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In its steepest drop since January, wholesale inflation  fell -0.3% in September bringing the annual rate to a 3 year low of 1.4%. Trade services, which measure the changes in margins received by wholesalers and retailers, fell -1.0% and led the overall -0.2% drop in service prices for the month. About half of the services decline was due to a -2.7% drop in machinery and vehicle wholesaling with additional drops due to retailing for automotive fuel, apparel, and commercial equipment. However, service prices rose for outpatient hospital care (+1.1%), wired telecommunication access, and food and alcohol wholesaling. Wholesale goods prices dropped -0.4% primarily due to -7.2% decline in gasoline prices. Excluding food, energy, and trade services wholesale price inflation was unchanged for the month but dropped from an annual +1.9% rate in August to a +1.7% annual rate in September.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Optimism Index  for September slowed from 103.1 to 101.8. The report showed a slowing in plans to increase employment, expand businesses, or make capital outlays along with lowered expectations for the economy to improve, sales to increase or for credit conditions to improve. Plans to increase inventories, current inventories and current job openings remained unchanged from the previous month’s levels. The report’s authors noted that the 101.8 reading was historically very solid and consistent with solid but slower growth, but that uncertainty was edging up and projected that caution would seep into business decisions. The report also noted that federal tax cuts had a significant effect on small businesses and that small business owners were anxious to have those cuts made permanent.
The August Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary  showed job openings dropping -1.7% to 7.051 million in their third consecutive monthly decline, but openings still exceeded the number of available workers. Job openings decreased for nondurable goods manufacturing (-49,000), and in information (-47,000), but increased for transportation (+21,000), durable goods manufacturing (+20,000), and construction (+19,000). Hires dropped -199,000 to 5.8 million, and total separations were relatively unchanged at 5.6 million. For the 12 months ending in August there were 69.5 million hires and 67.1 million separations, with a net gain of 2.4 million jobs.
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Wednesday October 16 – Retail Sales
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