Housing Starts and Permits Rise Sharply in June
Thanks to strong multi-family gains, both new housing starts and permits rose sharply in June, according to the Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. With an increase from 1,069,000 units in May to 1,174,000 in June, the data is stronger than the consensus estimate of roughly 1.1 million starts for the month and an encouraging sign that the market has gained some momentum. House permits were also up significantly in June, from 1,250,000 in May to 1,343,000, foreshadowing healthy gains in the months ahead. To learn more, visit here.
Manufacturing Activity Rebounding Somewhat in New York Fed Region
General business conditions from the New York Federal Reserve Bank improved slightly, from -2.0 in June to 3.9 in July, according to the Empire State Manufacturing Survey. Nonetheless, this improved data for July suggests only modest growth for the sector. New orders continued to decline, led by more respondents suggesting their sales had decreased for the month, and shipments and employment both eased as well. Moving forward, the New York Fed region remains mostly optimistic about the second half of the year, including anticipated relatively strong growth for shipments and capital expenditures. To learn more, visit here.
Producer Prices Higher in June
After a 0.5 percent increase in May, producer prices for final demand goods and services rose again in June (up 0.4 percent), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This continued rise over the past two months is consistent with the rise in West Texas intermediate crude oil prices, up from an average of $54.45 per barrel in April to $59.82 a barrel in June. Food costs have also increased over the past two months, 0.8 percent in May and 0.6 percent in June, but overall, food prices have fallen in 2015, down 2.9 percent year-to-date. To learn more, visit here.
Retail Sales Down Again in June
Retail sales unexpectedly fell by 0.3 percent in June, pulling back from the 1.0 percent gain seen in May, according to the Census Bureau. This decline was the first decrease in retail spending since February. Data was mixed in June, with higher sales reported for the electronics and appliances, general merchandise, health and personal care and sporting good and hobby stores sectors, but lower sales for the furniture, clothing and accessories, building materials, motor vehicles and parts, and nonstore retailers sectors. To learn more, visit here.