Thu 8 Mar 2018


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In Portfolioticker today

read_this Hey Jarvis, how did we go today?

Today at the stock market

bull/bearThe three major U.S. stock indexes closed higher on Thursday after President Donald Trump appeared to soften his stance on trade tariffs, easing trade war fears that had had the market on edge for a week.

  • The S&P 500 index rose 12.17 points, or 0.45%, to 2,738.97.
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 93.85 points, or 0.38%, to close at 24,895.21.
  • The Nasdaq Composite index rose 31.30 points, or 0.42%, to 7,427.95.
  • Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.38-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.15-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
  • The S&P 500 posted 26 new 52-week highs and one new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 157 new highs and 22 new lows.
  • Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.38 billion shares, compared to the 7.65 billion average for the last 20 trading days.

Tariff Policy

Trump announced import tariffs on steel and aluminium but said Canada and Mexico would be exempt and that other countries could apply for exemptions, although details of when they would be granted were thin.

“This is something that bites less than what the rhetoric was last week,” said Chuck Carlson, Chief Executive Officer at Horizon Investment Services in Hammond, Indiana. “It’s a softer play on the idea than the original ‘sky was falling’ reaction last week when it sounded like it was going to be across the board, no ifs, ands or buts, and everybody was just going to get hammered,” he said.

Ahead of the news that trickled out from the White House in the last hour and a half of the trading day, the S&P had zig-zagged in a tight range between positive and negative territory as investors were uncertain about what Trump would say.

Worries that the tariffs would ignite a global trade war have dominated markets since he announced the tariff plan last Thursday, and the exit of chief economic adviser Gary Cohn late Tuesday intensified the concerns.

But not everybody was pleased with the latest trade news.

Century Aluminum shares fell 7.5% after the news as it had been seen benefiting from higher prices if the tariffs were put in place. Shares in U.S. Steel Corp fell 2.9% while AK Steel closed down 4%.

Michael O’Rourke, Chief Market Strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut was still concerned about how Trump’s policies could affect global trade. “He dialed it back a little bit, but they’re still tariffs, and we’re still going in the wrong direction from a policy perspective if you’re a markets-focused globalist. I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes out with different tariffs on other things,” he said.

The energy index was the only one of the S&P’s 11 sectors to end the day lower, with a 0.1% drop as oil prices declined.Reuters

Market indices

Market indices
^ Market indices today (mouseover for 12 month view) Chart: Google Finance

Index Ticker Today Change 31 Dec 17 YTD
S&P 500 SPX (INX) 2,738.97 +0.44% 2,673.61 +2.44%
DJIA INDU 24,895.21 +0.37% 24,719.22 +0.71%
NASDAQ IXIC 7,427.95 +0.42% 6,903.39 +7.59%

Portfolio Indices

USD and AUD denominated indices over the past 52 weeks (Chart: Bunting)
^ USD and AUD denominated indices over the past 52 weeks Chart: Bunting

Index values

Index Currency Today Change 31 Dec 17 YTD
USD-denominated Index USD 3.317 +0.83% 3.068 +8.13%
Valuation Rate USD/AUD 0.78412 -0.44% 0.78528 -0.15%
AUD-denominated Index AUD 4.232 +1.26% 3.909 +8.28%

Portfolio stock prices

Amazon closed on a record high of $1,551.86, up 0.45% on yesterday’s record of $1,544.90.

Stock Ticker Today Change 31 Dec 17 YTD
Alphabet A GOOGL $1,129.38 +1.28% $1,053.00 +7.25%
Alphabet C GOOG $1,126.00 +1.44% $1,045.65 +7.68%
Apple AAPL $176.94 +1.09% $169.23 +4.55%
Amazon AMZN $1,551.86 +0.45% $1,169.54 +32.68%
Ebay EBAY $43.68 -0.60% $37.76 +15.67%
Facebook FB $182.34 -0.76% $176.46 +3.33%
PayPal PYPL $79.87 +0.44% $73.61 +8.50%
Twitter TWTR $34.85 -2.55% $24.01 +45.14%
Visa V $122.22 +0.30% $114.02 +7.19%
VMware VMW $123.52 -0.59% $125.32 -1.44%

FX: USD/AUD

USD

DXY movements
^ Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index (DXY) movements today (mouseover for 12 month view) Chart: Bloomberg

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index (DXY) rose 0.4%.
The EUR fell 0.8% to USD 1.2315.
Britain’s GBP fell 0.6% to USD 1.3814, the first retreat in more than a week.
Japan’s JPY fell 0.2% to 106.25 per USD.
The MSCI Emerging Markets Currency Index fell 0.2%.

