US Retail & Light Vehicle Sales slow

Retail sales growth (excluding motor vehicles and parts) slowed to 2.4% over the 12 months to June 2017.

Retail Sales ex Motor Vehicles & Parts

Source: St Louis Fed & US Bureau of the Census

Seasonally adjusted light vehicle sales are also slowing.

Light Vehicle Sales

Source: St Louis Fed & BEA

Seasonally adjusted private housing starts and new building permits are starting to lose momentum.

Housing Starts & Permits

Source: St Louis Fed & US Bureau of the Census

The good news is that Manufacturer’s Durable Goods Orders (seasonally adjusted and ex Defense & Aircraft) are recovering.

Manufacturing Durable Goods Orders ex Defense & Aircraft

Source: St Louis Fed & US Bureau of the Census

Cement and concrete production continues to trend upwards.

Cement & Concrete Production

Source: US Fed

And estimated weekly hours worked (total nonfarm payroll * average weekly hours) is growing steadily.

Estimated Weekly Hours Worked

Source: St Louis Fed & BLS

All of which suggest that business confidence is growing and consumer confidence is likely to follow. Bellwether transport stock Fedex advanced to 220, signaling rising economic activity in the broader economy.

Fedex

Target: 180 + ( 180 – 120 ) = 240

The S&P 500 broke resistance at 2450, making a new high. Narrow consolidations and shallow corrections all signal investor confidence typical of the latter stages of a bull market. The immediate target is 2500* but further gains are likely.

S&P 500

Target: 2400 + ( 2400 – 2300 ) = 2500

The stock market remains an exceptionally efficient mechanism for the transfer of wealth from the impatient to the patient.

~ Warren Buffett

Why would the Fed raise interest rates when the economy is slowing?

10-Year Treasury yields have rebounded off their all-time low, shown here on a monthly chart, but remain in a secular down-trend. Only recovery above 3.0 percent (a long way off) would signal that the long-term down-trend has reversed.

10-Year Treasury Yields

The 5-year breakeven inflation rate (5-year Treasury Yield – 5-year TIPS yield) suggests that the long-term outlook for inflation is low. But growth in Hourly Non-Farm Earnings and Core CPI (excluding Food and Energy) has started to rise.

5-year Breakeven rate & Hourly Non-Farm Earnings Growth

One would expect the Fed to be preparing for another rate increase to tame inflationary pressures. But there are still concerns about the strength of the recovery.

Growth in estimated total weekly Non-Farm Earnings has been declining since early 2015; calculated by multiplying Average Hourly Earnings by Average Weekly Hours and the Total Non-Farm Payroll.

Estimated Weekly Non-Farm Earnings

If we examine the breakdown, growth in the Total Non-Farm Payroll is slowing and Average Weekly Hours Worked are declining.

Non-Farm Payrolls & Average Weekly Hours

Not what one would expect from a robust recovery.