Existing Homes Sales and Inventory Months of Supply (thru June 2015)

Most of homes sold are existing homes sales, so it is an important area of the housing sector to follow. I’m continuing a feature called “Easy Trends” – a place where I’ll analyze the recent trend for an indicator and discuss whether it is currently going up, down or neither. You can read the basics of my methodology on the FAQ page.

NOTE: You may be reading an outdated analysis. Please visit my latest existing homes sales and inventory months of supply trend analysis for more info.

Quick ‘n Easy

Typically, if it would take longer than 6 months for the unsold inventory of existing homes (not newly built) to be sold at the latest pace of sales, we can expect prices for existing homes to go down. If it’s less than 6 months, we can expect prices to go up.

You can get a sense for whether there are too many existing homes still on sale (inventory) by taking the total inventory and dividing it by the pace of sales. The result is “months of supply,” which basically means that if existing homes were to continue selling at the same rate as the most recent month of data, the current inventory of homes would be sold by that many months. A normal reading is around 6 months – higher number means too much inventory, and if supply is greater than demand, that usually means prices will drop.

Here’s a chart of the Existing Homes Inventory Months of Supply from Calculated Risk: (focus on the red line)

Existing Homes Months of Supply June 2015 - Calculated Risk

Courtesy: CalculatedRiskBlog.com

Existing Homes Sales Trends and Projections

Below, I will discuss whether the indicator is currently in a trend, when the last confirmed trend was and what that says about projecting the next data point to be released. I typically start my analysis from three years ago. continue reading…

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Initial Weekly Unemployment Claims (4-Week Moving Average) thru Week Ending July 11, 2015 – Easy Trends

In this article, I’ll do an “Easy Trends” analysis of the initial weekly unemployment claims data.  “Easy Trends” is a place where I’ll analyze the recent trend for an indicator and discuss whether it is currently going up, down or neither.  You can read the basics of my methodology on the FAQ page.

NOTE: You may be reading an outdated analysis.  Please visit my latest unemployment claims trend analysis for more info.

Quick ‘n Easy

By tracking the number of people who are filing for unemployment benefits for the first time each week, we get a quick insight into the latest status of the economy’s health.  Fewer claims equals more jobs, which equals more income, which usually equals more consumer spending (70% of the economy!) that supports company profits, which in turn can lead to more hiring.

Quick Version of Easy Trends Analysis

For the Initial Weekly Unemployment Claims series, I will be doing only a brief update as long as the level of claims is super low (below 300,000) or just low (below 350,000) but without a confirmed upward trend (which is undesirable of course). I will only call out a few specific statistics that I like to track. I’ll be tracking the trends, but it takes a lot of time to do the post, so I won’t do a post with the full analysis unless there is any cause for concern. Bottom Line: If you’re seeing my “quick version” of this analysis – don’t be worried about weekly jobless claims!

NOTE: The last time I did a full update was for the week ending March 7, 2015

4-week moving average of weekly initial unemployment claims: 282,500   (Excellent – we want this number to be below 350,000)

4-week moving average of weekly initial unemployment claims as a percent of the total size of the nation’s workforce: 0.18 percent   (Excellent)

Current Trend: Confirmed upward trend of about 3,000 more claims per week.   (Bad)

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Industrial Production – Easy Trends (thru June 2015)

Let’s talk about industrial production, its importance and the current trends. I’m continuing a feature called “Easy Trends” – a place where I’ll analyze the recent trend for an indicator and discuss whether it is currently going up, down or neither. You can read the basics of my methodology on the FAQ page.

NOTE: You may be reading an outdated analysis. Please visit my latest industrial production trend analysis for more info.

Quick ‘n Easy

Industrial Production (IP) measures how much is being produced by factories, mines and utilities. The changes in IP track very closely with changes in the overall economy.

First, a nice summary of what Industrial Production (IP) is from Econoday:

The index of industrial production shows how much factories, mines and utilities are producing. The manufacturing sector accounts for less than 20 percent of the economy, but most of its cyclical variation. Consequently, this report has a big influence on market behavior. In any given month, one can see whether capital goods or consumer goods are growing more rapidly. Are manufacturers still producing construction supplies and other materials? This detailed report shows which sectors of the economy are growing and which are not.

Easy Translation: The first sentence is probably enough for an understanding – what’s being produced at factories, mines and utilities. The second sentence is a key detail though. Because it relates to manufacturing, and manufacturing is only about 20 percent of our economy, at first glance one might consider this indicator not important. But the changes in the manufacturing sector track the changes in the economy extremely well. In other words, the cycles of the two are well matched, making IP incredibly important to track.

Here’s a ten-year chart of the Industrial Production Index from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (a level of “100” represents the level in 2007):

Industrial Production Index - June 2015 - FRED

Source: StLouisFed.org

Industrial Production Trends and Projections

Below, I will discuss whether industrial production is currently in a trend, when the last confirmed trend was and what that says about projecting the next data point to be released. I generally start my analysis from 3 years ago. continue reading…

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Note to my readers…

I’ve had a hectic work/personal schedule combined with being a bit under the weather. My apologies for not posting in a long time!

I won’t be able to post again until Thursday. Fortunately, it’s another fairly quiet week for the reports I track. Industrial production comes out Wednesday, so I should be able to analyze and post that trend on Thursday. It’s a key one, because it’s one of only two of my reports that’s stuck in a negative trend (the other is “factory reports”).