The yield on 10-year Treasuries fell 3 basis points to 2.86%.
Germany’s 10-year yield dropped 2 basis points to 0.628%.
Britain’s 10-year yield declined 2 basis points at 1.474%.
Bloomberg

AUD

AUD movements
^ AUD movements against the USD today (mouseover for 12 month view) Chart: xe.com

Oil and Gas Futures

Futures prices

Prices are as at 15:47 ET

  • NYMEX West Texas Intermediate (WTI): $60.18/barrel -1.59% Chart
  • ICE (London) Brent North Sea Crude: $63.75/barrel -0.92% Chart
  • NYMEX Natural gas futures: $2.75/MMBTU -0.94% Chart

flag_australia AU: Managed Funds. Dec 2017

Press Release Extract [au_funds]

At 31 December 2017, the managed funds industry had $3,389.6b funds under management, an increase of $109.6b (3%) on the September quarter 2017 figure of $3,279.9b. Increases were recorded in consolidated assets of managed funds institutions, $82.4b (3%); funds managed by Australian investment managers on behalf of Australian entities other than managed funds institutions, $24.2b (5%); and funds managed by Australian investment managers on behalf of overseas investors, $3.3b (3%).

The following diagram shows the total value of the managed funds industry at 31 December 2017 and the relationship between the various components of the industry:

au_managedfunds_20180308

The main valuation effects that occurred during the December quarter 2017 were as follows: the S&P/ASX 200 increased 6.7%; the price of foreign shares, as represented by the MSCI World Index excluding Australia, increased 5.1%; and the A$ depreciated 0.5% against the US$.

MANAGED FUNDS INSTITUTIONS

Consolidated Assets of Managed Funds Institutions

At 31 December 2017, the consolidated assets of managed funds institutions were $2,745.6b, an increase of $82.4b (3%) on the September quarter 2017 figure of $2,663.2b.

The asset types that increased were shares, $34.6b (7%); units in trusts, $29.7b (4%); overseas assets, $17.3b (4%); land, buildings and equipment, $5.8b (2%); bonds, etc., $5.5b (7%); and deposits, $3.4b (1%). These were partially offset by decreases in short term securities, $6.4b (7%); other financial assets, $4.7b (2%); derivatives, $1.8b (6%); loans and placements, $0.7b (2%); and other non-financial assets, $0.4b (3%).

At 31 December 2017, there were $563.8b of assets cross invested between managed funds institutions.

UNCONSOLIDATED ASSETS

At 31 December 2017, the unconsolidated assets of superannuation (pension) funds increased $81.8b (3%); public offer (retail) unit trusts increased $13.1b (4%); life insurance corporations increased $3.8b (2%); common funds increased $0.3b (3%); and friendly societies increased $0.1b (2%). Cash management trusts decreased $1.3b (4%).

Life insurance corporations

At 31 December 2017, total unconsolidated assets of life insurance corporations were $242.1b, an increase of $3.8b (2%) on the September quarter 2017 figure of $238.3b.

Increases were recorded in shares, $3.0b (14%); units in trusts, $2.0b (1%); assets overseas, $1.1b (8%); short term securities, $0.3b (12%); and derivatives, $0.1b (16%). These were partially offset by decreases in other financial assets, $1.8b (22%); loans and placements, $0.8b (16%); and other non-financial assets, $0.1b (1%). Land, buildings and equipment, bonds, etc., and deposits were flat.

Net policy liabilities were $187.0b, an increase of $2.9b (2%) compared to the September quarter 2017.

Superannuation (pension) funds

At 31 December 2017, total unconsolidated assets of superannuation funds were $2,657.6b, an increase of $81.8b (3%) on the September quarter 2017 figure of $2,575.8b.

