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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the consumer price index rose 0.3% in August; this follows a 0.5% increase in July. The index’s year-on-year rate is up a seasonally adjusted 5.3% from a year ago. The indexes for shelter (+0.2%), food (+0.4%), energy (+2.0%), and new vehicles (+1.2%) all contributed to the increase. Used car and truck prices dropped 1.5%, the first decline in 5-months. Shelter, which makes up a third of the overall CPI is up 2.8% year over year. The energy index is up some 25% over the past 12 months. The gasoline index rose 42.7% over the last year. Transportation services reported a decline of 2.3% and follows a 1.1% drop the previous month. Core CPI, which excludes the more volatile food and energy costs moderated some, increasing 0.1% in August, this is the smallest increase since February 2021. The annual rate of Core CPI inflation dropped to 4.0%, this follows a 4.3% reading for the 1-year period ending in July.
The Commerce Department reported advance retail sales increased 0.7% to $618.7B in August, following a downwardly revised 1.8% in July. Excluding autos, sales advanced 1.8%. Retail sales are tracking some 15.1% higher than August 2020. Total sales for June 2021 through August 2020 were up 16.3% year over year. Sales increases were reported in internet retailers (+.5.3%), furniture and home furnishings (+3.7%), department stores (+2.4%), retail trade (+0.8%), building materials (+0.9%) and gas stations (+0.2%). Sales decreases were reported in electronics and appliance retails (-3.1%) and sporting goods (-2.7%). Sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers dropped 3.6% in August and follows a 4.6% decrease in July. “Core” retail sales, which excludes automobiles, gasoline, building materials, and food services increased 2.5%, rebounding from a downwardly revised 1.9% in July.
The Labor Department reported slightly higher initial jobless claims for the week ending September 11. Last week’s figures are the first since the federal boost to unemployment insurance payments expired. The seasonally adjusted initial claims came in at 332,000, an increase of 20,000 from the previous week’s upwardly revised level. Hurricane Ida left its mark as Louisiana reported an initial claims increase of 4,058. The four-week moving average, which smooths out volatility was 335,750, the lowest level since March 2020. Continuing claims reported in at 2.665M for the week ending September 4, a decrease from the previous week’s upwardly revised 2.852M level, it is now at the lowest level since March 2020. Continuing claims was at about 13M at the same time last year. The four-week moving average for continuing claims fell by 50,000 to 2.807M. A little over 12.1M people were receiving benefits under all programs for the week ending August 28th up 180K from the previous week. There were nearly 30.3M people collecting benefits in the comparable week in 2020.
Tuesday September 21 – Building Permits (August)
Friday September 24 – New Home Sales (August)