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The minutes of the June Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC) meeting showed the median projected change in GDP upgraded from 2.7% for 2018 to 2.8%, a projected lower unemployment rate (to 3.6% in 2018, and 3.5% for 2019 and 2020), and higher short and mid-term PCE and core PCE inflation at 2.1%. The median consensus for longer run GDP (1.8%), unemployment (4.5%), and PCE inflation (2.0%) were unchanged, as was the longer run Federal Funds rate (2.9%). Predictions for the Federal Funds rate were increased from 2.1% to 2.4% for 2018, from 2.9% to 3.1% for 2019, and left unchanged at 3.4% for 2020, and a longer run 2.9%. Concerns raised at the meeting included the possibility that “ a prolonged period in which the economy operated beyond potential could give rise to heightened inflationary pressures or to financial imbalances that could lead eventually to a significant economic downturn”, and that uncertainty and risks regarding trade policy could result in negative effects on business sentiment and investments.
There were 213,000 jobs created in June, but an increase in the workforce participation rate of +0.2% to 62.9% helped push the unemployment rate up +0.2% to 4.0% (vs. 4.5% in June 2017). The more comprehensive U-6 measure of unemployment, which accounts for part time and marginally attached workers, also rose +0.2% to 7.8%. (vs 8.9% in June 2017). Jobs were created in professional and business services (+50,000), manufacturing (+36,000), health care (+25,000), and construction (+13,000), while -22,000 jobs were lost in retail, offsetting a +25,000 gain in retail jobs in the previous month. Manufacturing job gains were due primarily to durable goods manufacturing, with gain for motor vehicles and parts (+12,000), fabricated metal products (+7,000), and computers and electronics (+5,000). Average hourly earnings for all employees were $26.98 (+$0.05 M/M, +$0.72 Y/Y), while production and non-supervisory employees earned an average $22.62/hour (+$0.04 M/M).
In May, U.S. exports rose $4.1 billion to $215.3 billion, and imports rose $1.1 billion to $258.4 billion, narrowing the trade deficit by -6.6% to $43.1 billion. Goods exports increased $3.7 billion, with notable increases for civilian aircraft (+$1.9 billion) and soybeans (+$2.0 billion) offsetting a -$1.3 billion drop from industrial supplies and materials, which include petroleum products. Goods imports were up $2.1 billion, with contributions from a +$0.6 billion increase for telecommunications equipment and a +$0.4 billion increase in computers and a -$0.6 billion drop in pharmaceutical preparations. Service exports for transport, business services, and financial services were each up +$0.1 billion, contributing to a $0.4 billion overall increase, while service imports decreased -$0.1 billion, with -$0.1 billion drops each for transport and travel, offset somewhat by a +$0.1% increase in business services. By country, the largest trade deficit was with China, which increased to $32 billion (+$1.2 billion), with $43.7 billion (+$1.8 billion) in imports and $11.7 billion (+$0.6 billion) in exports.
Wednesday July 11 – Producer Price Index – Final Demand (PPI-FD)
Thursday July 12 – Consumer Price Index