Increases were recorded in units in trusts, $38.7b (4%); shares, $29.4b (7%); assets overseas, $14.9b (4%); bonds, etc., $4.5b (9%); deposits, $3.5b (1%); and net equity of pension funds in life office reserves, $2.0b (1%). These were partially offset by decreases in short term securities, $5.2b (8%); other financial assets, $3.5b (2%); derivatives, $2.1b (7%); loans and placements, $0.2b (3%); and other non-financial assets, $0.2b (8%). Land, buildings and equipment were flat.

Public offer (retail) unit trusts

At 31 December 2017, total unconsolidated assets of public offer (retail) unit trusts were $356.0b, an increase of $13.1b (4%) on the September quarter 2017 figure of $342.9b.

Increases were recorded in land, buildings and equipment, $5.8b (4%); shares, $2.4b (7%); units in trusts, $2.1b (3%); assets overseas, $1.2b (4%); bonds, etc., $0.8b (10%); loans and placements, $0.6b (2%); other financial assets, $0.5b (12%); derivatives, $0.2b (9%); and short term securities, $0.1b (3%). These were partially offset by decreases in deposits, $0.4b (4%); and other non-financial assets, $0.1b (3%).

Cross investment within public offer (retail) unit trusts was $33.2b, an increase of $0.4b (1%) compared to the September quarter 2017.

Friendly societies

At 31 December 2017, total unconsolidated assets of friendly societies were $7.3b, an increase of $0.1b (2%) on the September quarter 2017 figure of $7.1b.
Friendly societies

Common funds

At 31 December 2017, total unconsolidated assets of common funds were $10.8b, an increase of $0.3b (3%) on the September quarter 2017 figure of $10.5b.
Common funds

Cash management trusts

At 31 December 2017, total unconsolidated assets of cash management trusts were $35.7b, a decrease of $1.3b (4%) on the September quarter 2017 figure of $37.0b.

Decreases were recorded in short term securities, $1.6b (7%); and equities, $0.2b (19%). These were partially offset by increases in deposits, $0.2b (3%); and bonds, etc., $0.2b (6%). Other financial assets, derivatives, loans and placements and non-financial assets were flat.

Cross investment within cash management trusts was $0.7b, a decrease of $0.2b (21%) compared to the September quarter 2017.

RESIDENT INVESTMENT MANAGERS

Source of funds under management

At 31 December 2017, total funds under management were $2,080.5b, an increase of $66.3b (3%) on the September quarter 2017 figure of $2,014.2b.

Funds under management on behalf of superannuation funds increased $36.1b (3%), public offer (retail) unit trusts increased $2.8b (2%) and life insurance corporations increased $0.5b (0%). Cash management trusts decreased $0.6b (3%).

At 31 December 2017, the value of funds under management on behalf of sources other than managed funds was $535.7b, an increase of $24.3b (5%) on the September quarter 2017 figure of $511.4b.

Increases were recorded in funds under management of behalf of national government, $10.7b (13%); wholesale financial trusts, $5.8b (3%); non-government trading corporations, $3.1b (9%); government compensation schemes, $2.5b (11%); other sources, $1.4b (3%); state and local government, $0.7b (1%); and other investment managers, $0.4b (3%). These were partially offset by a decrease in general insurance, $0.4b (1%). Charities were flat.

The value of funds under management on behalf of overseas sources at 31 December 2017 was $120.2b, an increase of $3.3b (3%) on the September quarter 2017 figure of $116.9b.

Australian Bureau of Statistics, “5655.0 Managed Funds. Dec 2017“, 8 Mar 2018 (11:30 AEDT) More

flag_australia AU: International Trade in Goods and Services. Jan 2018

containership_20170413b

Press Release Extract [au_trade]

Balance on Goods and Services

In trend terms, the balance on goods and services was a surplus of $94m in January 2018, a decrease of $55m on the surplus in December 2017.
In seasonally adjusted terms, the balance on goods and services was a surplus of $1,055m in January 2018, a turnaround of $2,201m on the deficit in December 2017.

