Sales of existing homes fell 0.4 percent in May to a 5.43 million-unit annual rate versus a 5.45 million pace in April, according to the National Association of Realtors. Sales have been in a flat trend recently, held back by limited inventory.
Retail sales posted the third strong monthly gain in a row following weak performances in January and February. Combining these data with strong readings from the AIER Leading Indicators index, the outlook for the economy remains upbeat.
Payrolls in the United States rose by 223,000 in May, solidly beating an expected rise of 188,000. Gains in the labor market have accelerated recently, reducing fears of a pending slowdown, yet the increases remain modest by historical comparison, suggesting that the slower and somewhat steadier gains of the current cycle may help prolong the expansion.
Total job openings in the United States rose to a record 6.550 million in March while private-sector job openings totaled 5.928 million. Overall, the data relating to the labor market continue to show strength with payrolls rising, few layoffs, rising quits, and a declining number of available workers per opening.
It was this time ten years ago that people started to catch on that something was going wrong. Home prices stopped rising, many were falling, the flipping schemes were dying out, and default notices were being posted for smaller banking houses. Could it be that the entire glory days of the spectacular increases in home prices were coming to an end? Denial was still in the air.
Real gross domestic product rose at a 2.3 percent annualized rate in the first quarter, down from a 2.9 percent pace in the fourth quarter of 2017. However, growth over the past four quarters hit 2.9 percent, the fastest four-quarter gain since the second quarter of 2015.
The small-business-optimism index from the National Federation of Independent Business fell in March but the result extends a run of 16 consecutive months above 100, a very high level by historical comparison. A significant concern among small businesses is the declining quality of the available labor force, particularly in the context of an already tight labor market and robust plans for increased hiring in the near future.
The employment report was weaker than expected for March, adding just 103,000 new jobs for the month. However, there are a number of tensions among the details of the report and with other measures of the labor market. Certainly, the BLS report could be the first of a string of weaker reports on the labor market and the economy more broadly, but the preponderance of data still support a positive outlook.
Real GDP grew at a 2.9 percent pace in the fourth quarter as domestic demand surged. Most of the major components of GDP made positive contributions, and core consumer prices rose at a modest pace, however, corporate profits did show a decline.
The Consumer Confidence Survey from The Conference Board shows consumer attitudes pulled back slightly in March but remain at historically favorable levels overall, suggesting support for ongoing economic expansion.
Recent data show that steady growth of the U.S. economy continues. After a disappointing first quarter of the year, gross domestic product posted healthy increases in the second and third quarters, at 4.6 and 3.5 percent annual rates.
The Great Recession of 2008-2009 will be remembered for its severity—a cumulative decline of 4.2 percent in real GDP, the loss of 8.7 million jobs, and a harsh toll on the banking system with more than 400 bank failures from 2008 to 2011. The Great Recession should also be remembered for the massive increase in the federal budget deficit it spawned.
As Labor Day marked the unofficial end of summer 2014 with backyard barbecues or long days at the beach, long gone were thoughts of the harsh winter and decline in first-quarter GDP. As we had expected it would, the U.S. economy rebounded in the second quarter, proving the naysayers, pessimists, and doom and gloom types completely wrong. In addition, U.S. equity markets continued to move higher throughout the summer, with many benchmarks hitting record highs. Twenty-fourteen was certainly no year to “sell in May and go away.”
Fifty years ago, the world was a different place. In 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, China detonated its first atomic bomb, Russian Premier Nikita Khruschev was deposed, and Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison. In the U.S., Lyndon Johnson received the democratic nomination for President, the Warren Commission’s report on the assassination of President Kennedy was released, New York hosted the World’s Fair, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, and the S&P 500 hit a peak of 86.28 in November.