Held down by weakness in the nonresidential component, construction spending didn't get a lift at all from the mild weather late last year, rising only 0.1 percent in December following a downwardly revised 0.6 percent decline in November and a 0.1 percent contraction in October. Year-on-year, spending was up 8.2 percent, a respectable rate but still the slowest since March last year.
But there is very good news in the report and that's a very strong 0.9 percent rise in residential construction where the year-on-year rate came in at plus 8.1 percent. Spending on multi-family units continues to lead the residential component, up 2.7 percent in the month for a 12.0 percent year-on-year gain. Single-family homes rose 1.0 percent in the month for an 8.7 percent year-on-year gain.
Now the bad news. Non-residential spending fell 2.1 percent following a 0.2 percent decline in November. Steep declines hit manufacturing for a second month with the office and transportation components also showing weakness. Still year-on-year, non-residential construction rose 11.8 percent.
Rates of growth in the public readings are led by highway & streets, at a 9.4 percent surge for December and a year-on-year rate of plus 12.0 percent. Educational growth...
Employment sank the ISM index in January which could muster no better than a 48.2 for what, following annual revisions to 2015, is the fourth sub-50 reading in a row. This is by far the worst run for this closely watched indicator since the Great Recession days of 2009.
Employment fell a very steep 2.1 points to 45.9 to signal significant contraction for manufacturing payrolls in Friday's employment report, which however would not be much of a surprise given the sector's prior payroll contraction. This is the third sub-50 reading for employment of the last four months and the lowest reading since, once again, 2009.
There is good news in the report and that's a snapback for new orders, to 51.5 for only the second plus 50 reading of the last five months and which points to overall improvement in the coming reports. But backlog orders, at only 43.0, remain in deep contraction, and what strength there is in orders isn't coming from exports which are in contraction for the seventh of the last eight months. Manufacturers have been working down backlogs to keep production up, which came in at 50.2 to signal fractional monthly growth. Inventories remain steady and low but the sample still say they are too high, sentiment that points to lack of confidence in the business outlook.
Confirming the weakness is breadth...
Chinese manufacturers signaled a modest deterioration in operating conditions at the start of 2016, with both output and employment declining at slightly faster rates than in December. Total new business meanwhile fell at the weakest rate in seven months, and despite a faster decline in new export work. Nonetheless, lower production requirements led companies to cut back on their purchasing activity and inventories of inputs. On the prices front, both input costs and output charges fell again in January, though at the weakest rates in seven months.China PMI
Weaker client demand led manufacturers to discount their prices charged again in January, thereby extending the current sequence of deflation to 18 months (although the rate of reduction was the slowest seen since June 2015). Lower selling prices were supported by a further fall in average input costs at the start of the year. In line with the trend for charges, the rate of decline eased to the weakest in seven months. Lower cost burdens were generally linked to reduced raw material prices.
A Financial Times survey of 51 economists, conducted in the days after the Fed’s January meeting, underscores the impact of the past month’s severe market turbulence and a string of lacklustre economic reports out of the US and China.
The fear that the world’s largest economy — considered the lone engine of global growth — is on the verge of recession has intensified. In the FT’s December survey economists had put the odds of a US recession at 15 per cent during the next two years. Now, they see a one-in-five chance of recession in the next 12 months.
Economists surveyed by the FT emphasised that while the odds of a recession had climbed, a large majority still expected the US to escape one. Several who have fielded increased investor calls on the subject said that the conversation had been skewed because of the near obsession with the price of oil — a point that they argued had more to do with supply than global demand.
Mr Gapen, who put the odds of a recession between 10 and 15 per cent, said that he still thought strong consumption trends would keep the US economy from contraction.
Nearly 40 percent of German voters think Chancellor Angela Merkel should quit over her liberal asylum policy after almost 1.1 million newcomers arrived last year, a poll showed Friday.Peak Merkel
As the mood in Germany has shifted from a euphoric welcome for people fleeing war and persecution last September to growing doubts about the country's ability to accommodate and integrate the record influx, the popular Merkel has come under increasing pressure.
However, the poll for Focus news magazine conducted by the independent opinion research institute Insa among 2,047 German citizens showed that a larger share -- nearly 45 percent -- did not think Merkel should resign.
Among members of her conservative Christian Union bloc, nearly 27 percent said they wanted Merkel, who has been in power since 2005, to step down.
Consumer spending is the central driver of the economy but is slowing, at least it was during the fourth quarter when GDP rose only at a 0.7 percent annualized rate. Final demand rose 1.2 percent, which is the weakest since first quarter last year but is still 5 tenths above GDP.GDPNow Final Estimate 1.0%
Price data are not accelerating, at plus 0.8 percent for the GDP price index which is the lowest reading since plus 0.1 in the first quarter last year. The core price reading is only slightly higher, at plus 1.1 percent which is also the weakest reading in a year.
There are definitely points of concern in this report, especially the weakness in exports and business investment, but it's the resilience in the consumer, despite a soft holiday season, that headlines this report and should help confirm faith in the domestic strength of the economy.
The Bank of Japan has slashed interest rates to minus 0.1 per cent in a shock move that adds a new dimension to its record monetary stimulus.
Showing its willingness to expand the policy further, the BoJ said it “will cut the interest rate further into negative territory if judged necessary”.
