Registered Investment Adviser Caleb Lawrence
Mixed economic and earnings data sends the major averages into the final hour with small gains. The 3rd quarter 2017 employment cost index increased .7% on strength in the private sector. On a year ago basis wages and compensation are up a marginal 2.5%. Despite endless mainstream media claims of a very tight and robust jobs market the 95 odd million folks no longer employed or counted as unemployed as per the labor force participation rate and the anemic 2.5% or so annual wage gains belie the strength implied by the headline official unemployment rate.
The CoreLogic Case/Schiller national home price index advanced .5% in August pushing the year ago rate to 6.1% despite a steadily slowing monthly rate of increase. Since the July 2006 peak this index has managed to gain just 5.6% or a little over ½% per year. Many of the Metropolitan Statistical Areas or MSA’s covered by this report have gone on to new all-time record highs in the post crisis period. Some are still trying to recover their former glory including Las Vegas -29.6%, Miami -19.1% and Chicago -17.1% in the top 3 but another 4 can be found in the 10-city index as opposed to 3 that have hit new record highs led by Denver +44.5%, Boston +12.2%, and San Francisco +10.7%.
The Homeownership rate increased to 63.9% in the 3rd quarter of 2017, on strength in the Midwest. Homeowner vacancy rates remain very low at 1.6% while the rental vacancy rate came in at 7.5% a 5th consecutive increase. Median asking rents and prices both increased slightly for the quarter, as per the Census Bureau.
AutoData reports that auto sales hit 18.6 million units seasonally adjusted in September on a hurricane induced rebound to mark the first year over year gain for 2017. Most brands did quite well with the exception of Fiat/Chrysler and Hyundai.
Semiconductor billings advanced 4% in August on strength in the Americas and to a lesser extent Asia. This marks an all-time record high for the series that dates to early 1976.