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The US Census Bureau reported advance retail sales fell 1.1% in July to $617.7 billion, ex-autos, retail sales dropped 0.4%. July’s figures are 15.8% higher than July 2020. For the period May 2021 to June 2021 U.S. retail and food services sales were up 20.6% over the same period in 2020. U.S. retail sales were weighed down by supply chain disruptions as auto dealerships sales were down 3.9%, after declining 2.2% in June. Vehicle production has been hampered by the semiconductor shortage. Online retailer sales fell by 3.1%. Although clothing stores dropped 2.6% in July, they were still up 43.4% as compared to July 2020. Sales of furniture (-0.6%), sporting goods (-1.9%) and building materials (-1.2%) all reported declines. Spending rotated to restaurants and the food service industry as receipts expanded 1.7% in July, increasing 38.4% year as compared to July 2020.
The U.S. Census Bureau reported new residential building permits were up 2.6% in July to a seasonally adjusted 1.635M, 6% above the July 2020 rate of 1.542M. Single-family permits were down 1.7% from a revised June figure of 1.066M. New residential building permits increased in the West (+13.3%) while dropping in the Midwest (-4.4%), South (-1.9%), and Northeast (-0.7%). Privately-owned housing starts were down 7.0% to 1.534M, 2.5% above the July 2020 rate of 1.497M. Single-family housing starts were also down, coming in at 1.111M, 4.5% below June’s revised 1.163M. Housing starts declined for both single-family and multifamily units, the Northeast region led the way (-49.3%), while the South was the only region where new construction activity increased (+2.1%). Privately-owned housing completions reported at 1.391M, up 5.6% from June, and up 3.8% over July 2020.
Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee’s latest meeting suggest that tapering of monthly asset purchases may start before year’s end or perhaps early next year. The central bankers made it clear that the tapering of assets was not a precursor to a rate hike. Although FOMC members broadly agreed that employment had not met the “substantial further progress” benchmark, they were “close to being satisfied” with the improvement in job growth. There was disagreement as to when and how fast to taper. Some participants felt that monetary policy was still required to bolster the economy, while others held an opposing view indicating that Fed policy had achieved what was needed. Others countered that the pandemic had fundamentally changed the economy and that the pre-pandemic labor conditions “may not be the right benchmark”. There were also opposing views among FOMC members about inflation, “a few” indicated current inflation levels have met the central bank’s 2% target, while others expressed concern that inflation over the longer term could run persistently below the Committee’s 2% target.
Wednesday August 25 – Core Durable Goods Orders (MoM) (July)
Thursday August 26 – GDP (QoQ) (Q2)