Manufacturing activity slowed
its rate of improvement in February
, with the Institute for Supply Management
reporting that this key sector registered a reading of 52.9 for the month
. Although that still was nicely above the 50.0 dividing line between an expanding and a contracting manufacturing sector, the latest reading was nominally below the January rate of 53.5 and just under the forecast of 53.0.
The U.S. economy
, which had slowed its rate of improvement during the fourth quarter to begin with, as the initial estimate of the period's gross domestic product
had shown a reduction from 5.0% in the July-through-September term to 2.6% in the latest stanza, has seen that latter rate dwindle further, to 2.2% in the period's first revision.
At 10:00 A.M. (EDT), we received another report on the housing market
when the U.S. Department of Commerce
issued new residential sales data for the month of January. At first blush, the report was decent. Although new home sales
were down nominally on a sequential basis, they were above the consensus expectation and still running nicely above the prior-year figure.
The Conference Board, a private research organization, reported that its monthly survey on consumer confidence came in lower for the current month--as well as lower than expected.Specifically, the survey registered a reading of 96.4 in February. Now, on its own, this was a good result, being double what it had been at the nadir of the last recession. Nevertheless, that result was still below the 103.8 score registered for January.
The cold weather is apparently beginning to bite, if just incrementally, on average. Thus, after the economy
had been seemingly much more resilient to a myriad of weather-related issues in 2015 than in 2014, the latest such disruptions, albeit less severe for the country, at large, than a year earlier, is still hurting some key markets, including housing
On the heels of a deflationary producer price inflation
report and an uneven issuance on housing starts and building permits, all of which were released earlier this morning, the U.S. Commerce Department
has just reported that industrial production edged up by a scant 0.2% in January. That was half the 0.4% consensus gain forecast for the period.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development
reported data on new residential construction
for the month of January
. At first blush, the data looked decent,
with steady progress in the housing sector being made. Although ground breaking for single-family units slipped off of a more than six-year high, starts have now been above the one million mark for five consecutive months.
The U.S. Commerce Department said a bit earlier this morning that advance estimates of U.S. retail sales
for January tumbled by 0.8%
from the previous month, but was 3.3% above the year-earlier level. Total sales for November through January were up 3.8% from a year before.
The Labor Department
issued a positive report on employment this morning, erasing any concerns that recently unimposing data on fourth-quarter GDP growth
and manufacturing activity would be the start of a less-than-fulfilling business trend.
Coming on the heels of a pair of disappointing economic issuances, namely data on fourth-quarter GDP (released last Friday) and the monthly report on manufacturing activity (put out on Monday), the survey on non-manufacturing activity
issued within the past hour, was uplifting.