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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Unexpectedly, August 2016 retail sales drop, manufacturing output falls. Growth estimates for 3Q 2016 cut. New unemployment claims up 1000-Reuters

9/15/16, "U.S. retail sales, factory output slump; third-quarter growth forecast cut," Reuters, Lucia Mutikani 

"U.S. retail sales fell more than expected in August amid weak purchases of automobiles and a range of other goods, pointing to cooling domestic demand that further diminishes expectations of a Federal Reserve interest rate increase next week.

The economic growth outlook also took a hit from other data on Thursday showing a drop in manufacturing output last month. The reports, which extended August's run of weak data, prompted economists to cut their growth estimates for the third quarter....

The Commerce Department said retail sales declined 0.3 percent after edging up 0.1 percent in July. Sales were up 1.9 percent from a year ago. Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales slipped 0.1 percent last month after a similar drop in July.

These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product. Economists had forecast overall retail sales slipping 0.1 percent and core sales climbing 0.3 percent last month. 

Sales were almost broadly weak, rising in only four categories, including clothing stores and restaurants and bars. Receipts at auto dealerships fell 0.9 percent and online sales, whose share has grown in recent years, dropped 0.3 percent....

Stocks on Wall Street rose on the diminishing chances of a rate hike next week, while the dollar was little changed against a basket of currencies. Prices for shorter-dated U.S. Treasury debt rose marginally.


In a second report, the Fed said manufacturing output fell 0.4 percent in August, reversing July's increase. Output was hurt by declines in the production of nondurable goods. While many durable goods industries posted declines of nearly 1 percent or more, motor vehicle assembly increased.

Manufacturing is grappling with the lingering effects of a strong dollar and lower oil prices. Activity in the sector, which accounts for 12 percent of the U.S. economy, has also been undercut by an inventory correction. Regional surveys also suggested factories remained on the back foot in September. 

But there was good news from mining, where output rose 1.0 percent in August as oil and gas well drilling increased for a third straight month.

In the wake of the dour reports, the Atlanta Fed lowered its third-quarter GDP estimate by three-tenths of a percentage point to a 3.0 percent annual rate. The economy grew at a 1.1 percent rate in the second quarter....

A third report from the Labor Department showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits edged up 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 260,000 for the week ended Sept. 10."...


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