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December’s retail sales were revised downwards from -1.2% to -1.6% for the steepest drop since 2009, but sales rebounded slightly in January with a +0.2% gain. Compared to December, sales improved for sporting good/hobby/book stores (+4.8%, -6.1% Y/Y), building materials (+3.3%, +8.7% Y/Y), and nonstore (e.g. online) retailers (+2.6%, +7.3% Y/Y). Automotive sales dropped -2.4% in January after a +0.3 gain in December, bringing yearly sales up +0.2%, while dropping prices continued to cut into gasoline sales with a -2.0% drop in January following December’s -5.7% fall, bringing prices down -4.2% Y/Y. On a yearly basis overall sales were up +2.3% in January and +1.6% in December.
Flat service prices lessened the effect of a +0.4% increase in goods prices to bring wholesale inflation up +0.1% in February (+1.9% Y/Y). Over 80% of the increase in goods prices was due to the energy sector, which was itself pulled up by a +3.3% increase in gasoline prices. Food prices were down -0.3%, and removing the volatile food and energy sectors edged core goods prices up by +0.1%. On a yearly basis, food prices were up +1.9%, energy prices were down -6.4%, and core goods prices were up +2.4%. In services a -0.4% drop in trade services and a -1.3% drop in transportation and warehousing offset a +0.3% rise in core services to keep overall service prices unchanged. Yearly service prices were up +2.5%, as a +2.2% increase in core service prices lessened the effect of a +2.6% increase in trade service prices and a +4.5% gain in transportation and warehousing prices.
Industrial production edged up +0.1% in February, and January’s production was revised upwards to -0.4%, bringing yearly industrial production up to +3.5%. Mining production rose +0.3%, matching the previous month’s gain and was up +12.5% for the year, while utility production rose +3.7% after falling the previous two months and was up +9.0% for the year. Manufacturing was down for the second consecutive month at -0.4% in February following a -0.5% drop in January, which brought yearly manufacturing gains up +1.0%. Capacity utilization increased for utilities to 78.6% (+0.7%, -6.6% below long run average), while manufacturing utilization decreased to 75.4% (-0.4%, -2.9% below long run average), and mining utilization dropped to 94.6% (-0.3%, +7.5% above long run average).
Wednesday March 20 – FOMC Meeting Announcement
Friday March 22 – Existing Home Sales