Credits (Exports of Goods and Services

In seasonally adjusted terms, goods and services credits rose $1,394m (4%) to $33,924m. Non-rural goods rose $869m (4%) and non-monetary gold rose $770m (54%). Rural goods fell $312m (8%) and net exports of goods under merchanting fell $9m (17%). Services credits rose $77m (1%).

Debits (Imports of Goods and Services

In seasonally adjusted terms, goods and services debits fell $807m (2%) to $32,869m. Consumption goods fell $586m (7%), non-monetary gold fell $95m (19%), capital goods fell $90m (1%) and intermediate and other merchandise goods fell $68m (1%). Services debits rose $31m.”

Nov 2017 Dec 2017 Jan 2018 Change
EXPORTS of goods and services (Credits)
Trend estimates $32,411m $32,688m $33,000m +1%
Seasonally adjusted $31,975m $32,530m $33,924m +4%
IMPORTS of goods and services (Debits)
Trend estimates $32,155m $32,539m $32,907m +1%
Seasonally adjusted $31,722m $33,676m $32,869m -2%
BALANCE on goods and services
Trend estimates +$256m +$149m +$94m -37%
Seasonally adjusted +$252m -$1,146m +$1,055m LTP

Australian Bureau of Statistics, “5368.0 International Trade in Goods and Services. Jan 2018“, 8 Mar 2018 (11:30 AEDT) More

flag_europe EU: Monetary Policy Meeting

Monetary Policy Decision

Press Release Extract [eu_ecb]

At today’s meeting the Governing Council of the ECB decided that the interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain unchanged at 0.00%, 0.25% and -0.40% respectively. The Governing Council expects the key ECB interest rates to remain at their present levels for an extended period of time, and well past the horizon of the net asset purchases.

Regarding non-standard monetary policy measures, the Governing Council confirms that the net asset purchases, at the current monthly pace of €30 billion, are intended to run until the end of September 2018, or beyond, if necessary, and in any case until the Governing Council sees a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation consistent with its inflation aim. The Eurosystem will reinvest the principal payments from maturing securities purchased under the asset purchase programme for an extended period of time after the end of its net asset purchases, and in any case for as long as necessary. This will contribute both to favourable liquidity conditions and to an appropriate monetary policy stance.

European Central Bank, “Governing Council of the ECB: Monetary Policy Meeting“, 8 Mar 2018 More

Press Conference Introductory Statement

Press Release Extract [eu_ecb]

Based on our regular economic and monetary analyses, we decided to keep the key ECB interest rates unchanged. We continue to expect them to remain at their present levels for an extended period of time, and well past the horizon of our net asset purchases.

Regarding non-standard monetary policy measures, we confirm that our net asset purchases, at the current monthly pace of €30 billion, are intended to run until the end of September 2018, or beyond, if necessary, and in any case until the Governing Council sees a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation consistent with its inflation aim. The Eurosystem will continue to reinvest the principal payments from maturing securities purchased under the asset purchase programme for an extended period of time after the end of its net asset purchases, and in any case for as long as necessary. This will contribute both to favourable liquidity conditions and to an appropriate monetary policy stance.

Incoming information, including our new staff projections, confirms the strong and broad-based growth momentum in the euro area economy, which is projected to expand in the near term at a somewhat faster pace than previously expected. This outlook for growth confirms our confidence that inflation will converge towards our inflation aim of below, but close to, 2% over the medium term. At the same time, measures of underlying inflation remain subdued and have yet to show convincing signs of a sustained upward trend. In this context, the Governing Council will continue to monitor developments in the exchange rate and financial conditions with regard to their possible implications for the inflation outlook. Overall, an ample degree of monetary stimulus remains necessary for underlying inflation pressures to continue to build up and support headline inflation developments over the medium term. This continued monetary support is provided by the net asset purchases, by the sizeable stock of acquired assets and the forthcoming reinvestments, and by our forward guidance on interest rates.

Let me now explain our assessment in greater detail, starting with the economic analysis. Real GDP increased by 0.6%, quarter on quarter, in the fourth quarter of 2017, after increasing by 0.7% in the third quarter. The latest economic data and survey results indicate continued strong and broad-based growth momentum. Our monetary policy measures, which have facilitated the deleveraging process, continue to underpin domestic demand. Private consumption is supported by rising employment, which is also benefiting from past labour market reforms, and by growing household wealth. Business investment continues to strengthen on the back of very favourable financing conditions, rising corporate profitability and solid demand. Housing investment has improved further over recent quarters. In addition, the broad-based global expansion is providing impetus to euro area exports.

