The housing recovery continues to show impressive resilience. To be sure, housing starts did suffer some in September, as multifamily building contracted. But building permits—a more forward-looking metric—gained nicely, on strength, ironically, in the multifamily category.
If there were any doubt that equity investors prefer Clinton to Trump, it should have been erased early this afternoon after stocks fell quickly after FBI Director James Comey said that new evidence has prompted him to re-open the investigation of whether Hillary’s emails contained classified information.
The consumer is back in the game, with U.S. shoppers picking up their spending in September. In all, retail sales jumped 0.6% during the month, on gains at furniture dealers, building materials stores, restaurants, and over the Internet. The upswing also is taking in the auto industry, a sector that continues to hold its own after years of steady gains.
Risk markets are worried about a December rate increase. The immediate manifestation is the strength of the US dollar, which has risen about 4% against developed economies currencies in the last 30 days to the highest level since last January.
Today’s data on retail sales point to a mild slowdown in consumer spending. Although Q3 is apt to be the best quarter this year, MacroAdvisors has lowered its GDP growth estimate for last quarter to 2.6% and has only 1.8% penciled in for the fourth quarter.
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Some food for thought has been presented to the economic bulls, namely that the economy, which has firmed up some this quarter, has yet to strengthen to the degree expected a few weeks ago.
Barring a big negative shock to the financial markets or the economy in the next 2 ½ months, the Fed will raise interest rates by 25 bps in its December meeting.
The economy is in decent shape as the third quarter ends. To wit, we are nearing full employment; family incomes are rising again after a long pause; and our trade gap is starting to narrow.
Yesterday’s data was on the cool side, with both retail sales and the PPI a bit below expectations. Those data virtually confirmed the Fed will be on hold next week. But today’s Consumer Price Index was hot enough to persuade the Fed to raise in December.