Shopfloor Economics

U.S. Trade Deficit Rose in October to Highest Point Since January

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The Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Census Bureau said that the U.S. trade deficit rose from $44.89 billion in September to $48.73 billion in October, its highest level since January. In the latest figures, the increase in the trade deficit stemmed mostly from a jump in goods imports (up from $195.88 billion to $199.40 billion), with goods exports (down from $130.64 billion to $130.32 billion) off slightly. On the positive side, goods exports remain not far from September’s figure, which was its best reading since December 2014. Beyond goods, service-sector exports (up from $65.29 billion to $65.59 billion) and imports (up from $44.93 billion to $45.24 billion) each rose to new all-time highs. Read More

New Factory Orders Edged Down 0.1 Percent in October, but Year-Over-Year Growth Remains Encouraging

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The Census Bureau said that new factory orders edged down 0.1 percent in October, easing off ever-so-slightly after jumping by 1.2 percent and 1.7 percent in both August and September, respectively. In October, nondurable goods orders were up by 0.7 percent, with new sales for durable goods off 0.8 percent. The decline for durable goods in October stemmed largely from significant declines in defense and nondefense aircraft and parts orders, which can often be highly volatile from month to month. (The November numbers should rebound strongly on healthy airplane demand at the Dubai Airshow.) Excluding transportation equipment, new orders were up 0.8 percent in October, rising for the fourth consecutive month.

Overall, new factory orders – which have struggled mightily over the past couple years – have largely trended in the right direction more recently, up nearly 3.7 percent since October 2016, or 6.8 percent with transportation equipment sales excluded.   Read More

Personal Spending Growth Was Modest in October, Extending the Robust Gain from September

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The Bureau of Economic Analysis said that personal spending rose modestly in October, up 0.3 percent. As such, the latest increase in personal consumption expenditures extended the robust 0.9 percent gain seen in September, which was the fastest monthly pace since August 2009. In October, the goods spending data were mixed, with nondurable goods purchases up by 0.2 percent but with durable goods outlays edging down by 0.1 percent. With that said, the longer-term picture remains favorable, as Americans have continued to spend at relatively healthy rates overall. Indeed, personal spending has increased 4.2 percent over the past 12 months, off slightly from 4.3 percent year-over-year in the previous release. In addition, goods spending for durable and nondurable goods were up 3.8 percent and 4.2 percent year-over-year, respectively.

Likewise, the savings rate has fallen from 4.1 percent in October 2016 to 3.2 percent in the current data, highlighting the degree to which Americans have become more willing to spend. At the same time, the savings rate did increase from 3.0 percent in September, largely on stronger income growth. Read More