This assessment is broadly reflected in the March 2018 ECB staff macroeconomic projections for the euro area. These projections foresee annual real GDP increasing by 2.4% in 2018, 1.9% in 2019 and 1.7% in 2020. Compared with the December 2017 Eurosystem staff macroeconomic projections, the outlook for real GDP growth has been revised up for 2018 and remains unchanged for 2019 and 2020.

The risks surrounding the euro area growth outlook are assessed as broadly balanced. On the one hand, the prevailing positive cyclical momentum could lead to stronger growth in the near term. On the other hand, downside risks continue to relate primarily to global factors, including rising protectionism and developments in foreign exchange and other financial markets.

According to Eurostat’s flash estimate, euro area annual HICP inflation decreased to 1.2% in February 2018, from 1.3% in January. This reflected mainly negative base effects in unprocessed food price inflation. Looking ahead, on the basis of current futures prices for oil, annual rates of headline inflation are likely to hover around 1.5% for the remainder of the year. Measures of underlying inflation remain subdued overall. Looking forward, they are expected to rise gradually over the medium term, supported by our monetary policy measures, the continuing economic expansion, the corresponding absorption of economic slack and rising wage growth.

This assessment is also broadly reflected in the March 2018 ECB staff macroeconomic projections for the euro area, which foresee annual HICP inflation at 1.4% in 2018, 1.4% in 2019 and 1.7% in 2020. Compared with the December 2017 Eurosystem staff macroeconomic projections, the outlook for headline HICP inflation has been revised down slightly for 2019 and remains unchanged for 2018 and 2020.

Turning to the monetary analysis, broad money (M3) continues to expand at a robust pace, with an annual rate of growth of 4.6% in January 2018, unchanged from the previous month, reflecting the impact of the ECB’s monetary policy measures and the low opportunity cost of holding the most liquid deposits. Accordingly, the narrow monetary aggregate M1 remained the main contributor to broad money growth, continuing to expand at a solid annual rate.

The recovery in the growth of loans to the private sector observed since the beginning of 2014 is progressing. The annual growth rate of loans to non-financial corporations strengthened to 3.4% in January 2018, after 3.1% in December 2017, while the annual growth rate of loans to households remained unchanged at 2.9%. The pass-through of the monetary policy measures put in place since June 2014 continues to significantly support borrowing conditions for firms and households, access to financing ‒ notably for small and medium-sized enterprises ‒ and credit flows across the euro area.

To sum up, a cross-check of the outcome of the economic analysis with the signals coming from the monetary analysis confirmed the need for an ample degree of monetary accommodation to secure a sustained return of inflation rates towards levels that are below, but close to, 2% over the medium term.

In order to reap the full benefits from our monetary policy measures, other policy areas must contribute decisively to raising the longer-term growth potential and reducing vulnerabilities. The implementation of structural reforms in euro area countries needs to be substantially stepped up to increase resilience, reduce structural unemployment and boost euro area productivity and growth potential. Against the background of overall limited implementation of the 2017 country-specific recommendations, as communicated by the European Commission yesterday, greater reform effort is necessary in the euro area countries. Regarding fiscal policies, the increasingly solid and broad-based expansion calls for rebuilding fiscal buffers. This is particularly important in countries where government debt remains high. All countries would benefit from intensifying efforts towards achieving a more growth-friendly composition of public finances. A full, transparent and consistent implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact and of the macroeconomic imbalance procedure over time and across countries remains essential to increase the resilience of the euro area economy. Deepening Economic and Monetary Union remains a priority. The Governing Council urges specific and decisive steps to complete the banking union and the capital markets union.

