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Retail sales in March were revised upward by +0.1% to +1.7%, but April’s sales slipped down -0.2%, and down to a year over year gain of +3.1% vs a +3.8% yearly gain for March. Sales dropped in April for building and garden supplies (-1.9%), electronics and appliances (-1.3%), motor vehicles (-1.1%), clothing stores (-0.2%), and nonstore (online) retailers (-0.2%), but the overall drop was limited by a +1.8% gain in gasoline station sales that were boosted by rising fuel prices. On a yearly basis, sales fell the most for the broad category of sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and book stores (-8.5%), followed by drops of -4.3% for electronics and appliance stores, and -3.1% for furniture and home furnishings. Yearly sales rose for nonstore retailers (+9.0%), restaurants (+5.7%), gasoline stations (+4.9%), health and personal care (+3.6%), and general merchandise stores (+2.7%), although the department store component of general merchandise fell -3.0% Y/Y.
Industrial production for the first quarter of 2019 was revised down to a -1.9% annual rate, as April declined -0.5% after an upwardly revised +0.2% rate for March, and downwardly revised rates for February (-0.5%) and January (-0.4%). Overall yearly production was up +0.9% with a +10.4% increase in oil and gas drilling boosting mining production and softening the effects of a -4.7% drop in utilities and a -0.2% fall in manufacturing output. Automotive production fell off -1.8% in April, helping to drag down durable goods production to a -0.8% drop, while a -1.2% drop in chemical products and a seasonal -3.6% drop in consumer energy production pushed nondurable goods production to a -1.3% fall.
Housing starts grew by +5.7% in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 1.235 million units, and single family home construction gained +6.2% to a 854,000 SAAR. The steepest gains were in the Northeast, as single family home construction grew +29.6% and total home construction was up +84.6% to a 144,000 SAAR, pushing yearly construction rates in the Northeast up +48.5%. However, the largest market for home construction is in the South, where rates have fallen steadily since January and are now down -12.2% for the year, dropping from 662,000 units in April 2018 to 581,000 units in April 2019, and dragging nationwide yearly construction rates down -2.5% to a 1.235 million SAAR, including a -4.3% drop in single family home construction to a 854,000 SAAR.
Thursday May 23 – New Home Sales
Friday May 24 – Durable Goods Orders