Factory orders reversed some of the previous month’s decline with a 1.9% gain in July. Core capital goods ex-aircraft the proxy for business spending increased 1.5%. That said this index has now fallen on a year ago basis for 21-straight months, the longest underwater period for this index since its inception in 1956 and something that has never happened outside of a recession.
The headline news today was the August employment report it missed expectations with 151,000 new jobs, the official unemployment rate increased to 4.9%, average weekly hours worked fell notably down .2 to 34.3, average hourly earnings increased .1% in August and 2.4% on a year ago basis. Previous months employment gains were essentially unchanged as was the Labor Force Participation Rate at 62.8%. As usual this report is dissected by the mainstream media and presents many opportunities for spinning the data depending on the picture you wish to present. That said it was a decent report with nothing particularly remarkable.
Motor vehicle sales fell 4.2% in August to 17 million units annualized, on weak consumer demand. More than a few pundits noted that peak sales have arrived for the sector that accounts for about 20% of retail sales. Given the high inventory levels slowing sales will drag not only on economic growth but also industrial production going forward should the trend persist.