Mario Draghi, President of the ECB, Vítor Constâncio, Vice-President of the ECB, “Press Conference, Introductory Statement“, 8 Mar 2018 Statement

flag_usa US: Job Cut Report. Feb 2018

Press Release Extract [us_jobcuts]

The nation’s employers announced plans to cut 35,369 jobs in February, down 20 percent from the 44,653 cuts announced in January, according to a report released Thursday by global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Last month’s total is 4.3 percent lower than the 36,957 announced job cuts in February 2017. So far this year, employers have announced 80,022 cuts, 3.5 percent lower than through February last year. This is the lowest number of announced job cuts between January and February since 1995, when 69,907 cuts were announced.

“The economy is almost at full employment, and companies are holding on to their workforces. Announced job cuts have been below 50,000 a month for the last 22 months. That’s the longest streak in our tracking,” said John Challenger, Chief Executive Officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

In fact, the last longest streak of monthly job cuts under 50,000 was for 13 months beginning February 1996 through February 1997.

Retail leads all sectors in job cuts so far this year, with 21,484, 6,106 of which were announced in February. Health Care/Products follows with 10,392 in the first two months of the year, while the Consumer Products sector has announced 10,320.

“President Trump’s proposed new tariffs on steel and aluminum may spell more jobs in those industries in the short term. However, with automation dominating those industries, the tariffs will more likely cause companies that manufacture using those products, such as automotive and aerospace, to cut jobs,” said Challenger.

Meanwhile, retailers led in hiring announcements, as Lowe’s and The Home Depot announced the addition of 133,000 seasonal jobs for Spring. The 139,000 hiring announcements are the most announced in February since Challenger began tracking hiring in 2006.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas, “Job Cuts Report“, 8 Mar 2018 (07:30) More

flag_usa US: Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report

Press Release Extract [ser_4]

In the week ending March 3, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 231,000, an increase of 21,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 210,000. The 4-week moving average was 222,500, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 220,500.

Claims taking procedures in Puerto Rico and in the Virgin Islands have still not returned to normal.

us_ue_20180301

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.3 percent for the week ending February 24, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week’s unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending February 24 was 1,870,000, a decrease of 64,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up 3,000 from 1,931,000 to 1,934,000. The 4-week moving average was 1,906,750, a decrease of 14,250 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 1,000 from 1,920,000 to 1,921,000.

us_ue_20180301

Unadjusted Data

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 226,450 in the week ending March 3, an increase of 30,519 (or 15.6 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected an increase of 10,080 (or 5.1 percent) from the previous week. There were 243,959 initial claims in the comparable week in 2017.

The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.6 percent during the week ending February 24, unchanged from the prior week. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 2,227,076, a decrease of 31,735 (or -1.4 percent) from the preceding week. The seasonal factors had expected an increase of 44,480 (or 2.0 percent) from the previous week. A year earlier the rate was 1.8 percent and the volume was 2,447,592.

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending February 17 was 2,293,851, a decrease of 1,879 from the previous week. There were 2,434,335 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2017.

Extended benefits were available in Alaska and the Virgin Islands during the week ending February 17.

Initial claims for UI benefits filed by former Federal civilian employees totaled 585 in the week ending February 24, a decrease of 63 from the prior week. There were 555 initial claims filed by newly discharged veterans, a decrease of 72 from the preceding week.

There were 12,954 former Federal civilian employees claiming UI benefits for the week ending February 17, an increase of 1,145 from the previous week. Newly discharged veterans claiming benefits totaled 8,196, a decrease of 255 from the prior week.

The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending February 17 were in the Virgin Islands (7.8), Alaska (3.9), Puerto Rico (3.1), Connecticut (2.9), New Jersey (2.9), Montana (2.8), Pennsylvania (2.7), Rhode Island (2.7), Massachusetts (2.6), California (2.4), and Illinois (2.4).

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending February 24 were in Massachusetts (+3,809), Rhode Island (+933), Oregon (+706), Kansas (+424), and Vermont (+330), while the largest decreases were in California (-9,158), Pennsylvania (-1,971), New Jersey (-1,474), New York (-1,384), and Texas (-1,347).

Employment and Training Administration, “Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report“, 8 Mar 2018 (08:30) More

Comment: Reuters

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rebounded last week from a more than 48-year low, but the trend continued to point to robust labor market conditions.