Thanks for your continued support…

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Economic Indicators Roundup (July 6, 2015)

Economic indicators are everywhere, so this is kind of like a dashboard that I like to follow.  For each indicator, I will try to give you a brief description, the latest reading and what I understand to be its implications.  For simplicity, I will assign each a rating of positive, neutral or negative.  For the economic indicators, I will denote in each one’s section how I decide which rating to give it.  At the end, I assign an overall rating, but this is just to guide me in my takeaway of where things stand.  It’s not scientifically rigorous or anything.

  • Positive – indicative of a healthy, growing economy.
  • Neutral – indicative of a slow or no growth economy but not a contracting (recession) economy.
  • Negative – indicative of a shrinking economy or recession.

(NOTE: For a “Quick ‘n Easy” read, just review the labeled white boxes, then skip to my “Easy Take” summary at the end.  You can review any charts/graphs afterward.  I want to make sure no one is intimidated by the length of my posts, even though I’m trying to making them easy …)


Quick Summary

Indicator (Click for details – only works if full article is open) Current Rating (change from previous roundup)
GDPNow (GDP Forecast from Atlanta Fed) Neutral
ADS Business Conditions Index Neutral
Bloomberg Financial Conditions Index Neutral
Big Four Economic Indicators Neutral
Daily Consumer Leading Indicators Negative
Employment Trends Index Positive
Chicago Fed National Activity Index Neutral
Easynomics Real Estate Price Stability Index Positive
 Citigroup Economic Surprise Index Reports slightly worse than expectations
Easy Trends Dashboard   (min/max -3 to +3) +1.67 = Very likely moving in a positive direction with a few unconfirmed trends or trends in a bad direction

NOTE: You may be reading an outdated analysis.  Please visit my latest economic indicators roundup.



Economic Indicator: GDPNow   |   NEUTRAL
Easy Intro: None yet   |   Link to Source   |   Latest Date This Info Represents: 2nd Quarter 2015 (i.e., three months ending June 2015)

Quick ‘n Easy

The current forecast for real GDP growth in the 2nd quarter of 2015 is 2.2 percent – below-average growth by historical standards but modestly better than the 1st quarter’s slight contraction. The Federal Reserve Board of Atlanta combines a whole bunch of public data to mimic what the government does when reporting Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is the broadest and most comprehensive measure of the economy that is widely accepted. It basically measures the value of all goods and services produced in the country, regardless of industry. In a sense, that’s what economics is all about, the value of things. The rate at which GDP is growing tells us whether our economy is strong or not. Historically, the average has been about 3.3 percent per year. It would be great to see at least that rate of growth.

Economic Indicators - GDPNow from Atlanta Fed - Jul 1 2015

Source: FRBAtlanta.org

Easy Description: GDPNow is a frequently updated estimate of the growth rate of the economy (GDP growth) as opposed to having to wait for quarterly estimates from the Bureau of Economic Analysis for “official” figures.

Latest Readings:

2nd Quarter of 2015: On July 1, GDPNow is positive (+) 2.2 percent annualized growth rate (versus +2.1 percent on June 25)

NOTE: “Annualized growth rate” is how much growth we would see over a full year if economic growth continued at the same pace as it did in the latest quarter being forecast.

Implications: The 1st quarter of 2015 showed slight contraction (-0.7 percent annualized rate), but many feel it was slowed by several temporary factors that should subside over the course of the following quarters. The latest indications of 2nd quarter growth suggest better growth than the 1st quarter, but still below historical averages.

Easynomics Rating Methodology: For this index, I will use data on the most recent quarter available. If the latest GDPNow estimate refers to a quarter for which there is already an official BEA reading, then I will go with the BEA reading. I will rate anything between zero and (+) 3.3 as “neutral” – anything above or below that will be rated “positive” or “negative” respectively.

continue reading…

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Initial Weekly Unemployment Claims (4-Week Moving Average) thru Week Ending June 27, 2015 – Easy Trends

In this article, I’ll do an “Easy Trends” analysis of the initial weekly unemployment claims data.  “Easy Trends” is a place where I’ll analyze the recent trend for an indicator and discuss whether it is currently going up, down or neither.  You can read the basics of my methodology on the FAQ page.

NOTE: You may be reading an outdated analysis.  Please visit my latest unemployment claims trend analysis for more info.

Quick ‘n Easy

By tracking the number of people who are filing for unemployment benefits for the first time each week, we get a quick insight into the latest status of the economy’s health.  Fewer claims equals more jobs, which equals more income, which usually equals more consumer spending (70% of the economy!) that supports company profits, which in turn can lead to more hiring.

Quick Version of Easy Trends Analysis

For the Initial Weekly Unemployment Claims series, I will be doing only a brief update as long as the level of claims is super low (below 300,000) or just low (below 350,000) but without a confirmed upward trend (which is undesirable of course). I will only call out a few specific statistics that I like to track. I’ll be tracking the trends, but it takes a lot of time to do the post, so I won’t do a post with the full analysis unless there is any cause for concern. Bottom Line: If you’re seeing my “quick version” of this analysis – don’t be worried about weekly jobless claims!

NOTE: The last time I did a full update was for the week ending March 7, 2015

4-week moving average of weekly initial unemployment claims: 274,750   (Excellent – we want this number to be below 350,000)

4-week moving average of weekly initial unemployment claims as a percent of the total size of the nation’s workforce: 0.17 percent   (Excellent)

Current Trend: Unconfirmed downward trend of about 2,500 fewer claims per week, but latest reading too high to include in downward trend.   (Good, but could be changing)

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