experience declining sales was health and personal care stores (down 0.3 percent). To learn more, visit here.
Producer Prices Higher in May Due to Increased Food and Energy Costs
Producer prices for final demand goods and services rebounded from a 0.4 percent decline in April to a 0.5 percent increase in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The cost for foods was up 0.8 percent, leading to higher producer prices for items like eggs (up 42.9 percent!), fish, fruits and vegetables, pork and turkeys. Also greatly contributing to the higher producer prices was an increase in energy costs of 5.9 percent in May. To learn more, visit here.
Global Manufacturing Update
The international economy remained weak in May, despite some modest progress in a few markets. Five of the top 10 markets for U.S.-manufactured goods (Brazil, Canada, China, Hong Kong and South Korea) experienced contracting levels of manufacturing activity in May, with China reporting declining levels of activity for five of the past six months. On a more positive note, Japan experienced better demand and production data last month, the Eurozone rose to its highest level of manufacturing activity in 12 months and Canada (the United States’ largest trading partner) has shown signs of a possible rebound. To learn more, visit here.