That was underscored by other data on Thursday showing job cuts announced by U.S.-based employers fell 20% in Feb 2018. Federal Reserve officials consider the labor market to be near or a little beyond full employment. The tight jobs market is seen boosting wage growth and spurring inflation.

“The well looks increasingly dry to many companies seeking skilled workers, and time will tell whether the lack of labor will slow the overall economy in future months,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased by 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 231,000 for the week ended March 3, the Labor Department said. Claims dropped to 210,000 in the prior week, which was the lowest level since December 1969.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 220,000 in the latest week. It was the 157th straight week that claims remained below the 300,000 threshold, which is associated with a strong labor market. That is the longest such stretch since 1970, when the labor market was much smaller.

The claims data has no impact on February’s employment report, which is scheduled for release on Friday, as it falls outside the survey period. Claims mostly declined in February, leading economists to expect another month of strong job growth.

According to a Reuters survey of economists, the Labor Department’s closely followed employment report will likely show that nonfarm payrolls increased by 200,000 jobs last month, matching January’s gains. The unemployment rate is forecast falling one-tenth of a percentage point to 4.0 percent, which would be the lowest level since December 2000.Reuters

flag_usa US: Quarterly Services Survey. Q4/2017

Press Release Extract [us_services]

Selected Services Total
U.S. selected services total revenue for the fourth quarter of 2017, not adjusted for seasonal variation or price changes, was $3,786.8 billion, an increase of 2.2 percent (± 0.2 percent) from the third quarter of 2017 and up 5.0 percent (± 3.6 percent) from the fourth quarter of 2016. The third quarter of 2017 to fourth quarter of 2017 percentage change was revised from the advance estimate of 2.4 percent (± 0.4 percent).

Information

U.S. information sector revenue for the fourth quarter of 2017, adjusted for seasonal variation but not for price changes, was $405.6 billion, an increase of 1.3 percent (± 0.6 percent) from the third quarter of 2017 and up 6.5 percent (± 3.2 percent) from the fourth quarter of 2016. The second quarter of 2017 to third quarter of 2017 percentage change was revised from 1.8 percent (± 0.6 percent) to 2.1 percent (± 0.4 percent).

Professional, scientific, and technical services

U.S. professional, scientific, and technical services revenue for the fourth quarter of 2017, adjusted for seasonal variation but not for price changes, was $443.8 billion, an increase of 1.1 percent (± 1.1 percent) from the third quarter of 2017 and up 1.3 percent (± 5.9 percent) from the fourth quarter of 2016. The second quarter of 2017 to third quarter of 2017 percentage change was not revised from 0.0 percent (± 1.1 percent).

Administrative and support and waste management and remediation services

U.S. administrative and support and waste management and remediation services revenue for the fourth quarter of 2017, adjusted for seasonal variation but not for price changes, was $241.2 billion, an increase of 0.8 percent (± 1.1 percent) from the third quarter of 2017 and up 6.7 percent (± 6.6 percent) from the fourth quarter of 2016. The second quarter of 2017 to third quarter of 2017 percentage change was revised from 1.2 percent (± 1.1 percent) to 1.3 percent (± 0.9 percent).

Utilities

U.S. utilities revenue for the fourth quarter of 2017, not adjusted for seasonal variation, or price changes, was $145.0 billion, a decrease of 7.6 percent (± 2.7 percent) from the third quarter of 2017 and up 3.0 percent (± 7.6 percent) from the fourth quarter of 2016. The third quarter of 2017 to fourth quarter of 2017 percentage change was revised from the advance estimate of -6.3 percent (± 2.7 percent).

Transportation and warehousing

U.S. transportation and warehousing revenue for the fourth quarter of 2017, not adjusted for seasonal variation, or price changes, was $229.5 billion, a decrease of 1.2 percent (± 1.1 percent) from the third quarter of 2017 and up 3.0 percent (± 7.0 percent) from the fourth quarter of 2016. The third quarter of 2017 to fourth quarter of 2017 percentage change was revised from the advance estimate of -1.0 percent (± 0.9 percent).

