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The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index  declined slightly in February to 110.5 and follows a 111.1 value for January, this marks the second consecutive decline and a five-month low. The Present Situation Index, which is based on consumers’ sentiment of current business conditions and the labor market, increased to 145.1 from 144.5 in January. Inflation woes were certainly a factor as the proportion of consumers planning to purchase homes, automobiles, and major appliances all decreased. “While they do not expect the economy to pick up steam in the near future, they also do not foresee conditions worsening”, said Lynn Franco, senior director at the Conference Board. The expectations index, based on consumers’ six-month outlook for income, business, and labor market conditions, dipped to 87.5 in February from 88.8 in January. The share of consumers that said jobs are currently plentiful decreased to 53.8% down from 55.0%. Consumers that said jobs are currently hard to get were little changed at 11.8%, down from 12.0%.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis’ second estimate on fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth reported  an economy expanding at a seasonally adjusted annual growth rate of 7.0%, well above the 2.3% pace set in the third quarter, and up slightly over the first estimate of 6.9%. For all of 2021, the nation’s GDP grew by 5.7%. The acceleration in real GDP was driven by increases in private inventory investment, exports, PCE, and nonresidential fixed investment that were partly offset by decreases in both federal and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased. The increase in private inventory investment was led by retail and wholesale trade industries. Within retail, an upsurge in motor vehicle inventory was a leading contributor. The growth in the exports of goods was driven by consumer goods, foods, feeds, and beverages, as well as industrial supplies and materials. The growth in the exports of services was led by travel. The increase in PCE was led by health care, financial services and insurance, and transportation. The increase in nonresidential fixed investment was driven by an increase in intellectual property products. The decrease in federal government spending primarily reflected a decrease in defense spending.
The U.S Census Bureau reported  that new orders for durable goods increased 1.6% to a seasonally adjusted $277.5 billion in January. The increase follows an upwardly revised 1.2% reading for December and is up eight out of the last nine months. Total durable-goods orders are up 16.5% year over year. Excluding transportation, “core” durable-goods orders increased by 0.7%. Bookings for motor vehicles dropped 0.4% after a 1.8% increase in the previous month. Excluding defense, new orders increased 1.6%. Transportation equipment, up three consecutive months, led new orders up 3.4%. Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a proxy for business spending plans, increased 0.9% in January after a revised 0.4% gain a month earlier. Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft are up 10.5% year over year. Shipments of core capital goods rose 1.9% in January after increasing 1.6% the previous month.
Upcoming Economic Reports:
Thursday March 3 – Factory Orders (MoM) (January)
Friday March 4 – Unemployment Rate (February)