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Economic Indicator - Retail Sales: Peeps, Gas and Consumer Spending

When it comes to tracking the economy, consumer spending is a biggie, and retail sales has a lot to say about how consumer spending is evolving. Today's retail sales release suggests that consumer spending continues to rise (there are some good reasons for that), and these increases are split between higher spending on gas and spending on a bunch of other stuff. Overall, today's report will be welcomed as good news, as the April numbers came in close to expectations and the March estimates were revised significantly upward.

U.S. International Trade: Exports vs. Imports, Oil and Quarterly Data

Today's release fills out the first quarter data on U.S. international trade, so let's focus on the first quarter data compared to the last quarter of 2010. What we said last month holds especially true now: never put too much focus on a single month's trade numbers, as the monthly wiggles can be largely influenced by a wide set of idiosyncratic factors.

Grocers and Warehouse Stores Compete with Gas Stations for our Fuel (and Junk Food) Dollars

We've talked recently about how the price of oil impacts U.S. trade and the average American's pocketbook, but we'll take a different angle here to look at how the price of oil impacts retail sales in anticipation of the April advance retail sales figures to be released tomorrow, Thursday, May 12.

Rising fuel costs are an immediate drain on our wallets, but it also means that grocery stores and warehouse clubs can take advantage of our taste for fuel and our desire to save a few cents per gallon to get us in the door.

ESA releases report on "U.S. Trade in Private Services"

Today the Commerce Department and ESA released a brief report on "U.S. Trade in Private Services." The report shows that the United States has consistently run a record services trade surplus that is driving overall exports growth and topped half a trillion dollars in 2010.

Our Petroleum Trade Deficit: Large and Growing

March data on U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services will be released tomorrow, Wed., May 11. One thing to keep in mind when looking at the March international trade figures is the role petroleum plays in month-to-month (as well as quarter-to-quarter and year-to-year) changes in the U.S. trade deficit.

April Job Numbers Soar High Above Private-Sector Expectations

Nonfarm businesses boosted payrolls by 244,000 jobs in April, significantly exceeding consensus private-sector expectations of 185,000 jobs. The growth came as private-sector firms added 268,000 jobs, the strongest one-month gain in half a decade. Indeed, private-sector employment is rising this year at a strong 2.4-percent annual rate, putting 2011's growth pace on track to be the fastest since 1999.

April Jobs Report: The Impact of Education and Age on Manufacturing Employment

Before getting into the numbers from today's employment release (check back for the forthcoming blog post on them), I want to dig a little deeper into the underlying data and examine what has been happening to a critical sector of the U.S. economy—manufacturing.

Car or Truck? Why Gas Prices Help Drive Car Sales

Not surprisingly, rising gasoline prices can affect motor vehicle buying behavior.1 And lately, prices have been rising fast. Based on daily estimates from the American Automobile Association (AAA), regular gasoline prices jumped again in April, following a string of increases that started in July of 2010. Over this same time period, the auto share of total light vehicle sales has been trending up. That is, buying behavior has shifted more toward autos and away from light trucks such as SUVs.

What GDP Didn't Show Us about Personal Income

GDP, Employment and Energy Prices

Q1 GDP growth came in at 1.8 percent – about what was expected. So, what does this mean? Well, 1.8 is less than 3.1 (the growth rate posted in the last quarter of last year) and is less than the rate most think the economy will grow at for the remainder of 2011. Therefore, Q1 appears to be a little bit of a pothole/air pocket/pause… which begs the questions, what caused this pothole and how concerned should we be?


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