“The bank will lower the short end of the yield curve by slashing its deposit rate on current accounts into negative territory and will exert further downward pressure on interest rates across the entire yield curve.”
However, the BoJ will use a complicated three-tier system, which makes the negative rate much weaker than comparable moves by the ECB and other European central banks.
Crucially, it will only pay negative rates on any new bank reserves resulting from its programme of asset purchases. All existing bank reserves — which amount to about $2.5tn or 50 per cent of gross domestic product — will continue to be paid interest at 0.1 per cent.
That means there is unlikely to be any impact on bank profits or bank depositors in the short term. The negative interest rate will only have an impact over time...
The Japanese lettuce production company Spread believes the farmers of the future will be robots.
So much so that Spread is creating the world's first farm manned entirely by robots. Instead of relying on human farmers, the indoor Vegetable Factory will employ robots that can harvest 30,000 heads of lettuce every day.
Don't expect a bunch of humanoid robots to roam the halls, however; the robots look more like conveyor belts with arms. They'll plant seeds, water plants, and trim lettuce heads after harvest in the Kyoto, Japan farm.
The Vegetable Factory follows the growing agricultural trend of vertical farming, where farmers grow crops indoors without natural sunlight. Instead, they rely on LED light and grow crops on racks that stack on top of each other.
In addition to increasing production and reducing waste, indoor vertical farming also eliminates runoff from pesticides and herbicides — chemicals used in traditional outdoor farming that can be harmful to the environment.
The new farm, set to open in 2017, will be an upgrade to Spread's existing indoor farm, the Kameoka Plant. That farm currently produces about 21,000 heads of lettuce per day with help from a small staff of humans. Spread's new automation technology will not only produce more lettuce, it will...
The factory sector ended 2015 with a giant thud. Durable goods orders fell 5.1 percent in December vs expectations for a 0.2 percent gain and a low-end estimate of minus 3.0 percent. Aircraft orders didn't help but they weren't the whole cause of the problem as ex-transportation orders fell 1.2 percent vs expectations for no change and a low-end estimate of minus 0.4 percent. Core capital goods, which exclude defense equipment and also aircraft, are especially weak, down 4.3 percent following a 1.1 percent decline in November. Shipments for core capital goods, which are an input into GDP, slipped 0.2 percent following a downward revised 1.1 percent decline in November (initially minus 0.4 percent).
Orders for civilian aircraft lead the dismal list, down 29 percent in December. The other main subcomponent for transportation, motor vehicles, also fell, down 0.4 percent in a reminder that vehicle sales were slowing at year end. Capital goods industries show deep declines: machinery down 5.6 percent, computers down 8.7 percent,...
Torsten Sløk, chief international economist at Deutsche Bank, is taking the optimistic route by drawing attention to a certain economic model that currently puts the chance of an imminent contraction in the single digits. The Federal Reserve's so-called probit model looks at the difference between 10-year and three-month U.S. Treasury rates to gauge the probability of a U.S. recession over the next 12 months.The Model
"The Fed has a workhorse recession model where [the] yield curve today is a predictor of future recessions, and running the Fed’s probit model with today’s values for 10-year and 3-month rates shows that there is currently a 4 percent probability of a recession over the next 12 months," Sløk said in an e-mail.
Facing hefty yields, the financially ailing Chicago Public Schools (CPS) postponed Wednesday's planned $875 million bond sale and will evaluate the timing on a day-to-day basis, a school official said.Five Questions for Chicago
The nation's third-largest public school system is struggling with a structural budget deficit of at least $1 billion. Its fiscal woes led Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and Republican lawmakers last week to push for a state takeover and potential bankruptcy for CPS - moves that were quickly shot down by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who controls the school system, and leaders of the Democratic-controlled legislature.
A pre-pricing marketing scale circulated by underwriters on Tuesday for the "junk"-rated general obligation bonds showed yields topping out at 7.75 percent with coupons of 7.25 percent for bonds due in 2041 and 7 percent for bonds due in 2044. That yield indicated a so-called credit spread over Municipal Market Data's benchmark triple-A yield scale of as much as 506 basis points.
That spread was wider than the 464 basis-point spread the school system's 19-year bonds were fetching in secondary market trading last week.
The outlook for the housing sector just got a boost from a sharp jump in new home sales, up 10.8 percent to a 544,000 annualized rate that is 44,000 over the Econoday consensus and 24,000 over the high estimate. The gain, however, may have been boosted by discounting as the median price slipped 2.7 percent to $288,900 for a year-on-year rate of minus 4.3 percent.
With builders slow to bring new homes to market, low supply remains a central factor holding back sales. Supply did rise 6,000 in the month to 237,000 but supply relative to sales fell back to 5.2 months from 5.6 months. A reading of 6.0 months is considered to be the balance point between supply and demand.
Regional data show a 32 percent sales surge in the Midwest where the year-on-year rate of 39 percent is the strongest. Sales in the West and Northeast both rose 21 percent in the month with the year-on-year rate in the West, which is a key region for new housing, up 22 percent while the Northeast, which is a very small region in this report, down 6.5 percent on the year. The South, which is the largest region, shows a fractional gain in the month and no change on the year.
For full year 2015, new home sales rose 14.7 percent to 501,000 from 437,000 in 2014. Sales of new...