Finance and insurance

U.S. finance and insurance revenue for the fourth quarter of 2017, not adjusted for seasonal variation, or price changes, was $1,166.1 billion, an increase of 2.0 percent (± 0.8 percent) from the third quarter of 2017 and up 6.5 percent (± 10.2 percent) from the fourth quarter of 2016. The third quarter of 2017 to fourth quarter of 2017 percentage change was revised from the advance estimate of 1.9 percent (± 0.8 percent).

Real estate and rental and leasing

U.S. real estate and rental and leasing revenue for the fourth quarter of 2017, not adjusted for seasonal variation, or price changes, was $174.2 billion, an increase of 1.2 percent (± 1.1 percent) from the third quarter of 2017 and up 6.5 percent (± 10.4 percent) from the fourth quarter of 2016. The third quarter of 2017 to fourth quarter of 2017 percentage change was revised from the advance estimate of 1.5 percent (± 1.1 percent).

Educational services

U.S. educational services revenue for the fourth quarter of 2017, not adjusted for seasonal variation, or price changes, was $16.9 billion, a decrease of 0.8 percent (± 3.4 percent) from the third quarter of 2017 and up 7.3 percent (± 10.6 percent) from the fourth quarter of 2016. The third quarter of 2017 to fourth quarter of 2017 percentage change was revised from the advance estimate of -0.5 percent (± 3.6 percent).

Health care and social assistance

U.S. health care and social assistance revenue for the fourth quarter of 2017, not adjusted for seasonal variation, or price changes, was $649.8 billion, an increase of 3.3 percent (± 0.6 percent) from the third quarter of 2017 and up 3.7 percent (± 2.7 percent) from the fourth quarter of 2016. The third quarter of 2017 to fourth quarter of 2017 percentage change was revised from the advance estimate of 3.2 percent (± 0.6 percent).

Arts, entertainment, and recreation

U.S. arts, entertainment, and recreation revenue for the fourth quarter of 2017, not adjusted for seasonal variation, or price changes, was $69.3 billion, a decrease of 4.8 percent (± 2.7 percent) from the third quarter of 2017 and up 3.7 percent (± 7.4 percent) from the fourth quarter of 2016. The third quarter of 2017 to fourth quarter of 2017 percentage change was revised from the advance estimate of -4.1 percent (± 2.8 percent).

Accommodation

U.S. accommodation revenue for the fourth quarter of 2017, not adjusted for seasonal variation, or price changes, was $59.7 billion, a decrease of 11.9 percent (± 1.3 percent) from the third quarter of 2017 and up 0.7 percent (± 7.8 percent) from the fourth quarter of 2016. The third quarter of 2017 to fourth quarter of 2017 percentage change was revised from the advance estimate of -12.9 percent (± 0.8 percent).

Other services (except public administration)

U.S. other services (except public administration) revenue for the fourth quarter of 2017, not adjusted for seasonal variation, or price changes, was $158.3 billion, an increase of 11.0 percent (± 5.9 percent) from the third quarter of 2017 and up 9.9 percent (± 9.7 percent) from the fourth quarter of 2016. The third quarter of 2017 to fourth quarter of 2017 percentage change was revised from the advance estimate of 11.6 percent
(± 4.2 percent).

US Census Bureau, “Quarterly Services Survey. Q4/2017“, 8 Mar 2018 (10:00) More

Comment: Reuters

U.S. economic growth for the fourth quarter is likely to be revised higher after data on Thursday indicated more spending on services than previously estimated by the government. The Commerce Department’s quarterly services survey, or QSS, added to December data on construction spending and manufacturers inventories in suggesting that gross domestic product grew much faster than the 2.5% annualized rate reported by the government in its second estimate last month.

Before the QSS data, economists had expected that GDP growth for the October-December quarter would be raised to about a 2.6% rate. Some now expect fourth-quarter GDP growth would be revised up to a 2.9% rate when the Commerce Department’s statistics agency, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, incorporates the data into its third estimate to be published later this month.

“The QSS points to stronger services spending in the fourth quarter than the BEA had previously estimated,” said Daniel Silver, an economist at JPMorgan in New York. “And while the QSS often impacts health care categories within the spending data, we think that much of the expected fourth-quarter upward revision will be related to spending on motor vehicle maintenance and repair.” Silver also said the QSS data pointed to a modest downward revision to investment in intellectual property products.Reuters

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